Whether it’s applying baseline to baseline pressure akin to former University of Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson’s “40 minutes of Hell” or a more strategic trap and hassle approach, the Malibu High boys’ basketball team plans to turn the index way up on opposing offenses this season.
First-year Sharks’ head coach Richard Harris said he wants high defensive intensity from the Sharks.
“I don’t want the other team to be comfortable on the court,” he said. “We definitely want to play with some intensity on defense.”
Harris, who coached at AGBU High School in Pasadena from 2011 until last season, inherits a Malibu hoops team that returns several players, but lost five players to graduation or transfer, including the top scorer and three-point specialist.
The Sharks went 8-20 last season, including a 1-9 record in the Tri-Valley League. Harris expects the squad, who will play in the Frontier League this season, to be a better team.
“I’m really excited about this season, and I really think we can surprise some people,” he said. “I really think this can be a strong year.”
Through preseason play in the summer league, fall league and practice, the Sharks have grown, said Harris, who is also an assistant men’s basketball coach at Pierce College in Woodland Hills.
Harris said the preseason has been a bonding experience for him and the team.
“We had to learn to mesh together,” he said. “It was a good experience. We got a chance to play some teams that were bigger than us. We competed well. We earned respect in some areas that typically Malibu wouldn’t get respect in.”
During the preseason, the Sharks hit the court against teams such as Moorpark, Heritage Christian and Royal. Each of these teams had a lot more size and height than the Sharks.
“We competed with all of them,” Harris said. “All of them were close games. It just says a lot about our team this year.”
Although he hasn’t settled on a starting five yet, Harris has pinpointed Sharks he expects to be leaders on the hardwood and the stat book.
Six-foot-two frontcourt player Dane Marshall, a junior, is one of them. Harris said Marshall has an aggressive style.
“He is really smart,” he said. “He plays really hard and he rebounds well; and he plays really well with his teammates.”
Cordell Newton, a 6-foot junior guard, who averaged close to double figures last season, is expected to make an impact on the wing.
“In the fall league he was a major scorer for us,” he said “He is another guy that has just been really aggressive, and he seems more confident and comfortable.”
Brothers Cade, a 5-foot-10-inch sophomore, and Hunter McMillin, a 6-foot senior, are expected by Harris to contribute as guards.
“They are disciplined, they are leaders,” said Harris. “They do all the small things on the court that help keep the team together.”
Five-foot-nine guard Jordan Newt, a transfer from Westlake High, is also expected to be a factor.
When the Sharks begin league play in the Frontier League this fall, the competition is expected to be less rough and tumble than the Tri-Valley League, but that didn’t stop Harris from putting some bigger schools and squads on Malibu’s early season schedule.
The Sharks open the season on Nov. 24 in home game against Rancho Mirage, after which they play against teams such as St. Genevieve and Buckley in the Buckley Winter Kickoff Classic Tournament Dec. 1-3. Malibu also has a matchup against Campbell Hall in the Vikings’ gym on Dec. 8.
Harris said the Sharks have a difficult schedule.
“I set it up so we can be challenged,” he said. “So, when we get into league we can be prepared to compete.”
The first-year Sharks’ coach said confidence and progression will be key this year.
“I would really like to see this team progress from where it was last year,” said Harris. “Progress from where it was in the summer and progress from where it was in the fall. Progression is probably my main goal.”