Coming off winning the Region XX Tournament and winning a game in the NJCAA National Tournament, Men's Basektball Coach Alan Hoyt has set a standard at CSM. Entering this season the goal is the same, regardless of the roster.
"I was very pleased (with last season)," said Hoyt, who is entering his 12th season as Head Coach. "It was furthest the school has ever been, we were there the 2nd time in a row and we're able to improve upon the time before that."
"It good to see them grow and progression throughout the year," added Assistant Coach Dan Richards. "After struggling in the beginning of last season, it was good to see them finish the season strong. Now we can build on momentum this year."
Building off of their 20-14 record, the Hawks have a few pieces to build around this year to make another run at the National Tournament. While he will be injured for a few weeks in the beginning of the season, point guard Darnell Taylor will make a big impact this year as the returning starting point guard of the Hawks. The 5'6 guard played the most minutes in the conference, averaging 29 minutes per game, averaging 8.5 points and 3.9 assists a game with a shooting percentage at 29.9%. Jerome Savoy returns at shooting guard, looking to improve his minutes this season after averaging 15 minutes a game last year. The 5'11 guard averaged 8.3 points per game with a shooting percentage of 41.6%, and turned it on in the postseason. He was the MVP of the Region XX Tournament and averaged 15 points in the Hawks three games in the National Tournament. Desmond Creek and Damon Gather round out the impact players, as both of them look to play more minutes this season.
With only four sophomores on the team this year, there is a lot of youth on the Hawks. With youth mistakes will naturally occur, and Hoyt knows that. One of the goals this year is to minimize the mistakes, and that only comes with time; yet the Hawks are willing to learn.
"The youth is going to be an issue, how fast the team can get it together this year can help determine how good we can be," said Hoyt. "With the team being so young, they are willing to learn and show the desire of want to win and want to learn, so I am very excited to see their potential."
The Hawks are undersized this year, with their tallest player on the team listed at 6'5. With an undersized team, there are strengths of the Hawks that allow them to succeed and give their opponents fits. One of the advantages Hoyt wants to use is team speed, getting up the floor quickly and playing an in-your-face style defense the whole length of the court.
"Yes we are guard oriented," said Hoyt. "We look to push the basketball, throw it ahead and get out in transition to find that early great shot. Defensively, pressure the basketball in full and half court. We have a commitment to bring out toughness, to play bigger than our size. That's been a key when we enter the national tournament. We like playing to our maximum potential, bigger than you are at big moments."
In order to get the entire team on board with Hoyt's coaching style, one of the obstacles will be teaching the players how to transition from high school to college level basketball.
"We like to run and get the ball out quickly, but it's our job as a coaching staff to help the players learn the differences between high school and college basketball" said Richards. "They need to learn how to position themselves and move the right way with and without the basketball. A big key for the team is if they learn the fundamentals of the game. If they are willing to learn that, they will improve each and every day."
On offense the Hawks like to push the ball up the floor, execute on the fast-break, and get out in transition. Sometimes they like to get a good shot within seven seconds, a tactic that can help their motion offense overall. What's important in their execution is spacing.
"We like to push the ball, so spacing the floor is key," said assistant coach Burton Moody. "We like to shoot threes, drive in the paint and either kick it out to an open shooter or go up for a layup and get fouled. Spacing will be key because you can't get too congested at one spot."
In addition to spacing, in order successfully execute Hoyt's offense is getting rid of the ball quickly in order to catch the opposing defense off guard.
"It's about getting rid of the ball in a fast, timely fashion," said Hoyt. "We like to move away from a ball dominant-player offense, so moving the ball quickly emphasizes why we want to make the defense move. In order to execute offensively, it goes back to teaching the fundamentals of the game."
Sometimes the first option isn't there on offense, so the Hawks will learn this season how to get uncomfortable by getting rid of old habits.
"With the youth of the roster, the players will learn to know where they need to be and stay spaced out and not revert to old habits," said Richards. "As a coaching staff, we want to instill new habits, and know how to react without thinking. What can help the players execute is their communication with one another".
On the defense the Hawks like to play similar to Nolan Richardson's 40 minutes of Hell back in the mid 90's of the Arizona Razorbacks; full court, up in your face defense in order create constant pressure and havoc for their opposing offense. This plays to their team speed advantage in order to create turnovers that can transition into easy baskets.
"It's my preferred style because of the turnover at the JUCO level" said Hoyt. "We want to get up in you and guard you because I want our team to play aggressively. We have some players on the team that can press well, so we plan to use their strengths to our advantage."
Sometimes Hoyt will switch things up and switch into a zone defense to disrupt the strategy of the Hawks' opponent. It's a crucial coaching strategy that can benefit the Hawks throughout the season.
"If the other team's guard play is not good, we want to take advantage of that with our press," said Moody. "If a team is beating our press, we will switch into a zone in order to frustrate our opponent. We focus on defense 60-70% of the time and switching defenses throughout the game can play to our benefit."
"If we see that our press is getting beat, we will condense into our half court pressure defense," added Richards. "The pressure is important, because we still want to create turnovers and convert them to easy buckets. The last thing we want is to be out of position, so scaling back into a zone will help out throughout the course of a game."
With recent success, Hoyt has set the standard of the CSM Men's Basketball program and knows what it takes meet the goals of every season.
"Regardless of what kind of team comes in here, that's the goal" said Hoyt. "We point to the wall at our banners and say ' it doesn't matter who is here, it can be done'. We know it's meaningful goal, to get a top seed and win the Region XX Tournament and win games in the Winner's Bracket at Nationals. It's a full season goal."
Hoyt and his staff will implement X's and O's, such as emphasizing rebounding, boxing out, and having a short term memory in order to not create consecutive turnovers, one of the most important points of emphasis Hoyt wants to address to his team is to have fun.
"You start playing basketball because you love it," said Hoyt. "This is my 12th year and I continue to coach because I love it. I want to coach these young men to succeed on and off the court and check box scores when my players go to other schools. I've even brought some of them back to coach with me."
"It's very important," added Moody. "I've been around basketball since I was a child and, I just love working and coaching these young men to make them the best student athletes possible."
"It becomes a joy, not a job" said Richards. "You want to enjoy it because it's a sport that is fun for both players and coaches. If you're not having fun, then why are you playing?"
The Hawks will begin their season Friday October 2nd against Lansing Community College in the Dundalk Mixer at CCBC Dundalk. Tip-off is set for 6pm.