With the Arkansas State men's basketball team being picked to finish in first place in the western division, coach John Brady is expecting big things from his team, but is also looking for several key things to happen as well.
He discussed several of these things Wednesday while taking part in the 2011 Sun Belt Conference media day teleconference.
"I'm hoping our team can be as good as, or a little bit better than we were a year ago," said Brady "I hope we stay healthy and hope we don't have any players make poor decisions. That has been one of our themes, we need to control the things that we can control."
"I met with our team back in August when they came back to school and told them I think we are a good enough basketball team, and the main thing that can keep our team from accomplishing what he think we can accomplish and hope to accomplish is ourselves," said Brady. "We can do that by making poor decisions, and not conducting ourselves in the proper way."
Brady also stated he likes what he has coming in terms of experience and size.
"From an experience standpoint and a size standpoint, we should be pretty good," said Brady. "We don't have great players, but we have good players and if they play unselfish and do the things that are necessary to win, I think we can have a good basketball team."
The Red Wolves will be replacing three seniors this year, but Coach Brady feels he has some players who can step up and be play makers this year.
"We lost three seniors who played well for us," said Brady. "[We lost] Donald Boone, Rashad Allison, and Jeremy Thomas was off the bench, but I think from our recruiting and the players we have returning I think we can put together and find a way to have a good basketball team."
Brady also spoke about some of the players he expects to step up this year.
"Adam Sterrenberg has looked good, and put on 20 pounds," said Brady. "We also have Edward Townsel who played last year as a back up point guard behind Allison. He needs to improve his assist to turnover ratio, but from the standpoint of ability to get into the paint, his speed, and ability to shoot from the perimeter I think he will be fine at the point guard position for us."
"Kinley Branch didn't play a lot for us last year, and he was a red shirt his first year, but he is a 6-6, 6-7 type player that I think we are going to get some minutes out of this year," said Brady. "They should be some positive minutes. He can really really shoot the ball from behind the arc, and I think he could be a surprise player for us this year."
Brady is also pleased that he picked up two solid junior college transfers who can potentially do big things for the team.
"Marcus Hooten and Bryce Clark are two players out of junior college who I think have improved the quality of depth to our team," said Brady. "One of those guys may start, but both of them give our team a lot of versatility."
One of the players which was a key to the Red Wolves success last year is junior Trey Finn. Finn suffered a season ending injury as the team was heading into the post season last year, but was also named third team All-Sun Belt this year.
"We have Trey coming back," said Brady. "He is not at 100%, but we will bring him along slowly, but I think by time the season begins, he will be full speed and ready to go."
Brady also stated that there are some things he will be looking for early on in the exhibition and non-conference season which will show him if his team is headed in the direction he hopes to lead them.
"We try to build our team by making sure we are getting rebounds," said Brady. "That is the first thing you want to do. I think our team has a toughness about it, and they need to understand that if you can defend and rebound every single night, you may have the opportunity to win some games. Other than that, we just have to shoot the ball well."
The Red Wolves have an exhibition game this Saturday against Central Baptist, and Brady will be looking for his team to accomplish several things.
"We have an exhibition game this Saturday, and we are not even ready for that," said Brady. "But we want to see if we can take care of the ball well, and execute the best we can. We want to see how our defending and rebounding will go in a game as well."
"I think as we move along, we build our team to be able to defend and rebound." said Brady. "The next step is to just take care of the basketball and get some execution in so we can get some quality shots. That is how we try to progress it every year."
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