New Dougherty High boys basketball coach Ty Randolph took over the Trojan program in April, and his players quickly bought into his defense-first philosophy, which helped them go 6-0 in the recent Valdosta State Team Camp. (Staff Photo: John Millikan)
ALBANY — Montrell Sisroe has seen his Dougherty High teammates battle on the court in his four years as a member of the Trojan basketball team.
But never like this.
Never with this kind of hustle or inspired determination and never with this much hope.
“We have come alive, and I have never seen my teammates play like this before,” Sisroe said.
Sisroe and the Trojans have found a new identity in the months since head coach Ty Randolph was hired to take over a program that bottomed out last year when longtime coach Donald Poole retired midseason and the team limped to a 3-16 record.
Randolph was named the coach in April, and the Trojans haven’t been the same since.
“These guys are looking for a situation where they can go and show that they are worthy to play this game and can be proud of their school,” Randolph said. “This is a basketball community. They have had it in the past and are waiting on it to show up again. It’s a great time to be a Dougherty Trojan.”
It’s still early in the summer and nearly six months before the 2014-15 season officially tips off, but the Trojans are already making progress under Randolph, a former Harlem Globetrotter and developmental coach in the NBA.
On Saturday, the Trojans defeated Bell (Fla.) High School in the championship game of the Valdosta State Team Camp, finishing the weekend tournament a perfect 6-0. Also over the summer, the Trojans have beaten Southwest Georgia schools Early County and Berrien in scrimmage games and continue camp play this weekend at Florida State.
David Quimby is one of three returning starters and said Randolph has made a difference in the team, which immediately bought into his defense-first style of coaching.
“We jumped on board and did it his way from the start,” Quimby said. “His way is better than how we had been doing it. He is leading us the right way. … We think we can be the team to beat in Albany this season.”
Randolph, who recently coached at the prep level at Groves High School in Garden City near Savannah before leaving to assist NBA standout Kwame Brown in 2009, has a simple motto for his players — “94 feet of pressure D.”
“Our up-tempo, pressure-style defense has been key,” Randolph said. “I don’t think we have been an excellent offensive team so far, but I believe defense creates offense. And that is what we are going to go on.
“This group has been really special. They have been a sponge since I’ve been hired. They are hungry and eager to learn and want to be successful. In coaching, that’s half the battle.”
Sisroe, a rising senior who will be a third-year starter next season, said the Trojans were ready for a fresh start.
“It’s been a big change. We didn’t really step out there and go to camps or anything with coach Poole,” said Sisroe, who believes Saturday’s camp title was the program’s first in at least four years. “With coach Poole, we never pressed on defense like we are now. We would always get beat on breaks, but now we are pressing the whole court.
“We knew (Randolph) would bring this mentality to the team. We are really excited to see where this can take us.”
The three returning starters — Sisroe, Quimby and Charles Porter — will be the foundation of next season’s team, and Randolph said each of them have already emerged as leaders this summer.
“We want to keep winning and are ready for this season to start,” Sisroe said. “Winning the tournament (Saturday) was big for us. It showed us what we can do.”