ROCKINGHAM — Richmond Senior boys basketball coaches David Laton and Donald Pettigrew were worried about the team’s ability to score points this year.
With the loss of leading scorers Shydamion Ellerbe, Jordan Richardson and Josh Calhoun from last season’s 19-9 team, Pettigrew leaned on Laton to return to an offense he ran at West Forsyth.
“He told me they had some problems scoring during the summer,” Laton said. ‘We talked about it and he’s always wanted me to run it here. I think it’s the best way to play with this team.”
The new style of play will be a departure from what Richmond has done under Laton, who has had relied on inside players like Will Freeman, Ellerbe and Richardson in previous seasons.
“We have to really, really play fast,” Laton said. “This is not going to be a walk it up and post-up team. We will try to take as many shots as possible. We want to average 80 shots a game, 20 shots a quarter.”
Laton said the offense will be similar to what Paul Westhead ran at Loyola Marymount.
“I have always been big on teaching fundamentals and being in condition,” Laton said. “We will have to be in condition to play like this. I believe this is the best way for us to play and have success. It’s a lot of fun to play, but it’s going to be hard work.”
Defensively the Raiders will try to force the opposition to play at the same high-speed pace. Laton says his team will “press, gamble and get more shots than the opponent.”
“It’s a lot of fun to coach,” Laton said. “You have to be a little crazy to do this, but it’s a good crazy. It’s not something you can change in the middle of a game or season. You have to commit to it.”
Richmond finished second in the Southeastern Conference behind Hoke County with a 7-3 SEC mark. The Raiders lost four times to the Bucks last season, twice in conference play, once in the league tournament and again in the second round of the state 4A playoffs.
Laton feels the SEC title will be up for grabs with no clear-cut favorite.
“Everybody lost their best player…everybody,” Laton said. “It’s wide open in my opinion. There are a couple of new coaches, but I don’t know too much about them. It’s going to be a wide-open league. All I can do is coach my guys.”
Richmond will open its season 7:30 p.m. Tuesday against Cheraw (S.C.) at Raider Gymnasium.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @scgolfer.