Eddie Talley is entering his 25th year as head basketball coach at Wilson Hall this season. While a quarter of a century at a school should make one pretty good judging what lies ahead, Talley doesn't know quite what to make of this team as it gets …
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Eddie Talley is entering his 25th year as head basketball coach at Wilson Hall this season. While a quarter of a century at a school should make one pretty good judging what lies ahead, Talley doesn't know quite what to make of this team as it gets ready to kick off the 2019-20 season.
The Barons lost seven players, including four starters, from last year's team that finished 6-14 overall and 2-6 in SCISA Region III-3A.
"We've got some big shoes to fill there," said Talley. "Our numbers are good, we're just lacking a little experience right now."
Wilson Hall opens its season on Tuesday in Florence against The King's Academy with junior forward Graham VanPatten the lone returning starter. The Barons will expect a lot from him and the team's only two seniors, Emory Moore and Blake Richardson
"Leadership is a concern right now," said Talley. "We've got some good kids, but they're all pretty quiet people, and I'm not sure where leadership is going to come from. We've also guys coming up off the JV team that we're excited about, and we think they'll be able to help us."
Wilson Hall's JV team finished 12-7 last year. They were led by Kaleb Porter and Tate Sistare, both of whom figure to be in the mix for playing time on the varsity team this season.
"Kaleb is going to be pushing someone for playing time," said Talley. "He's got some quickness to him, and he's kind of a basketball junkie. He's been playing pretty hard."
Talley likes to match his strategy to his team's strengths and weaknesses, and he expects this year's team to be more perimeter-oriented than in the past.
"We're not the tallest team, so we're going to have to work hard to score inside," said Talley. "We have some guys that can shoot, we think, but with no experience coming back, I'm not sure if we can make them in a game. We shoot well in practice, but a game is a different issue."
The key moving forward will be figuring out which combinations of players work well together. With so many unknowns, the Barons have been experimenting with their lineups and rotations in early scrimmages and practices in an effort to find the right mix for when the season starts.
"We've had a couple of scrimmages, and we're practicing hard, and we keep changing the lineups every day. Practice has been more competitive this year, which I think is going to help us. Right now, I don't know who the top 10 or so is going to be."
While the Barons may be young, Talley has high hopes for the future of the program.
"We have a lot of question marks, but I'm really excited about the season," said Talley. "The kids' attitude and effort have been great this year, and we've played more in the offseason than we have in the last few years. They're having fun and enjoying things right now, so we gotta try to keep that momentum going."
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