By Chris Teale (Photo/Chris Teale)
These are exciting times to be in and around the T.C. Williams boys basketball team.
Having begun the year 1-4 under new head coach Bryan Hill, the Titans have been on a roll and are now the proud owners of a six-game winning streak, including their latest victory Tuesday over rivals West Potomac High School by a margin of 64-52.
That streak also includes the notable scalps of Woodson and Lake Braddock high schools in conference play, the two finalists in the 2014 Virginia 6A North region, and the win over the Wolverines shows that Hill’s work since arriving from Ballou High School in Washington, D.C. has started to pay dividends.
His approach not only focuses on his players on the court but outside the gymnasium as well, and is something that the Titans have embraced.
“I [am impressed with] the kids buying into what it is that we’re teaching holistically, not just on the court but the off the court stuff,” Hill told reporters after the win over West Potomac. “How to eat right, how to get your rest, how to interact with teachers, how to deal with the extra attention that you get being an athlete. These things, some kids are pretty good at, others aren’t. You’ve got to coach those things.
“I coach the whole person. I don’t just coach basketball on the court. … All those good things that make good men out of young men are really what myself and my coaching staff stress.”
The game itself against West Potomac was a tough one for the hosts. The visitors kept it close in the first half, trailing only by three at halftime, and in spite of falling behind by as many as 14 points in the third quarter, they pulled it back in the fourth before the Titans pulled away again.
Hill believes his players showed the right attitude to win, especially in the second half as they pressed their advantage.
“It was a matter of us playing with a bit more energy and intelligence [in the second half],” he said. “We have a stretch ahead of us … that is very important to us. We’re trying to win as efficiently as possible with the least amount of effort, and that takes basketball IQ and intelligence to do it.
“We’re a work in progress, and we are attempting to improve in every game and myself and my coaching staff are trying to make every aspect of the game a teaching moment to raise their basketball IQs in order to play basketball efficiently and effectively as possible.”
Junior guard Andrew Hill led the Titans by 19 points, despite struggling early with foul trouble. He was supported well by fellow junior guard Tavaris James, who tallied 14 points and eight rebounds.
In spite of their soaring confidence and unbeaten start to 2015, the Titans have a number of tough tests ahead of them in conference play, with an intense stretch of games including a three-game road trip to West Potomac, South County and Annandale. However, Hill is confident his roster can stay focused on the task ahead.
“[We’ve got to keep] working hard and practicing every day, [we’re] talking to them about humility, work ethic, understanding that it’s important to focus on what the instructions they are receiving on the basketball court in practice and what type of things that I’m sharing with them in terms of how to behave off the court,” he said. “It’s just about being professional in a sense and doing what we’re supposed to do on the court and then disappearing off the radar during the school day, doing well in the classroom and coming into practice and putting the work in.”