The Pulaski County Cougars’ boys basketball team will look to pick up where they left off last season under second year head coach, Tyler Cannoy.
Last season was the first season coaching PCHS for Cannoy, one in which he felt that the team ended the year strongly, finishing in the top five of the River Ridge District, and finishing with a winning record at home.
“I thought we finished strongly, beating Blacksburg and Christiansburg at home, and Salem, I thought it was a strong way to end the season,” said Cannoy.
Last season, the Cougars finished with a 10-14 record overall, with 6-3 record at home, a 2-9 away record, and a 2-2 record at neutral sites.
On the coaching staff is Gerald Johnson who has been with Cannoy previously. The strength and conditioning coach is Ryan Sullivan.
Rajai Heinz will be coming in as the junior varsity coach after being with the middle school the previous season.
Cannoy says the team will be returning a lot of their lineup from the previous season.
Players that are returning this season include junior Joshua Bourne, who started all last year and played at both the point guard and power forward positions. In the previous season, Josh averaged 25 minutes, six points, three rebounds and three assists per game.
Cannoy said Josh will be one of the leaders of the team this season.
Another junior that’s returning at the wing position is J.J. Gulley, who Cannoy said had a great finish to last season. Gulley averaged 18 minutes, eight points and four rebounds per game.
Cannoy said Gulley shot the ball relatively well last year, shooting at 55 percent from the field, and is currently seeking to improve even more.
A senior that’s returning to the team this year is A.J. McCloud. During the last season, McCloud was the second leading scorer, averaging around 11.5 points, 24 minutes, five rebounds, and three assists a game.
Players that are coming in from the junior varsity team include Peyton McDaniel, who led the junior varsity team in scoring with 15 points per game last season.
Caleb Underwood will also be moving up to varsity at forward. Cannoy says Underwood does all the little things, such as taking charges. According to Cannoy, Underwood is the team’s best defender and communicator.
Lastly, another player, Jerze Johnson will be coming in as a transfer from Radford.
When asked about what the upcoming season will look like, Cannoy said that while he wasn’t 100 percent certain, he said their goal is to focus on what they can control.
“Our main focus here is to control what we can control and do the best to our ability. We’ve been working hard since the middle of June. We’ve been working around the guidelines, and I think that helped us work on our individual skill development, which I think was exceptional. These guys have worked so hard, and we’ll try to take the next step for our program. They’ve been doing everything we’ve been asking of them,” said Cannoy.
The team has also been working through the guidelines that have been set due to COVID, but Cannoy says the team has been limited in some ways.
According to Cannoy, they’ve been getting players in the weight room, and players have been able to practice on their own goal with their own basketball. So far, it’s been only individual development.
Also, the team hasn’t been able to practice defense, nor have they been able to have contact drills. When the players start practices, Cannoy wants them to start getting acclimated back to contact.
“We’ve been doing the best we can, just like everyone else is, with what we’re allowed to do during this time,” stated Cannoy.
When asked about goals for the upcoming season, Cannoy said he wanted the team to improve on everything, but specifically he wanted to perfect their individual skills. This includes being able to shoot the ball more consistently, being able to handle the ball better and expanding their offensive game overall.
Cannoy also said he wants to continue playing the same level of defense, which he said was good last year.
The Cougars will begin their season on December 21st at Blacksburg at 7 p.m.
By LUCAS GOAD, The Patriot