Turning up the heat

Bulldog boys basketball makes switch to pressure defense

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Good offense starts on the defensive end -- or so the saying goes. And that's what Moffat County boy's basketball coach Scott Parker is trying to emphasize this season.

"I want to establish a defensive presence this year with the program," Parker said, "playing pressure defense for 32 minutes every night."

In order for Parker and the Bulldogs to do that, players need to step up and make an impact, Parker said.

"I like our bench this year," he said. "We've got some kids who can definitely play on the perimeter and inside. They can step in for the guys who are starting, and I'm excited about our depth. I think we'll be better from the arc."

The Bulldogs have two returning starters in J.T. Haddan and Evan Hertzog. Haddan, an all-conference selection last season, averaged 7.1 points per game and shot 58.9 percent from the line. His physical stature at 6-2, 235 pounds makes him a strong presence inside, and Parker wants to use that to Moffat County's advantage.

"With J.T. and Eli (Buckner) inside, I think we're more physical than any team in the league," Parker said. "Eli was a kid last year who got injured, and we didn't get him into that varsity rotation. But he's also a kid with tremendous scoring ability inside and outside, and he and J.T. have really good chemistry together."

Another new addition for the Bulldogs is Clark Cleverly, a player who Parker said will complement the outside games of Hertzog, Mike Peters and sophomore Collin Jackson.

"With the exception of J.T., Evan and Peters, they're all new faces," Parker said.

The Bulldogs begin the 2006-07 season with a two-game homestand against Fruita and Grand Junction Central, both 5A schools.

"We have a tough schedule," Parker said. "It's actually a little tougher than last year. We open with the two 5A teams, and then we go to the Green River tournament in Wyoming, where we're going to play some big teams, just like we did last year. Then we go to Alamosa and play teams from the southern league. It (the southern league) is one of the toughest in the state, so we're excited to go down there and face some tough competition."

Still, it all comes back to defense for Parker and his squad.

"If we play good pressure defense, we'll be able to run the basketball," Parker said. "We can get out in transition and that was our biggest strength last year, and it was our biggest strength this summer. I love the running game and the kids like it, but it all starts on the defensive end, so we just need to be more consistent."

As Moffat County works toward that goal, it will also work on coming out of the season with a better record after going 11-12 last year.

The Bulldogs season begins 4 p.m. Tuesday Dec. 5, when Fruita rolls into town.

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