When the Madison Southern Eagles take the floor Dec. 3 against Madison Central, fans might need a roster to figure out who is on the floor.
The Eagles, coming off a very good season last year, are faced with the task of replacing 11 players from a team that won 17 games.
Only three players — senior Devante Linville, junior Tanner Kidwell and sophomore Stacy Burns — have scored a point in a varsity game.
That means that Southern coach Shane Buttry and his staff basically have to start from scratch.
“Practice has been good, but it’s been kind of slow learning what we’re doing,” Buttry said. “Last year, our guys had done everything we asked of them so many times they knew exactly what to do. This year we are going to have to go step-by-step and teach every little thing all over again.”
Like many other teams, that process has been slowed because Linville and Andrew Miller just finished up playing for the football Eagles last week and Kidwell joined the team a few weeks earlier after soccer season ended.
But while the Eagles are extremely inexperienced, Buttry said there is some talent there, it will just take time to develop it.
“My biggest concern is just the inexperience, but there’s nothing you can do about that. We’ve got some really nice players and some young kids who know how to play the game,” Buttry said. “I’m really comfortable with our top eight players. You’ve just got to get some games under their belts. It’s just going to take a while.”
Tanner and freshman Michael Jefferson will be asked to run the point for the Eagles. Buttry said it’s too early to tell which, and said he wouldn’t be surprised if they both weren’t on the floor at the same time.
“Both of them have their positives about them, so it is either-or right now. But we want to run quit a bit, so having both of them on the floor at once is not really a bad thing,” he said.
The Eagles will have some size on the inside with Linville, Burns and sophomore center Andrew Miller, who Buttry said he is expecting some big things from.
“Andrew has had a really good summer for us. He was either our first or second leading scorer all summer so we’re looking forward to getting him out there,” Buttry said. “He’s a little over 6-foot-3 and about 215 pounds right now so he is a big kid. He moves pretty well and gets good position under the basket and he is really strong.”
The Eagles will be without another starter from last years team other than the departed seniors.
Junior Damien Harris, the Eagles football star, who committed to the University of Michigan, will not be playing basketball this season.
Harris, who was a main cog in the Eagles’ success last season wants to play, but Michigan coaches encouraged him to forgo basketball. Buttry said while he could use the talented Harris, he fully understands the quandary the player faced
Buttry said it will take some time to figure out exactly who will be starting when the Eagles line up against Central on Dec. 3.
“I really can’t say it will be this five guys out there because until we get everyone out there and get some practice and some scrimmages under our belts, we won’t know,” Buttry said. “It is a work in progress right now, but we play for February anyway. But I feel real good about us right now because we have a lot of gym rats. They are an eager group and want to learn. It’s just going to take some experience.”