John Tyler's latest addition to the coaching staff, one of the school's very own, plans to guard the school's tradition.
First-year head coach and JT graduate Cedeno Clark hopes to do it with a guard-heavy lineup starting the year short on varsity experience for the 2012-13 season. JT enters the new campaign with a 72-21 record the previous three years.
Another number three jumps at the Lions, as in the number of varsity returnees on the roster to start the season off: Jordan Caldwell (6-0 junior point guard), Keaunte Humber (6-3, junior guard) and Javante Tramble (6-3 senior post).
The rest of the varsity consists of seniors Hennessey Lampkin (6-1 wing), Vernon Thomas (5-10 guard) and William Vaughn (6-2 wing), junior Brian Moore (6-4 post), sophomore J-Michael Jasper (6-3 post) and highly-touted freshman Jacob Owens-Bush (6-1).
The Lions look to turn a potential weakness into a strength.
"We're guard-laden and don't have a lot of bigs," first-year JT coach Cedeno Clark said. "We want a transition game of course. Primarily we want to press, trap and throw a lot of defenses at the opponent."
JT finished 24-8 last year, undergoing a late season coaching change. Clark assumed the acting coach duties for the final four games, helping the Lions win district and bi-district titles.
The Lions lost to Ennis in the area round. With the chance to add players possible later in the fall, Clark concentrated on getting the current group to round into shape first.
"It's still a roller coaster, up and down," Clark said after the Lions concluded the scrimmage portion of the schedule. "We're playing with only three kids with varsity experience. It's going to be rough early."
Dating back to last spring, Clark placed an emphasis on establishing structure in the basketball program.
"Our motto for the year is to be disciplined – and that's doing what you're supposed to when you're supposed to and doing it that way every time," Clark said. "If the kids uphold that, the parents or coaching staff won't have to worry about them."
Clark played at JT for Carl Love, who won 400 games in a 17-year career in a system that thrived in the halfcourt and mixing defense. Clark coached the past four years for a JT program that turned back into one of the state's elite, spending time in the state polls the previous seasons, including a short stint in 2009 in Class 5A, and the previous two in 4A.
JT has won 20 games or more in 16 of the past 20 seasons going back to the 1991-92 season, Clark's senior year with the Lions basketball program.
"What I want to do is take something from all those guys I worked under and implement that and add my own twists," Clarks aid. "I want to put out a good produced for not only John Tyler but city of Tyler."
John Tyler Lions
Head coach: Cedeno Clark
2011-12 record: 24-8
Last playoff appearance: 2012
Returning starters: 0
What's new: Head coach Cedeno Clark steps down to the end of the bench after helping solidify the sub-varsity programs. Clark coached the JV to a 14-0 district record last year, and also won a district title on the freshman level with the current group of senors.
Offensive outlook: JT, which averaged 60 points per game last year, wants to beat teams down the floor for easy buckets to negate a lack of size. The Lions personnel lends itself to an up-tempo style, with several ball-handlers on the team, many of whom are interchangeable. JT needed close to two months to hit its stride over the last years, which featured 51 wins, and the current team seems to need time to get rolling.
Defensive outlook: JT wants to pick up teams further downcourt. Clark installed a variety of presses, traps and defensive sets to throw at opponents. JT allowed 54 points per game last year.
Team strengths: JT's athleticism and grit gives the Lions the ability to control the game's pace, overcame a size-disadvantage on the boards, and get to the foul line frequently.
2012-13 Lions Schedule
Nov. 19-Playoff Preview-TBA
Nov. 20-FM Marcus-7:30
Nov. 27-Robert E. Lee#-7:30
Nov. 29-at Rosa's Tourn.-TBA
Dec. 4-at Lakeview Centennial-7:30
Dec. 7-at DeSoto-7:30
Dec. 14-at Terrell-7:30
Dec. 17-at Longview-7:30
Dec. 21-at Lewisville-7:30
Dec. 27-Wagstaff Tourn#-7:30
Jan. 4-at Dallas Madison-7:30
Jan. 11-at Nacogdoches*-7:30
Jan. 18-at Corsicana*-7:30
Jan. 22-at Jacksonville*-7:30
Feb. 1-at Whitehouse*-7:30
Feb. 8at Lindale*-7:30
#-Tyler Junior College
*—District 16-4A games