By MIKE PHILLIPS / Corsicana Sun —
Michael Landers came right to the point.
“Our goal is to be playing in Kansas in March,” said Landers, who starts his second year as Navarro’s men’s basketball coach with more confidence and a different feeling about his team and Region XIV.
“Obviously, I have a better idea of what to expect and what to prepare for the preseason games and for what’s coming in the region,” he said this week as he prepared Navarro for its opener in Tomball on Saturday. “I have a better idea of things that will work and be successful against our opponents.
“We know how we want to play. It’s just a matter of the coaches working with the kids and putting ourselves in position to be successful.”
Landers’ Bulldogs were incredibly entertaining and went to the buzzer almost every night with a balanced brand of hoops where opponents couldn’t zero in on one or two players team because everyone is a weapon. It was a gut-wrenching season full of tight games and dramatic endings.
“I was involved in more two possession games last year than I had been involved in the previous nine years I was at Trinity Valley,” said Landers, whose team went 21-11 and 14-5 in the region race. “Last year we had a good year, but we didn’t reach our goal of the bar (former coach Johnny) Estelle had set.”
Landers preaches progression and his team followed that script, literally getting better with every game down the stretch. The Bulldogs were peaking at the right time, winning seven of eight going into the Region XIV Tournament. They built a 19-point lead over Angelina and then were stunned with an opening round loss. Navarro has four players back from that game.
“They took it hard,” Landers said. “We talked a lot about that game this fall. I think it’s something that will drive us this year.”
His four returners are guards Chris Boleware and DaShawn Robinson, who both started, and guard Trey Young and Neville Fincher, a 6-9 post who came on strong in the second half of the season.
“We have some returners who will have confidence coming into this season,” Landers said. “We have four guys who played good minutes in this league and they will provide leadership for the younger players. We are going to rely on them for that.”
Boleware averaged eight points a game and hit some big shots, including game-winners last year, and Robinson (6.5 p.p.g.) had big moments and led at times. But Navarro will get points from all over the court.
“Ideally, we would like to have four or five guys right around double figures every night,” Landers said. “I can see a number of guys who could lead us in scoring.”
Landers likes to play fast, and he expects this year’s team to be even quicker than last year.
“We’re going to play at a real fast pace,” he said. “Our guys are seeing that.”
The idea is to run all the way to Kansas and the nationals.
“We’ve got a chance to be very good,” Landers said