Aberdeen Boys Basketball Finding its Identity
Aberdeen boys basketball head coach Johnny Brooks admits he didn't know what to expect entering the regular season back in December.
The Eagles finished 12-9 last season and were supposed to be returning a lot of talent from that group, but due to late transfers and players' families moving, Aberdeen ended up losing a lot more than previously expected. Not only was the number large, but the size of the players too- Aberdeen lost five key players from last year's team, four of which are at least 6-foot-4. The Eagles were inconsistent as a result, starting with a 3-4 record.
It's been a different story for the Eagles though since Jan. 6 when they topped defending MPSSAA 3A state champion, C. Milton Wright, 58-47. Aberdeen has won eight straight games, beating its opponents by an average of a little under 14 points per game, and now stands at an 11-4 mark.
The list of opponents the Eagles have beaten during this stretch is also impressive, topping teams like Joppatowne, Harford Tech and Edgewood, all of which are having standout seasons.
"Lately, we've been sharing the ball more and passing ahead. Trust was an issue earlier- we were dealing with forced shots which was causing poor defense," Brooks said. "We are starting to develop better chemistry, which is one of the key factors to our success."
Another key factor to the team's success has been the addition of two new players to Aberdeen's basketball program- senior forward Myles Douglas and senior guard Jayden Saddler.
In Douglas, who is averaging 22 points and seven rebounds a game, the Eagles possess a match-up nightmare for opponents. He stands at 6-foot-7 but has the skill set of a guard, making it difficult to find someone who can stick with both his size and speed.
Saddler has also had an excellent season, averaging 16 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Standing at 6-feet, Brooks says Saddler plays a lot bigger than his height, and credits him with being the most athletic and toughest kid on the team. His commitment on defense is also exceptional, always drawing excitement from getting to guard the opposition's best player.
"Douglas and Saddler are a tough duo to deal with," Brooks said. "Both have great ball skills, athleticism and their competitiveness is off the charts."
To simply hone in on Douglas and Saddler would be a mistake for opponents though- Aberdeen has a lot of different ways they can hurt opponents.
Speedy senior point guard Antwan Thompson is having an excellent senior season. He's been particularly effective on defense, using his quickness to disrupt the opposition's plans.
Junior 6-foot-3 forward Ishawn Bryant has been a consistent inside presence, while sophomore 6-foot-10 center KiVon Brown continues to improve and contribute. Senior guard Tyrell Lacoste has also had a lethal shooting touch from outside positions.
It makes for a tricky group for opponents to thrive against, though Brooks credits the win against C. Milton Wright as being the one that brought the team together to realize its full potential.
"That was the first game where we started trusting and sharing the ball," Brooks said. "We played a great first half on defense and I believe they finally realized that defense was where we were going to hang our hats."
With the team embracing its identity and playing at a high level, Brooks has now gone from not being sure what to expect from his team, to having big goals.
"It was hard to have any real expectations because of the loss of so many players, but with the additions of Myles and Jayden, anything short of College Park would be considered a disappointment," Brooks said. "As always, staying healthy and a little luck never hurt anyone."
|January 30th, 2017||By: Wick Eisenberg|