With only one win between both teams in 2010-2011, the JEB Stuart boys and girls basketball teams have nowhere to go but up. "Raider Nation" hopes that new coaches for both squads will be the right fit.
Brandon Sutphin, last year's JV coach and a jack of all trades who also coaches the JV field hockey and JV baseball teams, takes over a team that has struggled mightily for more than a decade. With four seniors and five juniors on his roster, he will not only benefit from a more experienced lineup, but one featuring some key additions. Texas transfer Krystal Greenwood (Sr.) joins Kelsey Grant (Sr.) as instant upgrades offensively, while pair of six-foot sophomores, Thanh Ly and Ajae Tysor should give the Lady Raiders an edge inside. Sutphin's primary goal is to increase the basketball IQ for girls who had never played organized basketball before high school.
"With this team, one thing that I'm trying to do is increase the knowledge of basketball, and that starts with my freshmen all the way up to my seniors," Sutphin said.
The early part of the schedule should provide Stuart with its best opportunities to pick up some momentum. The Lady Raiders open against Jefferson and Lee, a pair of teams that also struggled last year and lost significant talent.
"Our schedule is set up pretty well," Sutphin said. "I'm looking for three to five wins this year. Honestly, it's not going to be the same Stuart team that the community has seen the last four of five years."
While that prediction may seem like incidental improvement, it would certainly represent a change in mentality for a program that does not want to be accustomed to losing anymore.
PJ Kelly takes over the boys team after spending the last nine years as head coach at Fairfax. He inherits a Stuart team that has fallen on hard times after a successful run from 2007-2009. The Raiders graduated just one starter, William Haynes, but will be without the talented backcourt duo of Amir Biddle and Ryon Faison, both of whom are academically ineligible until at least late-January. The seniors appear to be in their coach's good graces and will hope to come back to a team that still has something to play for near the end of the regular season.
"They knew the situation and the expectations," Kelly said. "They're disappointed. But they've been coming to every practice."
The boys team has a transfer of its own that should have an immediate impact. Austin Singer moved to the area late last year from Philadelphia, and looked impressive in a scrimmage with George Mason on Tuesday. He displayed his perimeter shooting as well as an ability to drive to the basket, and adds a defensive presence as well.
Kelly will bring a faster tempo to this year's team, a big change from Antonio Harris' deliberate style of play in recent years. The Raiders held 10 opponents to 50 or fewer points last year, but managed to reach that same mark only once themselves in their lone win over Falls Church, 58-40. That should change this year.
"Last year they did a really good job of controlling the tempo and we're going to have to do that sometimes," Kelly said. "[But] we're going to try to push it if it's there. I don't want to walk the ball up the court."
Varsity Girls Quick Look
Head Coach: Brandon Sutphin
2010 Record: 0-23
Key Losses: Allison Schulman, Angie McCaffrey
Key Additions: Krystal Greenwood, Kelsey Grant, Thanh Ly, Ajae Tysor
2011-2012 Schedule: Click Here
Varsity Boys Quick Look
Head Coach: P.J. Kelly
2010 Record: 1-21
Key Losses: William Haynes
Key Additions: Austin Singer
2011-2012 Schedule: Click Here