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Versatility key for Dadeville in 2013-14 season

Published 9:17pm Wednesday, November 27, 2013

For the Dadeville Tigers boys basketball team, this season will hinge on the squad’s ability to maximize its collection of talent.
With an eight-man roster for the 2013-2014 season, the Tigers will have to absorb the blows of losing All-State guard Terry Toler (graduation) and junior big man Anfernee Jennings (injury).
“He’s got some back issues, so he won’t be playing,” said DHS basketball coach Rodney Taylor. “He was going to be a big key for us on the inside. He’s physical and not someone you can push around in there. With Toler, we know we can’t replace him, but his loss won’t change what we do or how we do it.”
However, Taylor’s Tigers will be laden with senior leadership as three of them are slated to start for Dadeville.
C.J. Tolbert, well-known for his athletic exploits on the gridiron and diamond, is one of those senior starters.
“Everyone knows he’s a great athlete, a great leader and a great kid,” Taylor said. “But above that, he’s a competitor. I expect that aspect of him to filter down through the team.”
Dadeville gunners Malik Tolbert and Jay Foster – both of whom started on last year’s 20-win squad – return.
As a junior, M. Tolbert averaged 11.4 points per game and added more than five rebounds per contest. He shot 33 percent from the three-point line last season.
Foster put in more than 10 points, four boards and three assists per game in his junior season.
Taylor said he expects perimeter play to be the strength of the team.
“Basketball is a game of guards,” he said. “If you don’t have someone that can handle the ball and bring it up the floor, you’re not going to beat good teams. We’ve got those four seniors, and I’m expecting them to be the leaders. We’re going to hang our hat on them.”
Also expected to contribute to the Tigers in the paint are D.J. Black and Shawn Jennings.
“D.J. is a basketball kid,” Taylor said. “He knows how to play the game, and he’s got a good shooting range. Shawn is probably going to be our fifth starter as a sophomore.
“Originally, he was going to be a guard but with the injury to Anfernee, he’s going to move inside. We’re not as big a team as we were in years past, but we’re going to have more kids that can contribute. That’s my thought process right now, but time will tell.”
Taylor likes the versatility of his inside players, as they have demonstrated good shooting range that could stretch defenses.
“I like the diversity we can have on the perimeter,” Taylor said. “All of the kids we have can contribute at multiple positions. I’m still figuring out how the pieces are going to fit. The idea I have now may not be the final picture.”
With athletic guards and post players, the potential for a strong transition offense is there.
“We saw in the summer workouts that if we get out in the open floor, we can make good things happen,” Taylor said. “We have to get our transition game going, but that could take some time as we work ourselves into basketball shape.”
Taylor said he expects Dadeville to do more than be competitive. He acknowledged that it could take time for the team to mesh but when it does, the Tigers will able to play with the best of them.
“I like the kids I have, and I like where we going to be,” Taylor said. “But it’s not going to be easy. If we work hard and come together, I think we’ll have a very solid team come Februrary. But we’re going to do what we do.”
Dadeville opens the season on the road Friday, when they travel to Rockford to face the 2-0 Central High School – Coosa County Cougars. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m.