Heiar Impressed by Indians’ Latest Preseason Effort
By Dustin Kent
The Chipola Indians had another solid showing in a series of preseason scrimmages Saturday in Macon, Ga.
Chipola swept its two previous scrimmage sessions in Marianna and Dallas and the Indians did the same Saturday, sweeping four games against Albany Tech, Brunswick, Santa Fe and Cape Fear.
Indians coach Greg Heiar said that he saw marked improvement from his team’s performance in Dallas to its effort in Georgia.
“I would definitely say that, from Dallas to Macon, it was a high-level jump in execution,” Heiar said. “I think it just comes from more practice time and more understanding of the system. We’re just learning.”
Heiar also said that his players are starting to believe in one another, which shows in the team’s crisp execution on both ends of the court.
“I think there’s more trust now,” he said. “They’re starting to feel more trust with each other, which is what we need.
“It’s good to see us start to play a little better as a team. We’ve got to understand that we’re all from same place trying to do the same thing.”
Chipola broke up into two teams for its first two games against Albany Tech and Brunswick, then got together at full strength for the games against Santa Fe and Cape Fear, the last of which Heiar said was particularly impressive.
“We played extremely well against Cape Fear,” the coach said. “We were defensive rebounding, starting our transition break and we did a great job of contesting shots and passes that led to easy shots on the other end.
“I was really pleased with how we played against Cape Fear. They’re a good team, well-coached and they have good players. I think as the day went on, we got much better.”
Heiar said that the early season scrimmages, which conclude Friday in Montgomery, Ala., with the last scrimmage of the preseason against Faulkner and Auburn University in Montgomery, have given him a good indication of where his team is at headed into the regular season.
“Sometimes that takes longer than other times, but for myself, these three weekends of scrimmages have given me a good understanding of this team’s strengths and weaknesses,” the coach said. “It’s taken longer with previous teams to figure it out, but through film work and watching game footage, I have a real good feel for this team.”
And what does that feel tell him?
“I think we’re making progress every week,” Heiar said. “Every week, they understand what we’re trying to do more and more. I believe that knowledge and understanding is confidence and we now have greater knowledge and understanding, therefore we’re playing more confident.”
The Indians play Faulkner Friday at 1 p.m., before finishing against AUM at 3:30 p.m.
“Both teams are well-coached and they challenge us every year,” Heiar said. “They really do a great job of screening and they’ve been playing together longer than we have.
“They have maybe a little better feel for each other than we do, but obviously we’re more talented, so that’s our advantage.”
Among the most-talented Indians is preseason All-American shooting guard Casey Mitchell, who Heiar praised for his performance in Macon.
However, the coach said that it was the play of freshmen point guards Malcolm Armstead and Darius Stowers that really made the difference.
“Our point guard play is probably the biggest reason this team has improved,” Heiar said. “When we’re at our best, the guards are making good decisions and those guys are getting better each week.
“Chipola basketball is about point guard play and Darius and Malcolm’s improvement from the beginning of practice has been incredible.”Chipola opens the regular season Oct. 31 against Mineral Area in Poplar Bluffs, Mo.