New Sterling Heights High boys hoops coach leaving a stamp on the program

By: Jason Carmel Davis | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published January 15, 2014

STERLING HEIGHTS — Under former coach Mike Griffin, the Sterling Heights High boys ran a “five out” offense that saw each player set up outside of the paint in an attack that lent itself to several perimeter shots and long rebounds.

Under first-year coach Ryan Kay, the Stallions will run a number of offensive sets designed to keep opposing defenses from getting too comfortable.

“Under coach Griffin, they ran a lot of dribble drive offense, similar to what Oakland University runs,” said Kay, who comes to Sterling Heights High after having coached Warren Mott’s JV team. “We’re going to run a lot of different things to keep our opponents on their toes. I think the team is disciplined enough to do that and succeed.”

Kay, whose team sat at 2-2 overall, 0-0 Macomb Area Conference Gold Division, at press time, said the Stallions will utilize elements of the Princeton offense, which is predicated on moving without the ball and cutting. Kay also said he would take some things out of Michigan State University coach Tom Izzo’s playbook, among other things.

At press time, Sterling Heights High averaged 53.8 points per game and was allowing 53.0 points per contest.

Kay, who took over in October, believes he has the personnel to thrive on offense. Senior guard Mark Berishaj, in his second year as a varsity player, is a versatile wing who leads the Stallions in scoring early. Berishaj also led Sterling Heights in scoring last season.

Junior Jalen Dixon will also play a large role for the team, Kay said, which will also see the team look to get out and run.

Kay said he wants to create those run-out opportunities off of the team’s defense. He said he wants Sterling Heights to force turnovers that, he hopes, lead to easy scoring chances.

“I’m surprised. The transition has gone a lot smoother than I would have thought,” Kay said. “We lost our first game by three points and just had a bad night our second game. We’re on a two-game winning streak right now.

“Our players have definitely bought into what we’re trying to do. Over the Christmas break, we had the chance to work in some new things. It’s good to see a group of kids who are so dedicated to the game.”

Kay said he hopes the team continues to improve as it gets into league play. Mount Clemens has won the Gold the past four years. He said The Bathers and New Haven should be the favorites and added that Warren Woods Tower, St. Clair High and Clawson would be tough, as well.

“We’re going to have our hands full,” Kay said. “Hopefully, we come to play every night. If we do that, we’ll have a shot.”

Sterling Heights’ next game is a matchup against Mount Clemens, set for 7 p.m. Jan. 16 at Mount Clemens.