“A championship. That’s what we’re here for.”
It’s as simple as that for first-year head coach Adam Chrisco when describing the goal for the Owensboro Thoroughbreds.
The journey begins Friday in the season opener for the Thoroughbreds, a second-year minor league basketball team competing in The Basketball League. They host the Tampa Bay Bay Titans at 7 p.m. at the Sportscenter.
For the Thoroughbreds, a talented group of players was whittled down to the final 11-man roster during a week-long training camp, and Chrisco said he’s totally confident in the abilities of his guys.
“I had few tough cuts to make to cut it down to my final roster,” he said. “I still feel like we’re over talented. I don’t think we have any weaknesses in the roster. We’re fast, we’re very lean, and we’re athletic. I expect them to get up and down the floor, put up a lot of points, entertain people and stay competitive with their quickness and tenacity.”
Chrisco served as an assistant coach in the inaugural season, and he decided to take a different approach when he took the reins. From off-the-court attitude to in-game style, Chrisco said there are plenty of changes.
“I think the culture has to change a little bit with the athletes themselves,” he said. “On the floor, I wanted some more size this year so I built that in. I needed a little be more veteran leadership, so I got some guys on my roster and got them trained up so they understand my system.”
One veteran is point guard Dominic Phillips, who’s has been part of the Washington Wizards organization and is currently in the NBA G League pool. After sitting at home for two months, Phillips decided to try out for the Thoroughbreds, and he’s looking forward to getting back on the court.
“It’s very exciting,” he said. “This process here is what we all dream for and work hard to achieve.”
By taking on several guys who have been around for a few years, Chrisco said the team has had to put some extra focus on conditioning to make sure they can compete with younger rosters.
“I have veteran guys and some of them are a little older,” he said. “I’ve got to get them conditioned to run with 21-year-old guys that Tampa is bringing in. For me, condition is so important at this level. It’s really an endurance sport.”
An all-new roster means opponents won’t know much about the Thoroughbreds, and power forward Sam Sykes said that gives them a chance to strike first. Even though they’ve never played together, he said there shouldn’t be any learning curve.
“Knowing this league is seeing us as the underdogs, we have a chance to come out and show what we are capable of,” he said. “It’s a good group of guys. Everybody has a high-level IQ. When we get between these lines, things should click right away.”
Phillips echoed those thoughts, saying the team has a chance to make a big splash.
“Owensboro is one of the teams people aren’t expecting. We’ve put together a team that’s going to come out and make some noise throughout this league.”
The only player without experience at this level is small forward Quincy Scates, but Chrisco still had high praises. He said Scates embodies the type of atmosphere the Thoroughbreds are trying to promote.
“He has an extreme amount of ability,” Chrisco said. “He’s athletic, he shoots it well, he’s defends, he’s got a great attitude. That really wraps it all up for us — attitude.”
From top to bottom, Chrisco is excited for what each player brings and thinks it will be tough to stop the up tempo play.
“Just when you think you’ve got us beat, one of our guys comes off the bench that you’ve never heard of and scores 30 or 35 points,” he said. “I’m almost giddy at what the prospects are. This year, I can call whatever play I want. We have a lot of secrets we’re going to unleash during the game. You’re going to see another version of up-and-down basketball.”
|1||Dominic Phillips||PG||5’11”||180||West Virginia State|
|2||Demarcus Robinson||PG||5’10”||170||Alabama State|
|3||Cordaryl Ballard||SG||6’4”||200||South Carolina Aiken|
|4||Corey Wilford||SG||6’2”||185||Southeast Missouri State|
|5||Anthony Jones, Jr.||SF||6’4”||200||Southeast Missouri State|
|6||Odgra Bobo||SF||6’6”||210||Oakland Community College|
|7||Quincy Scates||SF||6’5”||235||Tennessee Wesleyan|
|11||Sam Sykes||PF||6’10”||215||William Penn|