It’s been a productive June for new head coach Matt Anderson and the Marianna High School boys basketball team.
The Bulldogs have been using the first month of the offseason to sharpen their skills and get acquainted with their new leader.
Anderson, the former head coach at Graceville who replaces the departed Travis Blanton, says the transition has been seamless so far in large part to the willingness of his players.
“I love it right now. The kids working hard and buying in and doing everything we ask,” Anderson said. “We don’t have a lot of stuff put in yet but we’re learning the system on both ends. They’re hitting the weight room hard. We’re asking a lot out of them and they’re doing it. As new coach that’s all you can ask.”
The Bulldogs have been playing summer league games at Marianna High School and Cottondale High School. Marianna plays the final two games of the summer schedule at Marianna High School on Tuesday vs. Seminole County (4 p.m.) and Malone (6 p.m.).
The Bulldogs are currently without some of their top players, forcing others to play out of position for the time being, but continue to battle and compete hard. Rising sophomore front court player Deontre Rhynes had his knee scoped and is out 2-3 weeks. Rising junior Anton Williams has shin splints and will be re-checked in a week.
Among the players filling the void are Marquis Kelly, Nicholas Pollock and Mileak Wimes. The Bulldogs are growing more comfortable each day and making improvements which should translate to wins in the regular season according to Anderson.
“I’m very pleased with all of them,” Anderson said. “They’ve all made strides in past three weeks except that to continue and to make even bigger strides with more time.”
Additionally, Anderson is hopeful what he calls a “full round of high-intensity workouts,” consisting of weightlifting and crossfit four days a week will serve as the necessary conditioning for the upcoming season. Anderson will also hold individual workouts for players as the summer progresses.
“I want to work and get better. I know they do too,” Anderson said. “So the opportunities are available to them.”
While winning is always the focus, Anderson says the chance for player development during summer games is highly valuable.
“The young players are getting minutes, which is good because we can evaluate them against a high level of competition,” Anderson said. “I like what I see. They’re working hard and buying into the system.”