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’Dogs plan to run past Choctaws

November 10, 2011

Freshman guard Kenneth Smith is one of many underclassmen on the team this season. The Bulldogs tip off at 3 p.m. Sunday in the TAC against Mississippi College. – Photo by Kyle Kight

Reina Kempt
Sports Reporter

 

The men’s basketball team is preparing for its first regular season game against the Mississippi College Choctaws and their game plan is to run them off the court, literally.

 

The two teams will face off at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Thomas Assembly Center.

 

With a new coach comes a new style of play; head coach Michael White has built this young team around running.

 

After surviving a scare last week in an exhibition game against Texas A&M-Kingsville, the Bulldogs are looking to regroup and prepare themselves for the next match.

 

Lonnie Smith, a sophomore guard, said it was hard to adapt to White’s new style of play after spending most of last year getting comfortable playing the way former head coach Kerry Rupp wanted.

 

“I spent a lot of time last year getting used to Rupp’s style but this year it is completely different,” Smith said. “It is very challenging to adapt.”

 

Smith has focused his summer around preparing for a new season. Pick-up games and strenuous weight lifting have played a major part of him getting better after getting his first taste of college basketball last year.

 

He said most of the teams they have played against in the past were not running teams. The Bulldogs want to use that to their advantage. The last time Smith could recall running so much was in high school when running was a key factor in basketball games.

 

“There were no WAC teams playing fast,” Smith said. “We want to take that to our advantage.”

 

Smith says White’s main offensive focus is just running the floor and everyone playing their game. They have no specific go-to player. Smith said he believes that is why White recruited so many quick young men.

 

Freshmen like Raheem Appleby and Kenneth Smith has proven to be two of the quickest guys on the squad.

 

J.L. Lewis, a junior center/forward, said though they plan to run, White’s overall focus is defense. Being defensive-minded is a mindset that is different than what Smith and Lewis were built around last season.

 

Both Lewis and Smith said they completely understand and buy into what White has been teaching them. Lewis added that he believes Tech fans will be shocked with their progress once the season is underway.

 

“We are really underestimated but I think the fans are going to be shocked this year,” Lewis said. “We have really been working hard.”

 

Though Mississippi College is a Division III school, it has proven to be quite the competitor against bigger name programs. Last season it came within three points of upsetting the University of New Orleans.

 

With a challenging schedule ahead, Lewis said they look to take the season one game at a time. “Every game leads to the next one,” Lewis said. “Everything just goes together, preparing for this game is just like preparing for the next and for Arkansas.”

 

These opening games few games will be a test to see where the program stands and the Bulldogs are confident that their team is more prepared than anyone expected.

 

Email comments to rjk007@latech.edu.

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