The 2012-13 basketball campaign was very successful for the Barren County Trojans. Warren Cunningham guided his team to the hard-to-get District 15 title and to the second round of the Region 4 tournament. It was a very good year.
But this season, the Trojans will be without a big part of last year’s squad, including Union College signees Dalton Bush and Jaucoby Poore. The key for having a good season, Cunningham said, will be how quickly someone steps up to fill their shoes.
“I think the biggest thing you have to look at as we begin this year is the things we lost with the guys who graduated and what they provided for our team,” Cunningham said. “The thing that concerns me the most about the things we lost to graduation was rebounding. We lost our best two rebounders in Dalton and Jaucoby. They got a lot of rebounds, but they also got a lot of big rebounds.
“I think we can replace the scoring we lost from last year a lot easier than we can replace the rebounding. It is easy to get guys to want to score, but it is a lot harder to get guys to go out and get nine or 10 rebounds a game. And that’s what Dalton and Jaucoby did last year. That’s a concern for us.”
But don’t cry too much for the Trojans just yet. Barren County returns two starters last year in seniors Barrett Billingsley and Charley McCoy, and a host of players who saw significant time on the floor over the past two seasons.
“Barrett’s role will be different this year than it was last year. I think you will see he’s capable of scoring double figures each night,” Cunningham said. “He’s shooting the ball better and his experience is so valuable.
“And with Charley, we’ve challenged him to do more in terms of rebounds, driving to the basket and getting to the free-throw line. If he’s driving, getting offensive rebounds, he’s going to be getting to the free-throw line. He doesn’t need to be fourth or fifth on our team in free-throw attempts. He needs to lead our team in free-throw attempts.”
Cunningham said sophomore Nick Mabe will probably also see time at the point guard position, while fellow sophomore Wade Coomer will probably be coming off the bench.
The Trojans should be a lot bigger and longer this season along the frontline. Senior Bo Hubbard should get one of the starting positions with fellow seniors Ben Leftwich, Kyle Marr and Zach Mabe filling out the starting rotation.
“Bo is not a big kid, but he plays a lot bigger than he is. Ben Leftwich is a kid that I think can be a good rebounder and finish a lot of plays for us,” Cunningham said. “Zach had a really good junior varsity season for us and Kyle Marr, who just came over from football, provides a lot of physicality for us.
“When you look at the eight or nine guys that are probably going to see time for us, there is a lot of versatility. We can go with the big lineup, or we can go for the small quicker lineup. I like our depth and I don’t think we’re going to lose a lot when we go to the bench. Everyone provides something.”
Cunningham said practice, so far, has gone very well and one thing he is noticing is practice has become very competitive with players battling for spots and playing time. That could be helpful for the Trojans because of the tough schedule waiting for them. Barren County will play almost everyone in the region, including stops in the TJ Samson Classic at Metcalfe County High School and the West Jessamine Tournament in Nicholasville.
“We continue to play good teams and we believe if we want to continue to be competitive in our region, we have to play those folks and the best teams from other regions,” Cunningham said. “I hope we have the team to respond to the challenge of this schedule, but we won’t know until we get there.”
And some of those challenging situations will be the Trojans’ district schedule against Monroe County, Glasgow and Allen County-Scottsville.
“Monroe County returns a lot of their lineup and they’ve got a lot of really good players. Then, you look at Allen County and Glasgow. There is a lot of balance in this district and you’re probably going to see a lot of close games,” said Cunningham. “I think you have to put Monroe on top of the list because of the guys coming back, especially early on. For us to win it, we’ve got to be better defensively. We scored about 70 a game last year, but we gave up about 60 a game. So, we’ve got to be able to guard it better and get those rebounds. And we’ve got to be in close games. How you handle those games can be a six-game swing in our record.”
The Trojans will open their season on Tuesday at home against Green County. Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
“Last year was an unusual circumstance for us because we had everyone back from the year before and we knew how we were going to play from the first game,” Cunningham said. “With this team, we’ve got to figure those things out and that’s going to take some time. It won’t be perfect from the first game, but hopefully we can get those things figured out over time.
“Practice has gone well. We have enough guys back with experience who know what we expect. So, I think we’re in a good place right now. The big question we need to answer is how we’re going to play, where we’re going to play guys and what roles players will have for us.”
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