BELTON — Every year for the last decade plus, area basketball coaches have gathered to discuss the upcoming seasons.

Usually its a time for bemoaning their overall lack of size and experience, while some confident coaches express bravado of their returning talent.

It’s also a time when new coaches introduce themselves to the assembled coaching peers and media while others lament their alien rosters.

But Wednesday, more than a week before the start of preseason practices, they all started at the same place — Schoepf’s Old Time Barbecue at the District 8-4A/12-5A media day.

The lone coach missing was Shoemaker girls coach Shauna Showers, which was acknowledged with a quip from Grey Wolves boys coach Mark Minatrea who introduced himself with, “As you can tell, I’m not Shauna Showers.”


New coaching faces — Between the two districts, there were six first-year coaches at their respective schools, including new girls coaches at Belton and Copperas Cove in Brenda Gomez and Teresa Durham. Other new faces included Bryan boys coach Chris Jones, Stephenville boys coach Jon Normandy, Waco University boys coach Rodney Smith and Waco High girls Ross Barber.Big names gone — Although every year coaches talk at length about who they’ve lost to graduation, many had legitimate complaints this year as seven teams — including six from 12-5A — will be without key Division I-caliber players.

Among those who have moved onto bigger and better arenas including Killeen’s 6-foot-8 post Tashaun Thomas (Houston), Harker Heights 6-7 wing Royce O’Neale (Denver), Ellison’s duo of Devonte Brown (Indiana State) and Jaleel Williams (San Jose State), Belton’s Sean Voss (West Florida), Waco Midway’s Jay Hook (Tulane), and Bryan girls standout Amanda Lawson (Houston).

“I know who Alex Caruso and Jimmie Gilbert are this year. I didn’t know until too late last year that (Caruso) was the best player on the team. But, he explained it to me.” — second-year A&M Consolidated boys coach Rick German said about the differences between last season and this year.

“We’ve been searching the halls for anybody over 5-10 and we’re searching hard.” — Gomez on Belton’s lack of size.

“I don’t if we’ll win as many games as we did last year, but I’m pretty sure I won’t be at Scott & White (Hospital) as much as I was last year.” — Ellison boys coach Alberto Jones referring to health problems he experienced last year due to stress.

“I’m going to let everyone else do the talking for us because I’ve heard all the chatter.” — Harker Heights girls coach Shirretha Nelson on the talk about how talented her team is this season.

“I actually go to the gym fourth period to see what basketball’s suppose to be because this is the first year I’m going into where I have to actually show kids what a block was.” — Harker Heights boys coach Celneque Bobbitt joking about the Lady Knights’ “loaded” talent and his team’s inexperience.

“I also didn’t know I’d have to follow Tracy Morgan.” — Minatrea comparing Bobbitt to the former Saturday Night Live comedian and 30 Rock star.

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