It is year two for Robert E. Lee boys basketball under head coach Jeff Coleman.
The Red Raiders went to the playoffs in year one, but were stopped in the first round. REL is still in search of its first playoff win since 2007.
Coleman believes the future is bright for REL and is anxious to see how things unfold.
"I saw so much promise last season," said Coleman, who won a state championship as a coach in Oklahoma and led Kilgore to the regional semifinals the year before he came to Lee.
"I think I have a chance to now to turn what I thought was promising into promise. This is what we're hoping for. We are hoping to get into the gym and bring our basketball team to the understanding that we have to play for the team, and not the individual. The team has to be first."
Lee returns just two starters from last year's playoff team with seniors Isjuwan Barker and Zach Hall expected to play big roles for the Red Raiders. Most of the team's offense graduated, but Coleman believes that is not necessarily a bad thing as he has more team-oriented guys that will all contribute to the final score.
"As the season progresses, our offensive (go-to guy) will present himself," Coleman said. "That is just going to happen. And whoever takes that lead, we want consistency out of him. We are not going to point at one young man and (put the scoring load on his shoulders)."
Along with Hall (6-0, Guard) and Barker (6-1, Wing) are seniors Treston Cross (6-1, Wing), La'Marquail Fuller (5-10, Wing), Patrick Pulliam (6-1, Wing), Zack Carder (6-3, Post) and Zach Dunn (6-5, Post). Lee will also turn to juniors Isaiah Davidson (5-11, Wing), Mike Donnell (5-11, Guard), Keashun Davis (6-3, Wing), Tobias High (6-3, Post) and Bryce Harden (6-3, Post).
"We have a good core of juniors to go with our seniors that we expect to come in and give us a lot of minutes," Coleman said.
Coleman is also looking for big things from sophomores Andrew Sherrel (5-9, Wing) and Chance Amie (6-3, Post).
The Red Raiders open the 2015-16 season on the road Friday at Lufkin. Coleman said his penciled in starting lineup for that opener is Davison and Donnell, Cross, Walker and Barker. Coleman believes Hall right now is his sixth man.
Lee then goes to John Tyler on Tuesday before a game against Center in the Burger King Classic at Whitehouse on Friday, Nov. 27.
"Those first two aren't going to be easy," Coleman said.
The Red Raiders play their home opener on Tuesday, Dec. 1 against Jacksonville.
Coleman stresses defense, in particular man-to-man, and he wants his team to be ready to take care of business on both ends of the floor.
"This year is where we get to the point where the program is slowing becoming a Jeff Coleman program. That means we are going to start doing more and more of what I want done," Coleman continued. "Specifically on defense; our focus is to become a much better defensive team. I want my kids to understand that if we want to get up and down the floor, we have to become a better defensive team.
"When we are not running the basketball down the floor, then we run our offense and have to learn to be patient and execute our offense."
Lee heads to the Metroplex in late December for the Lakeview Centennial Holiday Shootout where the Red Raiders will face Mesquite, Frisco Centennial and Colleyville Heritage. All of this is to get REL prepared to begin District 11-6A play on Jan. 2 at Garland Lakeview Centennial.
"I think we are making the right steps in the right direction to become the type of basketball team that I want," Coleman said. "If our kids do what I am telling us to do, I think we have a really good chance of being a really good basketball team."
Robert E. Lee Boys Basketball 2015-16 Schedule
Nov. 20 @ Lufkin 7 p.m.
Nov. 24 @ John Tyler 6 p.m.
Nov. 27 #Center 5:30 p.m.
Dec. 1 Jacksonville 7:15 p.m.
Dec. 10-13 Forney Tournament TBA
Dec. 15 Whitehouse 7:15 p.m.
Dec. 18 @ Longview 7:15 p.m.
Dec. 28 $Frisco Centennial 5 p.m.
Dec. 29 $Mesquite 5 p.m.
Dec. 30 $Colleyville Heritage 5 p.m.
Jan. 2 @ Lakeview Centennial* 7:15 p.m.
Jan. 5 Garland* 7:15 p.m.
Jan. 8 @ North Garland* 7:15 p.m.
Jan. 12 Rockwall* 7:15 p.m.
Jan. 15 @ Naaman Forest* 7:15 p.m.
Jan. 19 @ Sachse* 7:15 p.m.
Jan. 22 Rowlett* 7:15 p.m.
Jan. 26 Lakeview Centennial* 7:15 p.m.
Jan. 29 @ Garland* 7:15 p.m.
Feb. 2 North Garland* 7:15 p.m.
Feb. 5 @Rockwall* 7:15 p.m.
Feb. 9 Naaman Forest* 7:15 p.m.
Feb. 12 Sachse* 7:15 p.m.
Feb. 16 @Rowlett* 7:15 p.m.
# - Burger King Classic at Whitehouse's Wildcat Arena
$ - Lakeview Centennial Holiday Shootout
* - District 11-6A game