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Woodland struggles after personnel, coaching changes
by Ericka Birdsong
ebirdsong@neighbornewspapers.com
January 02, 2013 09:33 AM | 1055 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Senior RJ Williams is one of only two returning starters from Woodland’s 2012 state playoff team.
Senior RJ Williams is one of only two returning starters from Woodland’s 2012 state playoff team.
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Thrust into the head coaching position after being an assistant coach for 11 years, John Howard leads a Woodland boys basketball team that’s forced to rebuild and review the fundamentals.

“We lost five of our top players and only return two starters. Then we had the change of personnel that everyone is trying to get used to,” Howard said.

While Howard said he wanted to become a head coach, he didn’t think it would happen so soon after Mike Tobin moved to the head coaching position at Cartersville this season. However, Howard said he is “happy and excited to be the head coach at Woodland.”

The Wildcats are rebuilding after a 2011-12 season that saw them advance to the Class AAAA state tournament after finishing with a 26-3 record.

Last week the team played in the Lake City Classic at Allatoona. In game one, Dec. 27, they lost 54-41 to Central Gwinnett.

“They played sluggish like they hadn’t played in three or four days. We missed lots of open layups and I think we were about eight of 25 from the free throw line,” Howard said.

Howard said the team got within seven points during the fourth quarter but they could never get past that mark.

Two big returning players for the Wildcats are seniors Greg Murphy and RJ Williams.

As a 6-foot-4 shooting guard, Murphy is currently the leading scorer on the team as he averages 18 points a night and scored 18 against Central Gwinnett. Murphy was the leading scorer last year as well.

Williams, standing 5-foot-10, recently returned to play as the team’s point guard after playing in a senior all-star football game. Williams was last year’s team MVP.

Eleven games into the season with a 4-7 record, Howard said his team struggles with its chemistry on the court because they did not play together for years like many previous Woodland teams. Howard also said he puts a lot of emphasis on shooting in practice in an effort to improve their percentages.

For this season, the Wildcats have not set any “end of year” goals, but they have set some everyday goals for themselves which include playing solid defense and keeping teams to 12 points a quarter.

“So far we’ve struggled to reach those goals but we’re still working on them,” said Howard.
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