If practice makes perfect, then it's easy to explain why Atholton's boys basketball team looked less than perfect Friday night.
The team has had trouble getting 10 players out to practice this season. And the resulting lack of teamwork was clearly evident in its 71-59 loss to Sherwood.
"We're not executing," Raider Coach Jim Albert said. "At any given time, we have three players on the court who know what to do and two who don't."
After Friday night's loss in the opening round of the first Central Maryland Basketball Classic, held by Atholton, Albertdrew the line. In the future, he said, anyone who misses practice without an excuse is off the team.
A combination of injuries, flu and commitments to other activities, such as band or National Honor Society, have prevented the Raiders from having 10 players at practice. Sometimes, Albert says, he hasn't been notified that a player isn't coming to practice.
"We're lucky if we've had 10 players at practice five times this season," said Albert, who likes to run sophisticated offenses and defenses but has had to simplify things so far.
Besides those problems, one of Atholton's most talented players, David Morris, a transfer guard from Northern High, is not used to Albert's system. In fact, he's not used to being coached at all.
"At Northern, we just did our own thing," Morris said. "There wasn't much coaching. Coach Albert is a good coach, and I'm trying as hard as I can to learn things. I keep asking questions. But it takes time."
And time is something Atholton is quickly running out of if it hopes to field a competitive team for the league season, which begins Jan. 15.
"We have a nine-day spell with no games early in January, and I'm hoping we can get a lot accomplished then," Albert said.
Morris averaged 11 points at Northern last season and is scoring in the 16-point range this year, but he had only 11 Friday night.
"He's showed some bright spots but he's still learning the system," Albert said.
Another player who looked good Friday was forward Shane Flynn, who scored 15 points and pulled down a bundle of rebounds. Flynn was a backup to Jermaine Reynolds, Atholton's star player last year, so he's still getting used to starting.
"He still needs conditioning," Albertsaid.
One player who had on off night was Brian Van Deusen, who scored just six points. He's been averaging 17.
Sherwood, a small team, used its superior quickness and its ability to run up and down the floor to defeat Atholton. Most of Atholton's 19 turnovers were steals by Sherwood that resulted in layups.
Only some spells of undisciplined shooting by Sherwood and Atholton's rebounding ability kept the score somewhat respectable.
The Warriors bolted to an 11-0 lead, but Atholton closed to 14-11 at the end of the first quarter because Sherwood missed several three-point attempts. A foul shot by Morris made it 14-12 to start the second quarter, and that was as close asAtholton got.
Sherwood pulled away and was never really threatened.
Sitting on the bench and watching for Atholton was starting 6-foot-4 forward Brian Smith, who sprained his ankle in the first game of the season and has yet to return to action. The ankle was in a castuntil last week.
His absence has severely hurt Atholton's play. The Raiders have won just two of six games so far.
"We can't get much worse," Albert said. "I just hope we get better."