By Nick Snow
STILLWATER, Okla. —
It’s hard for Stillwater High School boys basketball coach Michael Davis to contain his excitement about the season.
That’s what happens when you have a plethora of young talent with one goal on its mind — a state playoff berth.
“I don’t know who’s more excited, me or the guys,” Davis said. “Brett Budke came up to me and said, ‘Coach D, I haven’t been able to sleep yet,’ and I said, ‘Brett, we’re two nights away yet.’ Obviously they’re pretty excited about it. It’s a chance for them to play for something that counts.”
Most coaches would be concerned with the lack of sleep from one of his key players, but not Davis. He knows the leadership of guys like senior Rico Thompson will help ease whatever jitters those younger players have heading into Thursday’s game against Tulsa NOAH in the opener of the Stillwater Festival.
“It helps a lot,” Davis said. “Obviously you want to have something coming back versus nothing coming back. It helps ease these new guys into the transition of playing. Even though Brett Budke didn’t get to play because he tore his knee up, he was like a coach because he got to see the game from a different point of view. The same can be said for guys like Jared Dickey, who played JV last year.”
Stillwater may have plenty of experience, but there are also some fresh faces for the Pioneers this season.
Freshman Jordan Brown brings the big body that is somewhat uncharacteristic of Davis’ teams. After watching Brown scrimmage against the likes of Jenks and Tulsa Union, Davis said he sees a lot of promise in the budding star.
“He’s a big kid for a freshman,” Davis said. “The biggest challenge I have is reminding myself that he is still a freshman. He’s going to make mistakes, but we think he’s going to get a lot of playing time for us.”
After what seems like a lifetime since the Pioneers last stepped on the court, Davis said they can finally start to feel the energy pulsing through the Pioneer Fieldhouse.
But with such a young squad, Davis does occasionally have to remind his players not to focus on getting to state. Instead, he just wants them to get better each game.
“We have a new deal where we don’t worry so much about getting to state,” Davis said. “We want to be the best in the state and it all starts with one game at a time.”