Lake Norman & Mooresville

Young Huskies aim to work out kinks, improve

Junior guard Brandon Mobley and his Hough teammates have been hard at work for the last month trying to come together as a team.

"It's been a slow start," said Mobley, explaining that their work still isn't reflected on the scoreboard. "But we're still working. We're improving each week."

The Huskies, who have no seniors on the roster as a new program, come from six schools and have to get used to playing together. Their struggles also have a lot to do with their inexperience.

"They're just getting used to the pace of the game and everything involved in playing at a varsity level," said Hough head coach Justin Batts. "They're used to different things, so having these kids understand what's the expectation and what we're trying to accomplish has been the challenge."

Mobley said only a few players in the 12-man Hough roster have varsity experience at their former schools.

"Some of us played varsity - although we probably didn't get as much playtime - but we knew how it would be," said the former North Mecklenburg player. "But it's new to certain people, so we just have to keep improving as each game goes along."

The team's biggest struggles so far have been unforced turnovers as members get used to Batts' system and new personnel.

Junior forward Ty Decker, a Cannon transfer, can see why the Huskies are giving the ball away so often.

"It's hard because we've never played together," said Decker. "Knowing what other guys are going to do just takes time."

But Batts has already seen a lot of improvement for his Huskies.

"They are becoming a family," he said. "The comradery between the guys is good. That's all that I can really ask - as far as their development as a team."

Batts said the team will have to take care of the ball better.

"Those guys being young, they can get antsy when they have the basketball in their hands," he said. "That's something that will come with maturity."

The team defense could also use some improvement, although Batts admits they've improved since their first game and since the beginning of practice.

"I think that's a positive sign," he said. "The first game we were atrocious on our rebounding, but the last few games we've played we've done a much better job."

With the work they've put in practice showing in game situations, Batts sees the light at the end of the tunnel.

"If we can eliminate some of the mistakes that we're making, we can end up being successful," he said. "We're building in that direction."

The team has been led by its captains, Decker and junior center Johnny Piedmonte. Batts said they've stepped up to become leaders for a team that needs them.

"All of the juniors do a great job of leading by example, showing what's expected," he said.

Decker and Piedmonte have also contributed on the offensive end, along with freshman Jaqueaz Jackson.

Batts said Jackson has the potential to be a great player.

"He's got the ability to be a scoring threat and a defensive stopper," said Batts. "It's just a matter of getting him to be at the level he needs to be at."

Speedy sophomore point guard Drexler Clark should also contribute along with Mobley.

Batts hopes his Huskies are able to finish in the middle of the pack in the I-Meck Conference. He said he's glad for his team that the conference isn't as loaded as it has been in years past.

"If I had to pick a year to come into our conference, this would be the year to do it," said Batts.

Mobley said the Huskies' goal for the season is to have a winning record and to make a push to make the state playoffs as a first-year team.

"It's going to take a lot of time and effort from this team," he said.

Batts hopes going through this year's growing pains together will pay off for his team.

"We're trying to achieve great things here," he said. "I think we can do that with the guys that we have."

Batts and his team know that they will go through some up and downs this season, but that could pay off when the full team returns next season.

"We won't have to worry about the foundation, we can just build on top of that," he said. "I'm excited about that. We have the guys so that we can be pretty good."