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Warriors look to build toward successful season

By jhornberg
Nov. 16, 2010 at 5:16 a.m.

Victoria West post Clayton Cain goes up for a lay up in the third quarter against Brazosport on Tuesday. Cain, a junior, said he is looking to improve his defensive skills this season, and is still adjusting to the speed of the varsity game after playing on the JV last year.

Pat Erskine is well aware of the deficit in experience on his Victoria West team.

"My son Drew played nine games on varsity last year, but he didn't letter, he was pulled up (from the JV) and sent back down," Erskine said. "He hasn't had a full season. The rest are JV kids."

But with each experience early this season, he's expecting them to grow.

"We know we're not too experienced, and get a feel for it," said junior guard Drew Erskine. "No one really has any varsity experience, we didn't really know what to expect. So we came out a little jittery."

The Warriors scrimmaged twice in advance of Tuesday's season opener at home against Brazosport, and it gave their coach a chance to see what they need to work on.

The season didn't exactly get off to a strong start.

Victoria West allowed a speedy Exporters team to run wild for the first half of the game, jumping out to a 20-point lead that they would not relinquish in a 89-68 loss to open the season Tuesday night.

Pat Erskine isn't worried. Brazosport, he said, plays a style of basketball that is faster than what the Warriors (0-1) expect to see in district.

"The easiest games we're going to play are in district," said junior post Clayton Cain. "That's the way our coaches set up the season. I think we'll do a lot better as the season goes on."

Cain said he's still adjusting to the difference in the speed of the game, and said he's looking to improve his defensive game.

"I need to get on the boards more definitely, play harder and get faster," Cain said. "Varsity is a lot faster game than JV."

Plus, they've been scrimmaging against faster and larger teams.

"We felt like we got a lot better, and we were playing teams that were a lot bigger and faster than us," Pat Erskine said before the game. "I think they learned that the game is faster from JV to varsity.

"I also think they learned that it's going to take a lot of teamwork and a lot of hard work because the talent that we have compared to some of those teams is significantly different."

What are those differences?

Size, for one thing.

Erskine said the Warriors tallest player is 6-foot-5, and they were going up against players who were between 6-foot-8 and 6-foot-10 in their scrimmages.

And it forced the Warriors to try different things defensively.

"Going from offense to defense, we're doing a lot different strategies than what they've been in the last few years," he said. "We're planning to play a little bit more man defense."

The defensive woes still haunted Victoria West on Tuesday night. They struggled to grab rebounds at either side of the court.

Drew Erskine said the Warriors lapsed into playing their opponents game.

"We played into their game plan," he said. "They came out knowing we were a lot quicker and faster than us, and we came in knowing we were going to have to slow it down. And we got sucked into it."

Particularly bedeviling to the Warriors defense was junior guard D.J. Griggs, who dominated the first half with 27 points before halftime. He finished with 35.

Of the Exporters 32 second quarter points, 17 were from Griggs.

Drew Erskine said the guard's speed was only part of the problem. He was hitting almost every shot he took early.

"He was a really good player, we had a hard time stopping him," "He was getting to the paint really easy, and finishing there. After he did that a few times, he stepped back and shot it."

But that changed in the second half. Pat Erskine said the team was able to contain him by putting sophomore guard James Murphy on him.

"We had to shut him down," "We put James on him. ... We were in a zone, and the zone just gave him the fire to shoot. So, we came out in the second half and said we have to stop him."

After several years at Memorial coaching with John Grammer, the coach at Victoria East, Pat Erskine and the team are suddenly faced with having to go against friends and former teammates.

"I think after we get going it will be like any other game," he said. "We talked about how East isn't the only game of the schedule. For what it's worth, I hope they win every game this year but two."

Brazosport 89, Victoria West 68

Victoria West - Clayton Cain 6; Royceton Buford 8; Drew Erskine 11; Jeremy Jimenez 19; James Murphy 4; Raymon Flores 6; Rico Valle 11; Nic Bufford 4.

Brazosport - D.J. Griggs 35.

Halftime: 52-32 Brazosport. 3-pointers: Jimenez 3, Valle 2. JV: 50-46 Brazosport; Freshmen: 62-23 Brazosport. Records: West 0-1, Brazosport 1-0.



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