When Michael Basnett is on the soccer field, he tries to do everything as fast as he can.As the fastest player on Hough’s soccer team, according to head coach David Smith, the Huskies’ senior forward uses his speed at all times.“I’ve always been a fast player, so I want to keep myself and the ball moving quickly and use that to my advantage as much as possible; I even try to win all our wind sprints in practice,” said Basnett.“Speed can be very dangerous, and I think it scares a lot of people. So we try to keep teams on the run as much as we can. We don’t think they can keep up with us.”While Basnett’s speed puts a lot of pressure on his opponents, he got some help when Davidson Day transfer and his Carolina Rapids’ U18 teammate C.J. Bradley decided to come to Hough, adding even more speed to the lineup.Basnett and Bradley, both all-state forwards with a combined 52 goals last season, already have 22 scores through 11 games.While some players would have been worried about another top player coming into their team at the same position, Basnett (24 goals, eight assists last year) welcomed Bradley (28 goals last year for Davidson Day).“Michael was happy to have C.J. come in because he knew it would make our team better,” Smith said. “They have worked well together from the start and made each other even better.”Basnett has been on top of his game, with 10 goals and 10 assists through his first 11 games, showing a playmaking ability that he didn’t even showcase last year, when he was the I-Meck 4A conference player of the year, and an all-region and all-state pick by the N.C. Soccer Coaches Association.Basnett has had some big games of late, with a goal and an assist in a key MECKA 4A conference win over Mallard Creek, and two goals and three assists in another league victory over A.L. Brown, which only had one loss coming into the match.“Most people would point to his speed, and he is very fast,” Smith said. “But the biggest thing about Michael is his work rate. No one is going to outwork him, on or off the ball. Whether he is making a run or chasing a defender, he is doing all the little things that make a complete player. He doesn’t back down from anyone; he believes he can go toe-to-toe with any defender.”While Basnett has had remarkable seasons, his start with Hough was a slow one.Basnett – who was born and lived in Cape Town, South Africa, for the first five years of his life – didn’t make the varsity his sophomore year, instead playing on Hough’s junior varsity squad. But he proved himself early and was called up to varsity. There, he made an impact by scoring five goals in limited play.While he got some valuable experience in games, Basnett also got to practice with former Hough standouts (now both UNC Wilmington players) Nathaniel Goodwin, the Huskies’ all-time leading scorer, and Santiago Patino.“Michael really learned a lot about work ethic and preparation from Nathaniel and Santiago,” Smith said. “If you do all that work in practice and on your own, the games are a lot easier.”Basnett has also benefited from Hough assistant coach Mike Kutcher, a former N.C. State standout. “(Coach) Kutcher helps me a lot, especially in games when I can’t find a gap in the defense,” Basnett said. “It seems like he always has a different way for me to approach a defense, or how and where I need to make a run. I feel I almost always end scoring a goal or getting an assist when he gives me advice.”Basnett says he has a “game-by-game focus” this season and hopes that will translate into helping him not only break the school-record for goals – 24, which he tied Goodwin for last season – but also equal that number in assists.“I definitely want to break the school record for goals in a season,” said Basnett, who hopes to earn all-conference, all-region and all-state honors again. “But I think it would also be cool to have as many assists as goals. I’ve realized that soccer is not all about scoring goals. It can be just as fun to set someone up for a score.”Basnett’s overall ability has gotten him some college soccer looks from UNC Greensboro, Elon and Wingate.While Basnett says college soccer is a big goal, he is largely focused on finishing strong at Hough with a third straight conference title, as well as going further in the playoffs.Hough (8-4, 5-0) has won eight of their last nine games, and it is looking to get in top form as the stretch run of the regular season is upon them.“We’ve really set a high standard for Hough soccer in a short time,” Basnett said. “As a senior, you definitely want go out on top and have the best season we’ve had. Right now, all I care about is winning.”
Monday, Sep. 30, 2013
Hough soccer’s Basnett uses speed to net wins
Jay Edwards is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Jay? Email him at email@example.com .
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