PEORIA, Ill. — With four of five starters back from a team that made it to state last season, expectations are high at Manual.
Funny thing is, Manual expects to take some lumps early in the season with a tough schedule that hopes to make the Rams worthy of a state trip again. The Rams don’t really care about long winning streaks at the start of the season.
Just the ones at the end.
“They don’t care about the (won-loss) record,” head coach Willie Coleman said of the basketball-crazy Peoria school.. “They care about where you are in march. We’ve been doing that for years.”
Coleman says his practices at Manual have a different feel this year. With all the veterans he has returning, he jokingly admits he’s not yelling as much.
“I’m hard on them but they understand me now,” Coleman said. “Stuff I told (them) last year, I shouldn’t be telling (players) this year!”
Manual finished fourth in class 3A last season.
“He’s not been yelling as much,” senior Andreas Bailey said. “He gets on us but not as much. I’m pretty sure we’ll be good this year.”
The Rams won their opener Wednesday night at the Kevin Brown Memorial Tournament of Champions. Rolando ‘Pee Wee’ Brown and Brian Tyler scores 19 points apiece in a 63-53 win over Springfield Lanphier.
Coleman is saving his voice and watching how his seniors coach up the Rams younger players who will be key to Manual’s success this winter.
“He’s working with the younger guys a lot,” said senior Storm Hangen. “And telling them to watch us as an example.”