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Monday, July 6, 2009

Daily Record article on Coach Slaughter

Very good article by Mike Plant in this past Sunday's Daily Record about new Rider hoops coach Sly Slaughter.

Here's the link to the article, and in case the link goes dead, here's the actual text, along with some highlighted items and comments in parenthesis by yours truly.

Orrville's Got a Winner in Slaughter
"A few thoughts from the week in sports, with Mike Plant substituting for the vacationing Aaron Dorksen, whose column will return next week ...

Lou Holtz, when asked back in late 1978 if he was interested in the Ohio State football position, said it best.

"I don't want to be the guy who replaces Woody Hayes," Holtz said. "I want to be the guy who replaces the guy who replaces Woody Hayes."

The eventual pick as Woody's successor, Earle Bruce, found out soon enough that 8-3 records -- even if it included a winning record against Michigan -- wasn't enough to keep the Columbus crowd happy.

Locally, Donald Short was in the same situation at Orrville High when he took over for Steve Smith.

Smitty, of course, was a legend both on and off the court. And, despite a 103-51 (Me: 7-7 in postseason) record in seven seasons, his replacement, if you'll pardon the pun, was bound to come up short (Me: I disagree that it was a no win situation for Mr. Short, but it certainly was a difficult task).

Orrville stayed in-house when it selected Sly Slaughter, Short's top assistant, to take over the program. The other finalists were Doug Hanzie and Rocky Smith. As much as I admire Hanzie -- someone will be getting a great coach when they hire him -- and as much as I think Rocky will someday prove that he shares more with his Dad than a name and a drawl, I think Orrville made a great choice.

Instead of distancing himself from Orrville's storied past, Slaughter has embraced it. And, as the starting point guard on the first of the late Smith's three state title teams, it's a smart move, as was hiring Rocky and former OHS assistant Ken Landis as his top assistants.

"Rocky's the fiery guy, like Smitty, I'm more laid back and Ken is right in the middle," Slaughter said. "We're all pretty much on the same page on how things should be."

That includes a return to tight man-to-man defense, one of the hallmarks of Steve Smith's teams.

"No offense to Donald, but he was primarily a zone guy, it's what he learned," Slaughter said. "You play what you know, and I've always been a 'man' guy. I played for Coach Smith, of course Rocky did, and Ken coached -- that's what we know."

Having been an assistant in both basketball and football, Slaughter has already built a rapport with his team. He also has the built-in pride of a former Red Rider.

"It's nice to be doing it at the same place where I played, and it's nice to have Rocky involved. Not only because of his dad and what he meant to me, but I know how much Rocky wants to see the program succeed. For us to be doing this together is real exciting," Slaughter said.

"I haven't been making major changes -- the kids knew when I got the job that we'd be playing man defense, up-tempo on offense, and that we'd be concentrating on the fundamentals of basketball. We've been trying to correct some of the things they've been getting away with. (Me: This was interestingly worded...not that they weren't being taught fundamentals but they were allowed to get away with bad habits. Very telling.) That's how Ken, Rocky and I are -- a lot of fundamental stuff," he added.

"But the biggest thing is that I will make sure the guys I put on the floor make the community proud with how hard they play and how hard they work." (Me: Not that it wasn't being done before...but it's nice to hear it will be a point of emphasis...a little Rider Pride will go a long way with the town.)

Orrville hasn't had much tournament success recently, one of the reasons the heat was put on Short. Next season, the Riders will add some spark to the already combustible Wooster Div. III Sectional/District, where they'll join Triway, Smithville and most of the other teams from Wayne County.

Orrville fans, of course, will expect to win the district. (Me: Who us? When have we ever had high expectations? LOL.) That comes with the territory, as Slaughter knows all too well.

But, like everything else, he accepts those high expectations. And, with guard Jake Bolyard and post Zach Wasson leading a team as talented and athletic as any OHS has had recently, it wouldn't surprise me one bit if Slaughter meets those expectations and starts making his own mark as a head coach right from the very beginning.

I, personally, just could not be happier with the hire of Coach Slaughter. Very excited for this coming season.

We discussed this a few months ago, but here's a link to the Riders 2009-10 schedule. We only had 6 non-league games to try and schedule up, but it seems we're on the right track to better preparing ourselves for post season play. I think the combination of new coach, new schedule and new district is going to produce some very positive results for the team this season.

Good luck to Coach Slaughter, his staff and the program.


Anonymous said...

It is awesome as an Orrville plan to know that Coach Slaughter wants us proud of the basketball players he puts on the court.

It is sad that it can't be the same with his assistants. One in particular keeps getting in trouble and I saw his name in the paper again last weekend. When will somebody hold him accountable?!

Good luck Sly! You were a great hire, and we are wishing you and the boys that best!

Red Rider Sports Blog (Tim Snyder) said...

Keeps getting in trouble? This was the first I read his name in the paper as a matter of public record.

I'm sure if there are repeat incidents, the school will do what is necessary....and I'm sure the coach in question knows that as well as anyone.

Anonymous said...

Congrats to coach Sly I think he will do a great job, he and his staff will get things changed around and heading in the right direction. As for Rocky, I would think he better keep his nose clean if he wants to keep coaching, I am sure the administration is watching.