Picayune basketball looking for a leader during summer games

Published 7:00 am Friday, July 12, 2019

Heading to New Orleans on a weekly basis would have some guessing the Picayune varsity basketball team was going on some type of routine vacation.

However, that’s definitely not the case for Head Coach Eric Vianney and his squad, instead the team is taking part in summer league games in the city every week.

The young team is having to learn how to come together and play as a group.

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They lost starting point guard Marvun Arnold to graduation, so Vianney said the team is still trying to find the right person to take that responsibility.

“Who are we going to count on, who is going to get better and who is going to step up?” Vianney said.

“We’re trying to find the answers to those questions.”

Players like senior Kobe Jones have improved during the summer games, but Vianney is still searching for athletes wanting to compete every day.

That philosophy is why he has a unique approach when it comes to determining his starting five.

Many coaches will have a set line-up and won’t stray from it unless injury or some other circumstance arises.

Vianney on the other hand has a more fluid stance when it comes to deciding who will start.

The line-up can vary game to game, with Vianney saying that he only starts guys who are getting it done both on and off the court.

“We believe you have to handle your responsibilities off the floor, your classes and grades, and do the right thing,” Vianney said.

“You may start a game today, but if you don’t handle yourself, the next game I’m looking for somebody else.”

As the evaluation process continues, the coaching staff is using the summer league games to assess the young talent they have.

That player will need to be able to not only score points but effectively manage the game.

“This summer, to be honest, we struggled trying to find a point guard,” Vianney said.

“Another way to solve that problem is for everyone to improve their ball-handling and playmaking abilities.”

It’s still in the early stages and the season doesn’t start for months, but right now it looks like the squad will approach ball-handling duties by committee.

However, that doesn’t mean someone won’t step up by the time the season starts.

Vianney said the squad has to improve, and each player in the team has to have a drive to do so.

“Basketball is a skilled game, you just have to find some way to improve,” Vianney said.

“Lebron James is one of the best players in the world, and he still finds ways to improve.”

Vianney and his staff want their players to have the opportunity to play college ball, and that’s why there’s so much focus on progression.

“We try to make these guys believe in the opportunity to play at the next level,” Vianney said.

“We can’t relax, we have to continue to grind and believe.”