Basketball season may not tipoff until November, but both of the Tullahoma High School basketball teams have already been hard at work on the floor this summer.
The schedule won’t loosen up at all, as both squads have several camps coming up during the preseason. While each team will have plenty of bonding time together, below are three key things that the two Tullahoma head coaches will be looking for during those camps.
1. Learning their team
For the most part, Lady Wildcats’ Head Coach Cody McMurtry knows what type of team that he has returning this winter. After all, the THS girls won the District 8-AAA Tournament title all without a senior player last season. On top of that, the team will have some incoming freshmen who could do wonders for the squad.
However, for newly hired Wildcats’ Head Coach Jason Welch, he’s still getting familiar with his team. In fact, tryouts for the incoming freshman just concluded this week, so Welch has been in the middle of finalizing his roster.
While still trying to familiarize himself with his players, the Wildcats will get set to take part in three camps in the first two weeks of the summer. The THS boys opened camp play on Friday, heading to Lebanon.
Following that stint, the Wildcats will then spend two days at Maryville College. Tullahoma will travel and play games on Monday, staying the night, before playing more games on Tuesday and then wrapping up the camp the same day.
Then on Thursday, the Wildcats will travel to Oakland to take part in that camp. The THS boys varsity team will face off against Riverdale, Franklin and Siegel during that camp.
While he knows that his team has a busy schedule in front of it, Welch said he’s excited to go see how his team can perform.
“We are going play a lot and just see who can play,” Welch said. “The secret to it sometimes is to just go out there and have live play against other teams and see who on our team can really play.”
Following those camps, Tullahoma will then have several teams come and take part in play days at the high school. Those play dates are scheduled for June 10, 17 and 19th.
“That way you can really work on stuff against people that you normally don’t get to play against,” Welch said.
The last thing that Tullahoma has scheduled for the month of June is a trip to Memphis to take part in the BCAT Hoopfest Team Camp.
“There should be plenty of college coaches there,” Welch said. “Hopefully [our players] will have a chance to be seen and get on the radar.”
2. Defense, defense, defense
While the THS boys team is still getting acclimated to their new coach, the Lady Wildcats have hit the ground running. During the preseason, McMurtry said his team has been working on their conditioning by running, practicing for two hours and spending plenty of time in the weight room trying to build muscle and get stronger.
On top of that, the Lady Wildcats will be attending several camps, including at Lee University, Tennessee Tech, University of Alabama, Belmont and one at Shelbyville Central. Tullahoma will also be hosting a pair of youth camps, while helping with a middle school play day, one that will see both East and West take part in games.
So far this preseason, offense hasn’t really been of concern for McMurtry and his staff. He said offense will come in time, however, his focus on these camps, is seeing how his team plays in the transition and how hard that they work on the court.
“Our big focus has been defense,” McMurtry said. “If you want to get on the floor, play defense. We really haven’t been putting in a whole lot of offensive sets.”
3. Squaring off against top teams
During these camps that both Tullahoma teams will be heading to, they’ll be facing off against some of the premier teams in the state.
During their first camp on Friday at Lebanon, the Wildcats’ varsity team was slated to take on Gallatin, Clarksville Northeast and Watertown.
The THS boys will then face Pulaski (Kentucky), Knoxville Catholic and Community on Monday at Maryville. Tullahoma will then face Community again on Tuesday, before squaring off against Jellico and concluding their camp against Loudon.
While the THS boys will face some tough competition during their camps, so will the Lady Wildcats. In fact, McMurtry noted that his team will be facing both Upperman and Brentwood Academy, teams that made it to their respective state tournaments in 2019. On top of that, he noted Tullahoma would also be facing several teams who made it to their respective region tournaments.
According to McMurtry, he wouldn’t have this preseason going any other way.
“We want a tough schedule,” McMurtry said. “We want to see what we are made of. With a lot of youth coming in, we want to see how they respond to it.”