By Jason B. Hogan
Coach Will Dykes is looking to follow up on the success of his Lady Rangers basketball team.
Last semester, the Lady Rangers went undefeated in regular season competition.
This year, the venerable ladies’ squad returns seven of last semester’s team members with three new exceptionally well-rounded players.
Brand new for Dykes to contend with this semester will be pulling double duty as the Lady Rangers head coach while picking up the reins of the men’s basketball team.
Dykes was put to the test Tuesday evening with both teams’ first day of practice having to incorporate time and space for the teams to run practice drills simultaneously.
With the retention of the bulk of the women’s roster from last semester, Dykes held on to a core nucleus that understands and accepts his ideal of team concept and chemistry.
“That’s the thing,” Dykes said. “They already know what I want.”
With a scattering of gym bags, the Lady Rangers prepared to work.
Conviction chiseled into their faces, the Lady Rangers stood on the court, nothing between them and their ultimate goal of success but time and hard work.
Dykes said it should not be a difficult thing. “They are going to make my job easy,” Dykes said. “They know what I want.”
In contrast, Dykes is hopeful that he will have a defined role for each of the 14 on the men’s roster.
The men’s practice consisted of set plays that Dykes continually runs in his offense.
He said they are the same designer plays that he uses for the Lady Rangers that have brought them much success.
“I want to teach them (Ranger men) the press,” Dykes said. “They probably won’t get it by the first game. The ladies got it down in two games, so it is all going to be self-determined.”
Dykes’ primary objective for the men’s practice was to obtain some kind of consistency with each player’s position on offense within each offensive set.
“Hopefully, everybody can get on the same page,” Dykes said. “I’ve got to tell them their roles.”
After a shaky start and a couple hours of practice, they began to look like a team.
Their drills were fluid and coordinated, something that has become synonymous with Dykes’ coaching style.
The practice culminated with the issue of new practice uniforms for the men’s squad, a true sign of a team.
The two teams began practice in two gyms, joined for a while in one and then separated again.
But, hopefully, by semester’s end, they will stand bonded by an equal achievement, sole ownership of the No. 1 spot.
“After Wednesday,” Dykes said, “I’ll see how they respond to pressure.”