Isaiah Anderson points out some of his teammates as practice begins in Ball Gym. The senior basketball player at Burris has been playing with them since grade school, and that familiarity is making his transition a lot easier.
Anderson averaged four points and three assists last season, and is moving to point guard this year after playing shooting guard in the 2011-12 campaign. He admits the move could be daunting for someone without the comfort level he has with his teammates. But in this case, he’s not worried.
“I’ve played with them so long, it’s easy to play with them, there’s a comfort level there,” Anderson said. “You know where they’re going to be, in their spots, and everything else.”
Defense is a staple of Anderson’s skill set, and the Owls will still use Anderson as an anchor for their perimeter defense. He’s also a bit bigger and stronger than most other point guards in the Mid-Eastern Conference, so Anderson said he doesn’t rely quite as much on speed and instead tries to use his size to his advantage.
Anderson has played point guard some in the past, but was primarily a shooting guard in previous seasons as Trevor Woodgett played point guard for Burris. Anderson said he prefers playing point guard instead of shooting guard because of the leadership aspects of the position.
Although he likes being the one to call out the plays and make key decisions on the court, Anderson said it was an adjustment to actually step into the role. Thanks to summer preparation and other work, he feels like he’s getting there.
“Starting off in the summer, it was a little bit of a change,” he said. “I’m a pretty vocal person, but what my coach wants to me do and how he wants me to play the point, I have to talk a lot. I have to put people in their spots on offense and communicate a lot on defense.”
The Owls also return Mack Rathbun, who averaged 19 points and 10 rebounds last season and is expected to be used both inside and outside in the Burris offense.
Burris went 16-8 last season, losing to Frankton in the championship game of the Class 2A Lapel Sectional. The Owls open this season with a Tuesday home game against South Adams.
Second-year coach Greg Hitchens said he expects it might take some time for his team to fully integrate this season. Rathbun and Anderson are two of the more prominent returning players, but most of the rest of last season’s key contributors graduated. Hitchens lists seven seniors on this year’s roster, but some have little or no varsity experience.
“I definitely like the senior leadership,” Hitchens said. “But it’s going to take us some time to jell, five, 10 games to really get things moving.”