LBJ Basketball is back on track for the new season

Elan McMinn, Sports Editor

The referees blow the whistle, ending the LBJ boys basketball team’s first game with a 74-71 victory over Stoney Point High School. Despite much of the team’s starting lineup graduating last year, the team was ranked 11th out of 25 5A teams by the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches.

One the team’s leading point scorers, LBJ junior Jordan Teal, said that the team has potential to make it to the final eight teams in the playoffs, and that even repeating last year’s performance is worth a lot.

“This year, our 2020 juniors are stepping up in a tremendous way,” Teal said. “Me, Antwan, and Isiah Rector are playing a huge part in this season so far now that all of our seniors are gone.”

Teal said the team could place a lot better than 11th if they continue playing the way they are currently, especially if they can focus.

“I definitely think that we can step up,” Teal said. “We just need to maintain focus and keep playing as a team and keep believing in our coach.”

Head Coach Freddie Roland had a different perspective. He said that despite the new talent on the team, the past senior class contributed a lot to this ranking.

“I didn’t even think that they’d be ranked that high, but that’s impressive to me, and I think we are a little further ahead than we were this time last year,” Roland said. “We are playing a lot of young kids, we only have three seniors on the team, so we are moving along pretty good.”

Though this years team consists of less seniors, according to Roland, this year is about more than just rebuilding.

“I don’t want to look at it as a rebuilding year,” Roland said. “ I think of it more as a reloading year. I had had lots of sophomores on the varsity team last year who contributed a lot. One was even a starter who won defensive player of the year in 5A, and that’s a lot for a sophomore.”

Roland recognized Teal as a big part of the offense, and said he could be one of the key players this season.

“One sophomore is really leading us now,” Roland said. “He’s scoring the most points, and probably the most rebounds if I look and that player is Jordan Teal.”

The start of the season often primarily involves figuring the dynamics out, according to Roland, but after the few games he thinks the team is in good form.

“We are taking baby steps, but the season is going the way we want it to go,” Roland said. “It’s about making the kids believe that they can play against those 6’4’’ and 6’5’’ guys, and I think that again, we are further down the road than we were last season.”

The team has made deep playoff runs in many past seasons. Teal was on the varsity team for the previous year’s season, and although wasn’t a leading scorer, had thoughts on what happened.

“We could’ve beat Nixon, like, badly,” Teal said. “ Some of our normal stars had off games, and that was all it took to end our playoff run.”

Roland said that every season is a blank slate and that the team needs to focus on this year’s goals to succeed.

“I would just like to see us have good season as always, make the playoffs, and try and get this team to win enough to make it to the final four,” Roland said. “Past that, there’s nothing more I can really ask from them because that’s just what I want from them.”

The basketball season can be extremely strenuous according to Roland, and even when he is pushing his team, he knows how much work it is.

“It’s just so hard, so many games, so many things can go wrong,” Roland said. “As the games go on, lots of fouls happen and players are sitting on the bench that should be in the game because of it.”

After a recent game against Harker Heights, Roland said that he had never seen such a sloppy game with more fouls than in that game, but that it is his job to bring the team together for the season.

“It’s my job as coach to coach them up to keep that from happening,” Roland said. “If I can get them all to just keep their hands away from them and staying out of foul trouble, then the season is going to go good.”