Dobson boys basketball at early crossroads
The Dobson boys basketball team has now dropped two straight games after Thursday’s ugly 57-40 loss to Mesa.
During one stretch against the Jackrabbits, the Mustangs scored only eight points in 13 minutes, 25 seconds of action – a pretty remarkable statistic considering the team’s top two players, Kodi Justice and Jaron Hopkins, are both committed to Pac-12 schools.
After watching the lack of cohesion, it’s hard not to harken back to Basha’s team from a year ago. Hopkins, Torren Jones and Maurice Kirby were the Division I-bound focal points on that team, and while the Bears started off 21-3, they lost four of their last five games and didn’t win a sectional tournament or playoff game.
Hopkins transferred to Dobson in the offseason, as did Perry standout Ryan Richardson, which gave the Mustangs a formidable trio alongside Justice. However, the ills which affected Basha’s underperforming group last year have manifested at Dobson.
Hopkins, Justice and Richardson have the talent to get easy shots the majority of the time in the half court, but none had the patience to do so against the Jackrabbits. Dobson coach Rick McConnell was understandably miffed with the team’s poor execution.
“We’ve got to learn in situations to trust ourselves and trust each other,” he said. “Throw an extra pass, take good shots. We get this hero complex where we think we can make every shot falling away.”
Dobson is 7-3 overall and seems to be at a crossroads. With Hopkins’ ability to get in the paint complemented by the shooting ability of Justice and Richardson, the Mustangs have the formula to score points effectively. There was a stretch in the second half against Mesa in which Dobson calmed down and showed its potential, cutting a 22-point deficit to five. But once the Jackrabbits scored a couple buckets, the Mustangs went back to individual play and ill-advised shots.
“With games like this, if it doesn’t become a real obvious thing to them, I don’t know when it will,” McConnell said.
Maybe it’s a good thing adversity is hitting early, because McConnell’s wisdom may not fall on deaf ears any longer. Despite all the talent, the Mustangs have been soundly beaten by contenders Corona del Sol and Mesa.
If Dobson continues playing like this, it seems destined to underachieve. But with a couple months still left in the regular season, these wrinkles can still be ironed out.
“I really think our guys want to (succeed), and maybe this will help them understand that these little things are huge,” McConnell said. “They’re not little things. They’re the most important things to becoming a good player and a good basketball team. It could really help us in the long run.”