Patriots have ton of talent
By JODY MURPHY
There's no denying Parkersburg South's Joe Crislip has a plethora
of talent on his boys basketball team.
Crislip says he's got 14 players capable of playing significant varsity
minutes this season.
But does he have too much talent and not enough minutes to go around?
"I do worry about the minutes," he said. "I don't worry about the
(offense); it'll take care of itself. I have 14 kids here who can
play. But as a coach, I can't play all 14 kids a game because that'll
ruin the chemistry.
"It's going to be tough, but I'd rather be in that position than
not have five quality starters."
The coach says he'll use the early season to find the team's best
eight or nine players, who will see the bulk of action as the Patriots
edge toward March and the postseason.
"As the games go on, the top eight or nine kids will rise to the
top," he said.
South has 10 returnees back from last season's state tournament team.
The Patriots have also picked up newcomers Ben Gum, who averaged
six points a game as a sophomore at Warren last season,Ade Baruwa,
a 6-5 transfer from Huntington, and freshman Aaron Dobson.
Depth won't be a problem and, according to Crislip, neither will
be keeping players happy.
"As a coach, I don't worry about egos. All the kids will play in
the scrimmages. After that, I'll start meeting with them and say,
'This is where I forsee you. You don't have to agree with me, but
this is where I see you playing.' "
Crislip says being honest and straightforward with his players about
their skills and ability will go along way towards keeping the team
unified and free of animosity.
"If you're up front with kids, they'll work harder to try to improve
and prove me wrong. And I've been proven wrong a lot."
Early on, every member of South's varsity team will see solid playing
time, especially with two Patriot stars out with injuries.
Point guard Trent McCallister, who has a broken bone in his foot,
will be out of action until mid-January.
All-star football player Matt Shamblin, who suffered a broken toe
in the first round of the playoffs, is having surgery next week and
is expected to be out until the Jan. 4 game with Princeton. The 6-
foot-3 sharpshooter will miss the season opener at Wheeling Park
and the entire Parkersburg High Holiday Tournament.
The early-season loss of Shamblin is no surprise to the coach, who
knew the toe injury would need time to heal after the football season.
While most coaches would fret over the losses, Crislip sees it as
an opportunity for his other players.
The coach says he'll play as many kids as he can in the early part
of the season.
"I may play as many as 12 kids early in the season," Crislip said,
"to get them some game experience. You never know who's going to
get hurt down the stretch."
Parkersburg South will open its season Dec. 20 at Wheeling Park.
The school is chartering fan buses to the game. Cost is $15 per seat,
including ticket. Sign up for the trip at the athletic office through
Wednesday, Dec. 18. Charter buses will be departing 3:30 p.m.