Academy defense: man, you, ball

Kingman Academy principal Jeff Martin demonstrates how the Tigers should be playing defense with his son, Cade Martin, during Wednesday’s practice.

Photo by JT Keith.

Kingman Academy principal Jeff Martin demonstrates how the Tigers should be playing defense with his son, Cade Martin, during Wednesday’s practice.

KINGMAN – Kingman Academy boys’ basketball coach Brian Devincenzi can’t wait to let his Tigers out of their cages to play Antelope Union Jan. 3. For a little more than three hours on Wednesday afternoon he ran his team, preached to his team, cajoled them and had them get physical with each other. He even had another coach substitute to describe what he wanted for his team’s defense. Devincenzi’s preaching is all about a simple basic concept of man, you, and ball. It’s what his team will hang their hat on for a nine-game push to the state playoff.

“That means you can take your right index finger and your left index finger and point them at the ball and your man and see them both at the same time,” Devincenzi said. “It is a simple concept that has been around basketball since the ages of time. As soon as you have to turn your head to see one or the other of those (man or ball) you’re doing something wrong. That means you haven’t sunk the triangle deep enough to see both of those.”

He feels that getting four of his players back from injury will help his team become tournament ready. In their last game against Northland Prep, the Tigers played with four of their starters out. In the second game back from the holiday break, Devincenzi will have all of his starters back.

“You can see we have talent,” Devincenzi said. “The players have to build that chemistry and get to that point where they play as one, and they trust each other. We are not there yet, but it is coming.”

Look for big things out of David Larrabee, a transfer from River Valley. While there he played shooting guard, but he will be asked to play point guard for the Tigers. He will suit up Jan. 6, be asked to run the offense, look for his shot, and distribute the ball to his inside power forward Cade Martin.

Another reason for the endurance practices is that Devincenzi feels like his team wasn’t in the best of shape for the first half of the season.

What Devincenzi hopes is that his team jells in the second half. He believes they must rely on each other and play as one unit, which only comes from putting time on the court together. Trying to mesh a basketball unit in less than three months is like trying to age fine wine before its time.

“I’m very excited to get my full roster back,” Devincenzi said. “Our number one player Cade Martin has been out the last two and a half weeks and is coming back. We lost him three minutes into the Page tournament. We’ll get some firepower back and that will make the rest of the season fun.”

Even though the team’s record stands at 3-7, it is looking at the crucial nine-game stretch that will determine their season, as the last push toward the qualifying for state tournament.

“Our whole thing is that we haven’t played a region game yet,” Devincenzi said. “Our record is zero-zero, and right now is when we make our run for state.”