One of the strongest traits of Coach Rennie Bailey’s Minden High basketball team this season is their depth.
At full strength, the Crimson Tide are able to use their length and athleticism to press teams. Minden can pick up full court, trap the ball, force turnovers and get out on the break. Their defense leads to offense.
“It wears us out,” Bailey said. “To play that way, you need a lot of bodies. We all have to be on the same page.”
There have been moments this season where it has paid off immensely. Even so, the Tide are still figuring out their best lineups.
So far this season, it’s been a combination of Curtis Carter, Kiernan Combs, D’Marqueus Gill and whomever can move the ball, create space and still defend.
Carter leads the Tide with 15.1 points per game heading into the Holiday Classic and is shooting 58% on two-point field goals.
But, the onus has been on Carter to be a point guard all season, meaning he must expend his energy gettin others involved as often as he seeks out his own shot.
Combs has benefitted. He’s the Tide’s best three-point shooter (33%) and is scoring 12.1 points a night.
A suprise scorer has been Gill, who enters the Classic at 7.2 points-per-game and is shooting a team-high 62% from the field. Gill is always active and rebounds at a high rate for his size at nearly eight rebounds per game.
Freshman Malaki Thomas is at seven points and seven rebounds per game as well, but Thomas has missed a few games to illness or injury thus far.
The key to unlocking the full potential of this team may be getting senior center Shamar Crow going on both sides of the ball.
Crow is prone to foul trouble, but he has a ton of potential and is nimble and athletic with good size for his position.
Crow’s length is a big part of why Minden is able to protect the rim each night. But, with Crow in foul trouble, the Tide don’t have another option with the same size and length.
Gill is able to fill in as defensive stopper, but he’s better suited to playing the four.
Crow is averaging over two blocks per game, which is on par with the best bigs in the NBA on a per-minute basis.
The Tide are thirsty for more scoring. Coach Bailey knows that one of the easiest ways to create offense is by forcing turnovers and being active on defense.
The Holiday Classic will be Minden’s chance to get back above .500 before district starts.
At 5-6, the Tide need to start finding consistency before making a run at a playoff spot.