Central Arkansas Christian Mustangs
October 30, 2011
Coach: Steve Quattlebaum (second season, 9-16)
Assistant coach: Cade Smith
2010-11 record: 9-16 overall (7-7 conference), lost in first round of Class 5A State Tournament to Sylvan Hills, the eventual runner-up.
Returning starters: Josh Adams (6-1 senior guard); Benjamin Shields (6-3 senior forward); Josh Holland (6-2 junior forward); Beau Barnes (5-8 junior guard); Logan Stafford (5-9 junior forward); Dylan Sherrill (5-10 junior guard). Adams, who led the team in scoring and assists and was third in rebounding, is the team’s best athlete, Quattlebaum said. “He is an excellent defender,” the coach said. “Shields really came on at the end of the year. He was our second-leading scorer and the leader in rebounds. He plays extremely hard and needs to have a big year. Holland was the most improved player last year. He is a strong defender and rebounder and had a good summer. Barnes started half the games at point guard. He is a good defender and doesn’t turn the ball over.” Stafford was the third-leading scorer and the best 3-point shooter last year and led the team in steals. Sherrill can play the point or the shooting guard position. He was the leader in assists despite missing the last eight games with mononucleosis.
Best inside players: Shields played outside before last season, when Quattlebaum moved him to the power forward position. “He really became a good post player,” the coach said. “He plays very hard. Sometimes he’s out of control; he must work on that this year.” Holland made big strides last year and was one of the Mustangs’ best defenders. He scored in double figures in six games. Tim Evans, a 6-2 senior forward, “can play a little inside and out,” the coach said. “He does not have a lot of experience, but he improved a lot in practice last year.”
Best outside players: Adams averaged 9 points per game last year, and Quattlebaum expects great things from him again this season. Sherrill, a good shooter, can play the 1 or 2 position. Newcomers include Travis Bean (6-1 junior), Eric Bentley (5-10 sophomore), Joseph Strange (5-10 sophomore) and Elijah Loring (5-5 sophomore). Bean had a good summer, Quattlebaum said. “He’s a good athlete,” the coach said. “Bentley was the leading scorer on the junior high team last year. Strange may help inside and outside. Loring will be eligible at semester and will provide depth in the backcourt.”
How will you match/exceed/fall short of your success from last year? Quattlebaum, the longtime Lady Mustang coach, said he thought his second boys team would be much better, partly because of numbers and depth. “We finished the year with nine players last year,” he said. “We have all five starters back and a sixth who started the last 10 games. They have a better understanding of our system and the style of play, and they have confidence gained from a pretty good summer of camps.”
Strengths of the team: Quattlebaum said his team would be versatile. “The lack of a true post player makes it difficult for teams to guard our posts,” he said. “They work hard and take coaching well. They are athletic and should be able to press a little more this year with the added depth.” The Mustangs return seven of their top nine players from last year. Quattlebaum called them “very unselfish.”
Weaknesses of the team: Lack of size. “It is hard for us to guard a really good big post player,” Quattebaum said. “We need to improve our overall shooting ability and team defense.”
Games to watch: December’s match with Pulaski Academy marks a great rivalry. Little Rock Christian is another rivalry that should yield a very competitive game. “Camden Fairview was one of the teams we just couldn’t match up with last year,” Quattlebaum said. “That game will be a good measure of how far we have come.”
Toughest opponent: Quattlebaum said Pulaski Academy would feature a very good, big post player and a great guard. “Camden Fairview is head and shoulders the best team in our conference,” he said.
College prospects: Although there has been no real attention yet, Quattlebaum said Josh Adams could develop into a prospect. “He is a great athlete and made great progress in a year,” the coach said.
In a nutshell: “I feel good about this team,” Quattlebaum said. “We are way ahead of this time last year. We have 10 not playing football and working (on basketball) in fall camp compared to four (last year). We have five starters back. We need to get off to a better start after losing the first nine games last season.” This is the first time in their careers the Mustang seniors have had the same coach two years in a row.