Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
FRANKFORT — When Adena announced the hire of Kyle Bradley as the head coach of its boys basketball program, Bradley was already peeking into the future.
‘Upon his hire, before the 2016-17 season, Bradley said his goal was to build a stable program where opponents would respect the way his players get after it each night.
This season, Bradley has his Warriors sitting at 8-3 overall with a 6-1 mark in the Scioto Valley Conference. Opponents certainly respect the way Adena plays the game and if you’ve got the Warriors on your schedule, rest assured you’re in for a dogfight.
Of course, there’s still work to be done, but so far? He’s well on his way to fulfilling his prophecy.
I had the chance to catch up with Bradley and ask him about the Warriors’ potential ceiling, all-conference players Zach Fout and Jarrett Garrison, the second round of league play and much more.
Question: You and I talked a good bit last season about how good your program could be. This season, it seems as if you’ve taken that next step. Where do you think the program is now and what’s the ceiling for it?
Bradley: When we discussed the potential growth of our program last year, I had two things in mind and those were [for our players] to buy in and to have a passion to work on their game in the offseason. Credit to this group; they attended everything all summer and not only worked but got a chance to experience success, which I thought was huge following the struggles of last season. As we stand, currently I feel we are a program on the rise that’s still trying to really establish our identity and gain a comfort level when it comes to big games and the environment. I think this past Friday against Zane Trace showed us two things: one, our improvement from last year and the effectiveness of the mismatches we present and two, the areas of our game that need to continue to grow in order to achieve our goals.
Q: You mentioned last week’s contest against Zane Trace. Sold out crowd and a great atmosphere, one Frankfort hasn’t seen in a long time. I know it’s a loss but how cool was it to see your boys represented in that way?
KB: What an environment! First off, thanks to the community for coming out and supporting us in a big way. The most exciting part about the environment, in my opinion, is this is just the start for this group and program. It’s really nice to see all of their hard work pay off in a big way.
Q: You’ll get another shot at those Pioneers. What does your team have to do to provide a different result down the road?
KB: Moving into league play the second time around, you have to be a much more efficient basketball team on both ends. Everyone knows your strengths and weaknesses and being able to sure up those areas will go along way in being successful. As a team, we have to continue to improve defensively and take advantage of each offensive possession … something we haven’t done a great job of to this point. Our league is really solid top to bottom so we’re taking it one game at a time.
Q: Jarrett Garrison. The word “dynamic” comes to mind. How has he progressed as a player and a leader, and what’s next for him?
KB: Jarrett is definitely a dynamic player that can do a lot of different things for us. He sees the floor at a really high level and has the ability to pass people open, which is a great trait for a point guard. As far as his progression from year one to year two, I would say his ability to score the ball. He’s a really good shooter and at times, becomes too unselfish, which is a great trait, passing on good shots. As the season has moved along, I feel he’s figured out a healthy balance of when to get guys going and when to look to score, which is a tough thing to do as a point guard. The growth of Preston Sykes has also helped him when facing pressure and lessened the weight on his shoulders when it comes to running the offense.
Q: So much of the spotlight does go to Jarrett because of his bright future. But he’s got a supporting cast that’s as strong as they come. Can you talk about kids like Zach Fout and Logan Bennett and describe what they bring to the table?
KB: Zach has been a huge part to our success and is such a tough matchup. He can score it inside and out and is really good in the open court. Most teams have focused on stopping him, which has really opened up things for his teammates. I look for him to have a big second half of the season. Logan Bennett gets better with each practice and he’s another guy along, with Preston Sykes, that can score it inside and out. LB does a lot of different things for us, one of those being hitting glass hard and giving us second chance opportunities.
Q: In terms of you personally, what do you think your best aspect is as a coach? What can you work on?
KB: As for me personally, I feel one of my best aspects as a coach is really emphasizing the importance of the little things, basic fundamentals. At this level, I think it can be easy to lose sight of what builds a solid foundation and get caught up in the X’s and O’s of the game. Identifying simple skills and driving home the importance of those, in my opinion, is the difference in winning and losing. On the other side, one area that I can continue to develop and work on is in-game adjustments. I try to watch as much film as possible, but being in the moment and having the ability to adjust on the fly is something that will continue to develop with time.
Q: Where does this team finish? Have any goals been set?
KB: When we set goals at the beginning of the season, we set individual game goals and if we achieve those, we will be in a good position to be successful. Everyone wants to win a league title and get to the Convo in southeast Ohio. But I challenge my guys and want to know how are we going to get there.