©2012 NPT PHOTO BY SETH BUTLER
First-year Cocke County Lady Red coach Jeremy Byrd (left) teaches sophomore Delessa Stewart and junior Kaitlyn Martin during practice on Thursday afternoon.
|Published: 8:35 PM, 11/09/2012
||Last updated: 8:45 PM, 11/09/2012
Author: Caleb Chrisman
Source: The Newport Plain Talk
NEWPORT-The Jeremy Byrd era of Cocke County Lady Red basketball
is about to officially begin.
Byrd enters his first season as a head coach at the high school
level after several years coaching elementary ball.
He will have a plethora of young players
to work with and Byrd is trying to place a focus and emphasis on the word 'team'.
Allison Ball and Mika Wester return as leading scorers, and returning senior Alison Atha is the
team's leading rebounder, Byrd made it clear that no one has been named a starter just yet.
"I'm trying to take the focus off of just the starting five," Byrd said. "We're in this as a
team, and we're going to have a total team effort whether five play or ten play."
matter who starts for the Lady Red, there are some obvious strengths. Cocke County should be able to
run a fast paced offense with plenty of quickness across the floor. Size could become an issue
"We've got some speed. That's a definite strength of ours," Byrd said. "Sometimes we
play a little out of control, but that's to be expected as early as it is. They are in a new system
and a new way of doing things. I also feel perimeter defense is going to be a strength for
"We're still feeling each other out. We try to keep it business out there on the floor.
If they step out of line, I'm going to let them know about it. If they're slacking I'm going to let
them know. When we're in this locker room, that's when we're going to open up and talk to each
other. They're going to let me know some concerns. I want to be real open with them as far as most
"I feel like their discipline thus far is great. I've not had any bad attitudes
and my plans are to keep it that way. Our big focus when I first started was self discipline and so
far they're buying in, but there's a long way to go and it's really early," Byrd said.
is trying to instill a four quarter mentality for his team. No matter what happens throughout the
game, playing a complete four quarters will be crucial to this teams success.
"The main thing
I'm trying to get through their heads now is basketball is a four quarter, 32 minute game," Byrd
said. "The game's not decided in the first quarter when you get up 20 or down 10. The game is
decided by continuously battling for 32 solid minutes, regardless of the score."
final buzzer goes off, then we'll look up at that scoreboard and see if we won or we lost. That's
one of my goals - play hard 32 minutes."
Youth will continue to be a factor for the second
year in a row for the Lady Red. Some growing pains can certainly be expected at times when you
combine that with a new system and coaching staff.
"We are young and I'm going to take that
into consideration. We're probably going to struggle at times during the season," Byrd said. "I want
to win more than we did last year and I honestly have a lot of faith in these girls and my coaching
staff, and I think we can get that done."
Other than lack of size being a potential weakness,
there are other areas where the Lady Red need to improve.
"We need to work on taking care of
that basketball and not turning it over," Byrd said. "That goes along with making good decisions
when you have the basketball and not forcing passes. We're going to be playing up-tempo, so that
becomes even more important."
"Another weakness, my posts have got to step up. They've got to
start working hard. There are going to be about four or five of them I'm rotating around in and out
of there, and they're just going to have to play tough because we're going to be outsized. Am I
worried? No. Not a bit, because I know
my posts are going to work hard."
Despite all of
the newness and adjusting to the high school game, Byrd is ready for the season to begin. He is most
excited to see how his team responds to adversity.
"I'm excited... I'm anxious," Byrd said.
"I don't know what to expect. I'm thinking positive but what's going to happen to us if something
negative happens? Are we going to crumble, or are we going to stand tall and keep
"That's what I'm putting in their head. I'm really anxious to see if they're going
to buy into that because that is what makes a team. That's what makes a very competitive team. Are
you going to crumble and lay down when the circumstances get tough? Are you going to crawl in your
shell, or are you going to step up, accept the challenge and go after it? I'm anxious to see that,"
Cocke County opens at Hardin Valley on Tuesday in a Hall of Fame game. They host
Greenville on Thursday.
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