Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Steve Smith- The Head Warrior

The Oak Hill (VA) Warriors are the definiton of a powerhouse. The team is always near the top of the rankings in whatever national poll you happen to look at. The school has produced numerous NCAA and NBA talents, including Carmelo Anthony (Syracuse, Denver Nuggets), Ty Lawson (North Carolina), Eric Devendorf (Syracuse), and Josh Smith (Atlanta Hawks). A big part of the Oak Hill program is head coach Steve Smith. Coach Smith spoke with me after his team's victory over Piscataway on Friday night.

NB: You guys had a pretty big win today. The first half they were really sticking with you guys. What did you do in the second half to really pull away and put the game away?
SS: Well, we tried to speed the game up a little bit. We went to a half-court trap, and I think they took some shots by some guys who don’t normally take them, and they took them a little quicker than usual. I . . . got us in transition. I think the third quarter was [about] 24-7, so we had a big quarter.

NB: Coming into the game, how were you guys able to look at the game like any of the rest of the games? You’re playing against a lot of powerhouses, [such as the game] tomorrow St. Patrick’s. This is not a weak team, but it’s a public school. What [did you do] to keep your players focused?
SS: Well, we wanted to have a good game . . . mainly for tomorrow night. I don’t like to be sloppy the night before a big game, so we emphasized playing well tonight, playing together on offense, sharing the ball, and getting after it on defense. For the most part, I thought we did that. Hopefully we’ll be ready to play against St. Pat’s tomorrow.

NB: What’s your outlook for the game tomorrow? What do you guys think you need to do to defend Dexter Strickland and a lot of those guys they got on that team?
SS: We’re going to have to stay in front of [Strickland] because he’s very good at driving and slashing the ball. We need to rebound with them because they play very physical and Quintrell Thomas is a great player too, so this is a tough match-up for us. We’re going to mix it up defensively and play some zone. We didn’t play much zone tonight, except when we half-court trapped. They’re too good to half-court trap, they’re too well coached. So, we’ll just mix it up and play some zone and some man, and hopefully Brandon Jennings will get his shots on offense.

NB: What are you guys looking to do the rest of the season?
SS: Hopefully win the rest of them. We got nine games left. . . . We got some good competition, some great games, and hopefully we can close it out in style.

NB: For next year, you guys are losing Brandon Jennings. . . . How’s that going to impact the team?
SS: It’ll have an impact on us, but six of our top seven are back. We’ve been starting two sophomores, two juniors, and the first two subs in have been juniors, but Danny Jennings we’ll lose, he’s a senior, and Brandon. . . . The rest of them are back, so we’re hopeful we’ll have a big team, a great year next year as well.

They didn't beat St. Patrick's, but they still may be able to win from here on out. Though the squad does have an un-Oak Hill-like four losses to date, they are still having an impressive year with a young squad. Steve Smith is a fantastic coach, and he'll keep his guys ready to play. There is no doubt in my mind that with Steve Smith at the helm, Oak Hill will remain a national powerhouse for years to come.

Note- photo is from

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