Starkville Academy boys basketball coach Mark Alexander has only had his team assembled for about a week and already likes what he sees.
The Volunteers took the East Webster Wolverines down to the wire in their first game of the summer league high school schedule Tuesday at the Starkville Sportsplex gym, only to drop a 33-31 decision.
Alexander, who was hired in April to replace Chris Lyle, has been pleased with the progress of his players in a short amount of time.
"It's a great bunch of guys," Alexander said. "They've got a high basketball I.Q. and has made my job a whole lot easier. They've really picked up on things very quickly and have been very respectful. We're only going to get better."
Starkville Academy has had some new players enroll in school, including Carnell Minor who practiced for the first time on Tuesday.
Alexander knows it's going to take some time for everyone to adjust to each other, but plans to take advantage of the summer to get that accomplished by playing several different combinations.
"That's kind of how we want to play," Alexander said. "We've got to get everyone on the same page, but I couldn't be happier right now."
Kyle Lomen, who will be one of the senior Volunteers next season, likes the way Alexander has the squad paying attention to detail.
"He's a very excellent coach," Lomen said. "Even with me being gone for a couple of days for work, I was able to come back and get right into it. Everything he's done is precise, down to the wire."
As far as SA's play on the court, Alexander said East Webster exposed some weaknesses that can be worked on.
Lomen noticed some specific things the Vols were having trouble with against the Wolverines.
"The thing we need to work on is blocking out, getting those easy rebounds and being able to knock down some easy shots," Lomen said.
Alexander said those things are correctable as long as the Vols continue to play with effort.
"We saw a lot of zone (against East Webster) which slowed us down and we didn't make a lot of shots," Alexander said. "If you watched the game, you see how hard we play and that's the number one thing. Execution will come as times goes on, but the things I'm looking for is for them to play hard and develop good team camaraderie."
(Editor's Note: This story is the first of the summer on high school basketball teams as it competes in the summer league at the Starkville Sportsplex. Thursday's story will profile the West Oktibbeha girls.)