Washington Times Herald
John Mokris is hoping that fans of the Pike Central boys basketball team won’t come away with too many impressions of the Chargers after Wednesday’s scrimmage against South Knox.
After a dozen years working in the North Daviess boys basketball program, Mokris is now the head coach at Pike Central. To date, he’s had eight practices with the team.
He knows that by the time Pike Central opens its regular season Nov. 30 at Barr-Reeve, his team will have a much better idea of the road Mokris would like his Chargers to travel.
But that will be then. It is likely not now.
“The kids that I have worked with have mostly been the younger kids,” Mokris said. “I’ve got four football players that I’ve had for maybe a week. Everybody is just starting to learn the system and a little bit of what I want.”
They are a great bunch of kids who really, really work,” Mokris said. “That was one of the first things I thought about when I considered applying for the job. From what I had seen, Pike Central always played and worked hard. Even when we’ve struggled, they have wanted to listen and to work hard. The first couple of days were a little rocky. Since then, they have done a nice job.”
Mokris does like the progress made by the team as they become more familiar with him just as he becomes more familiar with them.
“I think they’re getting better on the focus level, and we had an intersquad scrimmage. I felt good about what we were doing. They are getting better little by little.”
After less than 10 times to be together, Mokris admits not everything has been like a well-olied machine. There is a lot of learning to do from both ends.
At the same time, he is anticipating the time between Wednesday and the season-opener.
“It’s a little slow, and I expect it to be for right now,” Mokris said. “I’m trying to put in a couple of basic offenses for Wednesday, but I’m not trying to confuse them. After Wednesday, we’ve got 14 or 15 more practices before we play.”
Mokris believes not playing until Nov. 30 is a very good break for him and his team.
“A lot of teams have to play within a week after they scrimmage,” Mokris said. “We moved Jasper back in our schedule (the Wildcats have been the season-opener for Pike Central for several years but now the teams meet in January), so we have the rest of the month to get ready. There’s still going to be some rocky times, but we’re going to really break down our stuff and work some new things into the system. We’ll have some more time to get organized before we tip off,”
Mokris was hired after the summer season had ended for basketball. While he has had some time to get to know the players and people in the school system, he hasn’t had that much of an opportunity to work with the team.
He has started attended practices for teams in the elementary and junior high programs, getting the coaches and taking a look at the future at the school.
Three players return from last year. Shane Eck is a point guard, Dustin Meny and Trevor Claridge are all seniors.
Tyler Garland, who played part of last season, has met with Mokris and is in the plans. Nathan Simmons should also be in the plans as a seniors.
Mokris is also hoping to work some younger players, a few in the 6-3, 6-4 range into the plans.
“I have seniors with some varsity experience,” Mokris said. “We have some younger players that I think will also help us.”
Mokris is also counting on the experience of varsity assistant Steve Barrett who has several years of coaching and playing experience in baseball and basketball as a player at Washington Sectional champion Otwell in 1969 and as a head coach at Pike Central.
“Steve has a ton of experience and he’s going to be very helpful to me,” Mokris said. “He has been working with the offense and I’m counting on his experience during the season.”
The new coach is looking for better defense, and more patience on offense. He believes both are possible.
“We’ve already made some progress on offense,” Mokris said. “The kids are beginning to understand what I’m looking for. We’ll need to also improve our defensive average. Those are things that just take some time.”