Jay boys basketball coach Terry Sweeney has a unique situation as he prepares for the 2017-18 season.
He returns a majority of his starters, many who have been a regular on the court since their freshman season.
“We wanted to get better this summer over all,” said Sweeney. “We have a senior team coming back and we were looking to find players that can step in and provide depth.
"Also soon those senior players eligibility will be satisfied we have to start going from there to see what player will play next.”
Much of the teams work this summer has been on their own time.
“I can’t be here for a lot of what we do in summer," Sweeney said. "The seniors and returning starters have been the ones in charge of a lot of our summer work."
In the workouts, team members went through what Sweeney calls elite guard training.
Elite guard training includes a combination of ball handling, breaking down the defense, scoring at the rim, fundamentals around the rim and scoring. It also includes attacking the rim from the three-point line. It also included defensive agility work as well as shooting 100 game shots and 900 jump ropes daily.
“They did this on Monday, Wednesday and Friday throughout May and into June. On Thursday’s they would scrimmage,” Sweeney said.
Each day the players also did elite jump training, core lifting and speed quickness drills.
“I was very happy with the turn out this summer. The kids came out and worked hard to get better,” said Sweeney.
The Bulldogs went to team camps at John Brown University and Fort Gibson while the junior high attended camps in Nowata and Adair.
"The team camps really helped us," Sweeney said. "We always try to play more kids in the summer. Put kids in to give them a chance to show us what they can do and get some playing time with the varsity.
“We also use the summer as a measuring stick so that when football is over we already know who can play and not play. When the kids come in to start the season we pretty much know who those nine or 10 kids that will play the majority of the minutes are.”
The team also went twice to Gravette, Arkansas to play in a high school summer league there.
“We got to play several good teams over there in Gravette, Farmington, Siloam Springs and some other that are very good teams. These are teams we don’t normally see," Sweeney said. "Also when we went to the team camp at John Brown University, it gave us a chance to play teams from Arkansas and other places we don’t normally play. This helps us get better as a team."
Sweeney said giving younger students the chance to play with the varsity helps them improve to provide depth on the team.
“We always want to play the top eight, nine maybe ten players. Getting to give other kids a chance to play with the varsity in the summer helps us see combination on the court that we may not know will work. It helps us get closer to saying this is our top so many kids that will play for us. It is great experience. Some of those kids has been in junior varsity and they get in a varsity game and it is a little faster than what they are used to. The summer gives the chance for them to get some experience on a different level and us as coaches to see what we have and what they can do. Sometimes we go in and this kid has really improved and moved ahead of another that has been playing some,” said Sweeney.
Summer puts the team ahead when the season rolls around.
“When football is over you don’t have that long until you have games. When you get to work with them in the summer you have that measuring stick to see what you have to work with when the season starts,” says Sweeney.
Sweeney believes he has found some depth especially inside with sophomores Kobe Sixkiller and Seth Evans. Another sophomore that could provide depth inside for the Bulldogs but was out this summer with an ankle injury is sophomore Kaden Budder.
“This group of seniors has accomplished so much in their career," Sweeney said. "We have the potential to be something really special.
"But you can’t quit working hard. You have to keep getting better to reach those goals you set. I can’t wait for the season to get here."