Wednesday, December 31, 2014

ARC's "preseason" should have Musketeers ready

Region AAAAA member ARC probably knows best the grind local AAA teams face in the coming weeks, as the Musketeers have played five games versus those teams already this season.  The Musketeers' lone win against that group came weeks ago in Glenn Hills' gym.  But the experience should set up coach Steve Nobles' team nicely for its coming region schedule.

After Friday's loss to Butler at Paine College, coach Nobles explained that he schedules November and December with the upcoming region schedule in mind.  I think he crafted a good slate as the Musketeers (6-8) can use the experience to understand their potential and to identify areas of weakness.

Regarding ARC's strengths, the team showed signs of competitive spirit in reducing Butler's lead from 16 points to 1 over a 12 minute period between the middle of the second quarter and the end of the third.  Many teams would have folded after being down by so many points, so early.

But senior Moses Lewis doesn't seem to have any quit in him.  He led the Richmond offense with an ability to handle the ball under pressure, beat his man to the basket, and make shots.  He did these things consistently against Butler and again versus Josey Saturday, when the Musketeers' comeback attempt was cut short by the Eagles' red hot shooting.

Having a guard who can reliably handle pressure and put the ball in the hoop will serve Richmond well in region play.  I think Lewis is the best guard in Richmond's new sub region (2A-AAAAA), and he is a major reason I'll probably pick the Musketeers as a favorite to win the regular season race.   A good thing about Lewis' play is that he takes his opportunities in the flow of the offense.  And he makes sure the right guys stay involved in the action.  This brings me to the second major strength Richmond possesses:  its inside play.  

Nick Roberts has the potential to be a real difference maker.  The 6'6" junior has a sweet shooting touch and looks skilled enough to be that seemingly rare player: a low post scoring threat.  Seriously.  Those players still exist! More repetitions on the court should continue to do wonders for Roberts.  And his 6'5" sidekick, Rashaud Green brings some of the power and agility that Roberts currently lacks.  Green is not as skilled as Roberts and has more trouble scoring.  But the two combine to make up maybe the most impressive inside attack I've seen from AAAAA teams.

The inside-outside attack described above is likely what benefitted ARC in its recent 3-0 showing at a holiday tournament in Macon.  But it wasn't enough last weekend at Paine.  This brings me to ARC's apparent weaknesses.  The Musketeers turn the ball over too much and they give up too many offensive rebounds.  I have wittern about the importance of these two aspects of the game.  Too often versus Butler and Josey did ARC give its opponents easy opportunities in transition after turnovers and off the glass.  I also have concerns about whether the Musketeers give the kind of effort needed to maintain a winning season.  I only saw two games.  But it seemed both Butler and Josey beat them to the loose balls and rebounds that were up for grabs.

The Musketeers have tasted success early in what coach Nobles calls the "preseason."  But they have also been humbled.  Success in region play is theirs for the taking.  I look forward to seeing if they grab it.

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