From left to right: 2009 Chase Kocher, 2009 Kyle Martin, 2009 David Rodriguez, and 2010 Jake Kocher
Head Coach Mackey Smith in his 5th year, returns a sneaky good crew to St. Michael's. Not too many people know about the Crusaders, as private school basketball is historically underappreciated in the State of Texas.
However, Austin Private's have produced D-1 players the most recent being St. Stephen's Matt Zaney (UT-Pan American) and Xavier Silas (signed with Colorado, now with Northern Illinois) and St. Michael's F Mark Sheppard (signed with Texas Tech, now with Baylor). I was in the gym for a classic matchup 6 seasons ago when St. Michael's strapped it on with the area's most talented team in the Killeen Ellison Eagles and came out the victors in a high scoring affair. That Ellison team's backcourt went on to have highly productive college careers. Ellison's "Zach and Zo Show" respectively ended up starting at Arkansas-Little Rock, and Rice University.
But...back to the present. Head Coach Smith was good enough to catch up with me on the phone last night and to sing the praises of his crew, and to promote Private School basketball. He proudly pointed out that last year his Crusaders went into Pflugerville Connally's house and came away with a win. They also beat a pretty good Hutto squad twice, once a 30 point thrashing. This year sees another challenging schedule including an apparent grudge agains the whole town of Pflugerville..lol They play Hendrickson, have a return date with Connally and then participate in the always tough Pflugerville HS Christmas Tournament.
What impressed me last night was the discipline shown by the players, even though it was pretty much a "pick up" situation in their Hoop Zone Fall League Game. This indicates a very well coached team. These kids ran more productive sets than many teams do during the regular season. Look for their relative lack of height to be a reason to run a lot of motion as well as "4 and 5 out". Apparently they have a couple of bigger bodies in football and once they join the team, Coach will run some double post sets as well.
The biggest guy on the team, 2009 6'6" Kyle Martin apparently likes his St. Michael's maroon colors. He'll save a lot on his wardrobe next year as he has already committed to play baseball for like colored Texas A&M Aggies.
I love the St. Michael's backcourt. 2009 5'11"" David Rodriguez can really shoot the rock and is a very solid ball handler. He improved dramatically and built his confidence on the summer circuit this year with the Texas D-1 Ambassadors.
The other two thirds of the three guard lineup will be the Kocher Boys. Chase, a 5'8" senior is a crafty ballhandler, playmaker and shooter. Jake, a 6'0" sophomore could turn out to be the best of the bunch as he is a fearless DEEP three point shooter, a competent ballhandler as a soph and as stated in an earlier post, just has a KNACK for scoring. Look for him to have a future in college basketball if he dedicates himself to improving his footspeed and strength.