Portales boys basketball coach Mark Gallegos prepares his team prior to practice Wednesday afternoon. The Rams begin their season, Dec.11.
The 2007-2008 Portales Ram basketball team is young, but it’s got plenty of time on the practice court before the opener.
Knowing that he had several Portales football players coming over to play basketball, Ram head basketball coach Mark Gallegos didn’t schedule the Rams first game until Dec. 11, a home date against Roswell.
“I didn’t schedule until Dec. 11 because I really believed we would be in the (football) state championship game,” Gallegos said.
Last year, the Rams were severely short-staffed in their opener against Roswell for that reason. Portales finished 16-10 and lost in the Class 3A regional tournament.
Since the Rams were knocked out in the state quarterfinals this year, that scheduling decision gives the young Ram basketball team more time to prepare — and Gallegos said the team will need it.
“The nice part is that we get to have some practice time and hopefully that practice time will give us some time to answer a lot of questions. There’s a lot of question marks.”
Gallegos’ number one question mark?
“The biggest thing is our defensive intensity,” Gallegos said. “I’m not real happy with where we’re at defensively but in the same respect we’ve got to put everybody together and (defense) has always been our trademark and whether that’s playing man defense or zone or two-defense, that’s what’s kept me awake at night for the last 10 years and it will always keep me awake.”
Gallegos said the aim is to hold opponents to 45 points, but figures that will be difficult with a lineup of mostly guards playing an uptempo game.
Portales features five seniors: Ky Mitchell, Jacob Brady, Josh Kelsey, Sammy Martinez and Chris Mosier.
Mitchell, Martinez and Mosier were the only seniors who logged significant varsity time last year, and combined for less than 10 points a night.
Gallegos figures younger players will help in filling the roles from five player graduations.
“One of the kids that’s going to have to step up in a big role is sophomore Marcus Slocum. He’s been here since Day 1 of practice. He’s a very athletic kid. He’s more than capable, I expect him to really surprise some people. He’s about 6’2, he’s real lanky, he can play inside-outside and he’s really going to have to take on a leadership role even though he’s a sophomore.”
Gallegos said he is waiting on a eligibility ruling on 5’7” junior guard Nick Bliss, who recently transferred from Lubbock Monterrey.
“Once he learns the system, he’s as quick as anybody we’ve got,” Gallegos said.
“(We’re) looking forward to winning,” Mitchell said. “We’re real young this year, and hopefully have some big players step up like Sean Carrasco and some of the younger guys.”
Mitchell and Mosier are shaping up to be just two of the Rams’ team leaders on the floor this season.
“Those are the two kids that played a lot last year on the varsity, saw a lot of varsity minutes and those are the two kids we’re going to kind of have to lean on,” Gallegos said.
“I yell a lot,” Mitchell said. “So I guess (my role is) motivator.”
“(Our strength is) shooting,” Mitchell said. “We’ve got a lot of shooters, and we’re going to be a lot quicker than we have been.”