New Albany coach Jim Shannon is just two wins shy of 250 victories in his 14 years with the Bulldogs, but he didn’t even know it.
“Each season’s like a new beginning,” he said. “It really is — because every season prior to it ends in a loss unless you win the whole thing. The last taste you have in your mouth is a loss and you want to get that taste out of your mouth.”
“I’m always energized with a new season,” he said. “When I quit feeling that, I won’t do it anymore.”
Shannon should build plenty to that win total with four solid seniors returning from last year’s 14-8 team, and a surprise addition.
The Bulldogs lost top scorer A.J. Schmidt, who now plays for McKendree University.
Everyone else is returning, led by Anthony Edwards, who missed the last six games with a dislocated ankle.
Edwards is joined by Leondre McBirth, Jermaine Parrish and Garrett Arnold.
“Just about all our minutes are back and that’s good,” Shannon said. “We have high expectations for these kids because they got a lot of experience last year.”
Shannon said the Bulldogs should be competitive in a tough Hoosier Hills Conference. “We expect more out of them than we got last year,” he said. “And so far in practice — and I know it’s early — we’ve seen a definite improvement, really in all facets of the game.
“We’re not near where we want to be, but nobody ever is,” he said.
Shannon said he’s noticed a marked improvement in effort and intensity. “They’re just more mature now,” he said.
Shannon got a pleasant surprise when Josh Rogers, a pitcher on the Bulldogs’ baseball team who has signed with the University of Louisville, came to him and said he wanted to come out for basketball.
“He’s really good,” Shannon said of Rogers. “He will play. He said he just really missed basketball.
“He’s a good shooter, a good passer and he really understands the game,” Shannon said of Rogers.
Shannon said the last two seasons — with 16-8 and 14-8 records — have been good ones.
“We’ll strive to improve each and every day,” Shannon said. “If we do that, the wins and losses will take care of themselves.”
Shannon said expectations got a little out of hand when they went 89-5 from 2006-10.
“We had several Division I athletes,” he said. “We just showed up and beat people. It’s not like that now.
“Every team we play has the opportunity to beat us and we know that. But we feel we have the ability to beat any one of our opponents. We’ve just got to come ready to play every single night. … We’ll set the bar as high as the kids will let us.”