Beginning his second year at the helm, Madison Southern boys’ basketball Coach Austin Newton believes his squad can be special.
“We have 10 seniors on our roster this year, so we are going to be a very experienced team. We’re bringing back about 98 percent of our scoring,” Newton said. “They know each other very well. We’re optimistic this year. We have good leaders this year.”
The offseason was all about improving in three key areas – physically, basketball skills, and mentally, Newton said.
“We have to become individual basketball players, and we’ve done that in the off-season with our bodies and skills development,” he continued. “The biggest thing with our team is we have to start expecting to win.”
The squad’s hard work paid off with a successful summer, as the Eagles sported a 13-4 record. But Newton acknowledged that while the summer records don’t count, it was important for the team to get the winning feeling.
As the regular-season opener approaches, Newton’s focus is on getting his squad ready, and he said it helps to have a team that can go nine or 10 deep in the rotation.
“Last year, I only felt comfortable with six or seven guys to put in a game,” he said.
“This year, we have 10 or 12 guys who can contribute on the varsity level. I’m still tinkering (with the starting 5). We have many guys who stepped up this summer, and I’m talking underclassmen and upperclassmen who didn’t play a lot last year.”
The trademark of Newton-coached teams is an up-tempo offense, and this year will be no exception. The reason he is optimistic is the caliber of shooters he has on the team.
“We are an exceptional shooting team,” he said. “Our two favorite shots are three-pointers and layups. We also pass the ball well.”
Defensively, Newton said he wants his team to execute better in the half-court.
“Last year, we were very aggressive and trying to create a lot of turnovers,” he said. “We want to be sounder in the half-court. Last year, we got burned a few times with our aggressiveness.”
The Eagles open the 2019-2020 season with four-straight home games versus Cordia (Dec. 3 at 7:30 p.m.), Trinity (Dec. 6 at 7 p.m.), Estill County (Dec. 10 at 7:30 p.m.) and Woodford County (Dec. 13 at 7:30 p.m.).