Can Lamar become a basketball school?
By Drake Horton, Contributing Writer
Could this be the year that Michael Hamlin and his Lamar Silver Foxes basketball team get over the hump? It is definitely shaping up that way.
For a sports team that plays second fiddle to football and baseball, it might be consider a challenge to find kids willing to play a sport that does not garner attention like the other two.
That does not seem to be the case for Hamlin, however, as he sees plenty of energy from his team this year. He has them inspired this season to make basketball become popular at Lamar and his formula on how to do it is pretty simple: get the players to love the game.
“Get them to love the game, have fun while they are playing the game, they can make that difference, they can make basketball popular at Lamar,” Hamlin said.
Coaching a sports team at the 1A level in high school is a bit different from the other classifications, especially from the bigger ones like 3A, 4A and 5A and the reason for that is the number issues when it comes to players.
Having such a small student population and with the football team in the playoffs, Hamlin was missing seven current members of his basketball team including top returner Jeblonski Green when practices started.
While most coaches would find this situation frustrating, Hamlin saw it as a blessing in disguise because it allowed him to build better depth for the upcoming season.
“There is at least three that I believe will give us a lot of valuable minutes, might even being pushing some of the ones for starting positions. I see some good things, I really do, but I think our JV program will be good also because the ones that aren’t quite ready yet, I get another year of JV because they are sophomores.”
Despite having only two seniors, this Lamar team is still very experienced as it is heavy with juniors. That experience has allowed the absence of players to not slow Hamlin or the other Silver Foxes down as they prepared for the season.
“We are trying to learn the system, we are running the plays, learning their positions and do the things they are good at,” Hamlin said. “I’m trying to get them in shape right now. It’s all about being in shape.”
Once the team was complete, Hamlin’s process of transitioning players into the rotation was very smooth; by the time region play starts the team should be gelled together.
“I think it will be kind of a quick flow,” Hamlin said. “I really think we will start gelling the first of January. When Christmas break ends then we will start working on some things, the little things we got with the new system we put in. I’m trying to run my system according to the talent we have. So I think after Christmas break we will start gelling.”
One of the main reasons for him believing this is because Green, who is his top returning player, has an extremely high basketball IQ and displays great leadership capabilities.
“He brings a lot of leadership, he hits the boards good and he is fundamentally sound,” Hamlin said. “His IQ is real high for basketball. I’m thinking he can get us over the edge. He is the player we need to get us going.”
This year Hamlin is tweaking his system so that his team is playing faster, scoring in transition so that he can optimize the speed he has on his team.
“I’m playing a little faster,” Hamlin said. “I have a couple of quicker guys, we going to try to push the tempo.”
This new system, this new energy and most importantly this collection of players, which Hamlin describes as scrappy, has him very confident going into the season.
“I think this year we are region contenders,” Hamlin said. “I look for us to be pushing Lewisville for that top spot.”
Maybe by the end of the season Lamar’s boys’ basketball program will become the talk of the town.