Local hoops teams offer excitement, promise

I’m extremely excited about the basketball potential in the area. I’ve interviewed three coaches on the hoops side so far about their summer progress … and each went 9-1 in summer league play. Perhaps it’s a good sign of things to come; I, at least, expect it to be such.

Obviously, coach Angi Butler of the Destrehan girls has plenty to be excited about. The Wildcats were one of the state’s upper, upper crust teams, with an All-State superstar and perennial MVP threat in Cara Ursin leading the way.  Destrehan walloped most teams last season by a very large point differential; it’s the rare team that an opponent being  simply ‘very good’ is probably not enough to stay within 20. I’ve had the pleasure of watching them play a few times, most often against East St. John, and Destrehan was all it was advertised as and more.

Of course, with all the success of the girls team, the Destrehan boys are likely chomping at the bit to join them among state contenders. Indeed, they just might make a big leap this season. The Wildcats were very young last season but reached the postseason and provided a headache for all of their district opponents. David Green played an extremely impressive game against ESJ in Destrehan’s 60-56 home victory over the visiting Wildcats. Coach Todd Bourg says the Wildcats should boast a bigger frontline this season after playing a lot of small ball last season. Size and experience is often the difference between a lower playoff seed and a team that hosts in the first round. We’ll see if that holds true.

On the west bank, the Hahnville boys are looking to bounce back after finishing 14-16 last season. As those who read last week’s lead sports profile know, there’s a new man in charge of that operation: Rick Spring has never been comfortable with the status quo, and fans of offensive-minded basketball might be thrilled at the results the Tigers turn in this season.

A fellow writer and friend, Chris Kinkaid, covered Spring’s Slidell teams (Chris was a longtime writer for the St. Tammany News). He tried to give me an idea of what to expect.

RA: “So, you say they play fast? Like Riverside, I take it.”

CK: “No … no you’re not hearing me. I’ve seen Riverside. They play fast. Rick is something else entirely.”

I asked coach Spring if his style was at all reminiscent of the Loyola Marymount teams of the early 90s, and he gave a small smile and answered, “You might say that. I’m familiar with Coach (Paul) Westhead … there are a lot of elements of it, although we do other things as well.”

I love when coaches bring radically different stylistic elements. You see it more on the college level than the professional, but it always adds flavor and intrigue to the sport to have those contrasting approaches. Something tells me we’ll have plenty of that to enjoy in the coming season.


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