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January 25, 2013

Willingness to change with new coach working for Mott boys hoops team

By Jason Carmel Davis
C & G Sports Writer

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The Warren Mott boys basketball team is eyeing its first division title in three seasons. Pictured is Marauder senior guard Blake Jackson.

WARREN — Warren Mott senior forward Keith Phillips said he and his teammates appreciate it that first-year Marauders coach Jeff Olind pushes the players to give their all each time out on the court.

“He wants us to give 100 percent,” said Phillips, who was averaging 17.0 points and 12.0 rebounds per game at press time for Mott. “It’s really easy for us to like him when he’s doing his best to help make us a better team.”

That effort, coupled with a solid roster on which every player is at least 6 foot 1, had led the Marauders to a mark of 8-1, 4-0 Macomb Area Conference White Division at press time. Mott is on its way to besting a 13-9 mark from a season ago, when it finished 6-6 in the MAC Blue.

“There’s not a lot of teams in the area that can come out with a lineup of three, four or five guys who are at least 6-5,” Olind said.

An emphasis on getting out and running on offense, and playing smothering defense has led to the Marauders’ strong start, according to Olind, who served as an assistant coach at Auburn Hills Avondale the past two years.

At press time, Mott’s 64.7 points per game ranked fourth in the 36-team MAC. The 51.3 points per game allowed by the Marauders is good for 14th.

Olind said there was a bit of a tough transition at the start, but players quickly bought in to his style of coaching.

“They’ve really bought in to how we wanna play,” Olind said. “It’s a fun style of play that lets them run and push the ball, and they really like it.”

Olind said having a wealth of height doesn’t hamper his system. He said each of his players — even the tallest ones — are athletic. The first-year Mott coach added that height, naturally, helps the Marauders’ halfcourt offense, making it easier for “over-the-top” post entry passes.

The solid play of Phillips and senior point guard Blake Jackson have the Marauders in line to compete for a MAC White title, which would be the program’s first since the 2009-10 season.

Jackson made the transition to point guard after playing two guard the past three years. Olind said Jackson is doing a solid job quarterbacking the team.

“It’s a different feeling playing the point, but I want to do whatever I can to help us win,” said Jackson, who played quarterback for Mott’s football team. “I just try to be smart with the ball and take whatever the (opposing) defense gives us.”

Olind said he hopes his team’s strong play is sustained over the course of the season. He likes that his team is off to a fast start, but understands that Mott must improve if it wants league titles and playoff success.

“If we stay focused, continue to improve our communication on the court and play as a team, we will be right there in the chase for the MAC White championship and Warren Mott’s first-ever district championship,” Olind said.

Mott’s next matchup is against Utica Stevenson and is set for 7 p.m. Jan. 31 at Mott.

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Jason Carmel Davis at jdavis@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1107. Twitter Follow Jason on Twitter.