The Big Spring Steers don’t play horrible defense. In some cases, they’re far from it.
But to first-year head coach Cliff Thompson, they can never be too good on the defensive side of the ball.
That’s one focus — among many — for the Steers as their third home game this season approaches. Thompson said the focus is starting to shift toward what the Steers have to do to get ready for District 5-3A play in January and at the top of his list is defense.
“We play great defense at times, but we just have to get going,” Thompson said. “Our goal is to try to keep them under 40 points a game. I think that’s 10 points a quarter. I think that’s a realistic goal. We haven’t gotten there for a couple games. That’s just my focus. You can never play good enough defense.”
The Steers have actually held an opponent under 40 points five times this season. They did it against Midland Christian twice — once at 31 and another at 21. They held Fort Stockton to 35 points, Midland Classical to 33 and Monahans to 35.
It’s not something Thompson is fretting over right now, but he knows the Steers are going to have to win some games with defense eventually.
Rebounding is something Thompson wants to focus on as well.
In Wednesday’s practice, the Steers put a blockade over the basket in order to practice rebounding the ball. He said not being able to get boards has led to a few losses.
“We’ve got to get a little bit better at that,” Thompson said. “There’s been a couple of games — Abilene Cooper and San Angelo Central both kind of outrebounded us a lot. Those were games we lost. I think that was the deciding factor. They got too many second chance points.”
So far, though, it’s been a little bit of everything that’s gotten Big Spring through at 9-5, especially the likes of Tristian Clay and Luke Adams.
Thompson is counting down the days until district play begins, too. What is about a month away seems like it’s around the corner for the first-year coach.
After Merkel at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Steer Gym, Thompson noted the Steers have the Fredricksburg tournament and games against Lubbock Cooper, Levelland and Andrews left before they open district on the road against Brownwood.
What Thompson is pleased about is how much his players have been exposed to before that point in the season. He said the Steers have seen an array of defenses — the triangle-and-two and box-and-one to name a few. Adams and Clay are getting double teamed, too, so it’s vital that players like Devante Lloyd, Mike Menefield and Marc Segundo continue to score.
“Our focus is to improve every game and keeping eyes on district, not so much our win-loss record,” Thompson said. “It’s about learning something from every game and improving. We’re not that far away, we only have one tournament and three games before we start district. It’s time we start thinking about it.”