Walker, Bulldogs working to find right team dynamics

Published 12:11 am Friday, December 20, 2019

The beauty of having a level roster of players is the diversity the team can afford to send out on the court, first-year Nederland head coach Jody Walker said.

“On any given night, it could be somebody different, and that’s been the case throughout the year if you look at the scores or go through the book,” he said. “Every night there could be somebody different. We can plug and play. We can go fast. We can go slow. We can go big. It’s coming together nice. I just have to try to keep them grounded, keep them focused and just keep grinding.”

The Bulldogs (9-10, 0-1 in 21-5A) lost their first district game to the Memorial Lady Titans on Tuesday 65-49. Memorial (2-17, 1-0 in 21-5A) started a two-game winning streak, its only wins of the season so far.

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Barbers Hill (15-3, 1-0 in 21-5A) will be a different story.

“It’s going to be a good game,” Walker said. “It’s a good challenge for us. I say we want to play the best, and they’ve been the best, not just last year but that is a great program.

“It’s a kind of measuring stick to see ‘Hey this is where we need to improve on. This is where we’re at, and this is reality. This what happened, this is what we need to fix’ and that’s kind of the way the Memorial game was. Going in you’re able to see things a little bit differently, come down a little bit, understand that it’s going to be a fight.”

From the Memorial loss, Walker sees that his team needs to try to keep from becoming frustrated. The girls will be competing against those that are just as athletic, if not more so, and not everyone may get the chance to play based solely on size and athleticism limitations.

It’s a lesson Walker himself is learning. A coach of 18 years, this is his first year as a varsity head coach, and whereas on freshman or junior varsity teams he would want to have everyone play, varsity demands more careful selections.

“I’m just trying to get the girls to understand that tonight might not be your night, but if your number’s called, you need to be ready,” he said. “I coach all our girls the same. It doesn’t matter if they’re a starter or they come off the bench or throughout the course of the year — all of our girls have started because I wanted to get rid of that label ‘I’m a starter.’ No, you’re part of a basketball team.”

The district games have only just begun, and there’s still time to gain more experience.

“Obviously as a coach you see things, you envision things on where you want to be,” Walker said. “We’re not quite where I thought we would be, but we’re right where we need to be. We’ve still got the season ahead of us. All of our goals are still out front and they’re still attainable.”