By Aaron Lommers Herald Writer
Meadowdale boys basketball coach Andy Streit said implementing a new system is a two-year process.
That process began last season, Streit’s second year at the helm for the Mavericks. The team deviated from more of a slower paced half-court game that it had played in the past to an uptempo offense and defense focused on pressuring the opponent into making mistakes.
It was a difficult transition. The Mavericks struggled to stay competitive, finishing the season just 4-16.
The second-year of the two-year process has been much more fruitful for Streit and his team. The Mavericks have already equaled their win total from 2012-13 after winning their first four games of the season, beating every team in the Wesco 4A South besides Jackson in consecutive games to open the season.
All nonleague victories, none of the Mavericks’ four wins thus far count in the standings, but it is clear this is a different team than it was a season ago.
How have the Mavericks improved so quickly?
“I guess it’s pretty simple and I guess not simple at the same time,” Streit said. “Number one, we are a year older and we have most of our team back. We had 10 guys back from the team last year, so that’s going to make an obvious difference. And, to be quite honest, our league was unbelievable last year. We had to play Shorewood, Glacier Peak, and (Mountlake) Terrace all twice and those teams were all ranked in the top-10 in state at some points — and Shorecrest was no slouch.
“I don’t think we were as bad as what our record looked. As far as what we are doing now, I just think a lot of factors like that have changed and it’s just making a huge difference.”
The Mavericks opened up their 3A Wesco South schedule last Friday against Mountlake Terrace. The Hawks handed the Mavericks their first loss of the season, 57-44. Though the Mavericks didn’t play well and lost the game, they played the Hawks even for three of the four quarters. The difference in the game proved to be a third-quarter run by Terrace.
The Mavericks also earned the respect of Hawks’ coach Nalin Sood.
“They got all their kids back from last year and all their kids are a little bit better,” Sood said. “That’s why they are going to better this year.”
The Mavericks will be looking for their first league victory of the season tonight when they face undefeated Shorewood. It’s the second consecutive game Meadowdale plays an unbeaten opponent.
Streit replaced Chad McGuire, who resigned following the 2010-11 season. But Streit didn’t immediately implement his new fast-paced philosophy in 2011-12.
“We had seven seniors on that team and I didn’t want to kind of change everything that first year,” Streit said. “I didn’t think that would be the best and I didn’t think that was necessarily their strength. I wanted to rely upon the system that they were playing with Chad and that would give us the best success transitionally.”
Streit and the team began to transition to the new system a season ago.
“Last year was our first year and now you are seeing some of the fruits (of our labor),” Streit said. “Guys throughout our program are getting better and more understanding of it.”
Helping the Mavericks’ dramatic improvement has been the play of senior point guard Barrett Carlow, who missed last season with a torn ACL in his right knee. Carlow wears a brace on that knee, but appears healthy and has been running them team’s offense so far this season.
In a way, Carlow’s injury has been a blessing in disguise.
“It allowed some guys, who are now subs, a lot of varsity experience,” Streit said. “He’s still has enough talent to where we are going to go with him and he’s going to learn on the fly. He’s going to grow and learn as the season goes on and get better with the system.”
Along with the return of Carlow, 6-foot-9 senior post Jacob Perkins has provided the Mavericks an inside presence that has been effective on both the offensive and defensive end.
“He’s been completely devoted to basketball in the offseason,” Streit said. “He’s played on several AAU teams and he’s played so many games. Obviously you can see his improvement. I still think his ceiling is two or three years away. He’s one of the youngest guys in his class. I think he will play in college.”
Perkins has provided consistent scoring for Meadowdale, but his contributions rebounding and defensively have been just as important.
“A big thing for me, even more than scoring, is to help the team out by rebounding and try to get big numbers on the offensive and defensive glass to try and boost our transition and help the unit as a whole,” Perkins said.
Things have started to come together for the Mavericks, but Streit declines to declare a final destination for his team. Instead, he just wants them to enjoy wherever they are going.
“We really do not focus on the final destination,” Streit said. “We really focus on enjoying day by day the journey and letting the results take care of themselves. There is only one team that wins state and if we measure our success by an end goal than we are going to lose. We are really trying to make sure that we are making growth everyday, that we are making memories, and our building our character, which will last longer.”
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.