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Reed boys basketball faces familiar challenge
by Dan Eckles
Nov 29, 2013 | 1083 views | 0 0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune photo by John Byrne - Reed's Jack Kuchler works in the post while being pushed on to simulate in-game contact. The drill took place during the Raiders' Tuesday night workout.
Tribune photo by John Byrne - Reed's Jack Kuchler works in the post while being pushed on to simulate in-game contact. The drill took place during the Raiders' Tuesday night workout.
Dustin Hall is entering his sixth season at the helm of the Reed boys basketball program. One might think the job would get a little easier with each passing season. However, Hall says that's not the case, at least for him.

"Every year I feel like I've got everything set and then every year is a little different," Hall said. "Whether it's not enough practice or a new issue or maybe it's the football thing, but I always end up feeling like we're behind. "We've had a good fall and good open gyms, but I still feel that way. I guess that's the glass-is-half-empty side of me."

A lot of coaches might feel like they were two steps behind at the start of each season if they were in Hall's shoes. Reed's football team has won three-straight regional championships and four of the last five. That means Hall is never playing with a full deck at the start of each fall campaign. He's always a few cards short for the beginning of the season.

The Raiders' preseason camp is short four player varsity players, a group that includes two potential starters and two more key reserves. Among that contingent is Trae Wells, Reed's leading receiver on the gridiron and a first-team all-league guard/forward on the hardwood.

Reed will not have its full contingent of players for Opening Night Tuesday at Galena and may not have them until Dec. 14, depending on whether or not the Raiders' football team advances to next weekend's state final in Las Vegas.

"It's the same old story," Hall said. "Our football team is having a lot of success and we've got a lot of guys playing both, but we're working hard and we'll be ready to go with what we have."

Reed's current shortage of players has made practice tough at times, but Hall has found an answer.

"Our assistant coaches are getting a lot of playing time. The assistants are getting in good shape," Hall quipped.

Reed lost 10 players form last year's roster, eight graduated seniors and two others who chose not to play. Still, Hall believes his RHS hoopsters should be able to compete with anybody in northern Nevada once they get a complete roster and some time to gel.

In addition to Wells, Reed brings back senior Alonzo Vega and junior Devin Herbert. Two years ago, Jamel Ramos played for Reed as a freshman. He is back for his junior year after sitting out last year while being ineligible.

"I feel like we're doing well," Herbert said. "But we have to improve. We still have to put it all together, but we will."

Hall is optimistic about a new season too.

"I like our group. They're tough; and Reed always has tough kids," Hall said. "Depth could be an issue. We may have some bumps and bruises along the way.

"It may take until mid-January for us to click on all cylinders, but that's exciting too. I don't want to peak too early. You don't want to peak at Christmas."

Reed's potential starting group could be long and athletic. That's one reason Hall believes team defense could be a big asset for his club.

"I think we can be a really strong defensive team," Hall said. "In past years, we didn't have as much length at the guard position. We didn't have as many guys that could rebound and then guard the ball too. I definitely think we can be long and disrupt tome guys ... The last few years we've looked to speed up the game in the full-court. We'll always want to pick up a fast tempo. This year, you might see some different defensive looks, but we'll always look to pressure and create tempo."

While team defense could be a strength, experience won't be, especially early on. With Ramos missing last season and the absence of the squad's football players, Hall will only have two players on the floor, Herbert and Vega who played a year ago.

"We've got a lot of inexperience," he said. "The guards may struggle with spacing and reading defenses. We just need to understand that everyday is about getting better in practice."

Vega echoed that sentiment.

"We're getting ready for the season, but we're not where we want to be," he said. "We have a long way to go, but as the season goes, we can get where we want to be. We'll get there. I'm excited to get going. I'm ready for the season and ready to start."

Hall said he has avoided talking with the team much about goals and expectations, instead choosing to wait until his entire team is on the practice floor.

"We've only talked a little bit about it," he said. "We want to wait until we get all 12 guys suited up. Right now, the No. 1 goal is getting better every day. When the football guys get back, we'll talk about what we want to be."

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