This time of year I always think about Jimmy French.
Who, you ask?
Decades ago French was a very good, colorful, hustling guard for the legendary Nashville West High Blue Jays.
Back then coaches would call his type of player a gym rat, which is a compliment even though it doesn’t sound like it.
Anyway, he played at Vanderbilt and on one occasion this happened. French crossed the centerline and fired off and hit an 18-foot jump shot.
He turned toward the defensive end but reversed, intercepted the inbounds pass and scores again.
Then he slowly walked behind the man who is about to receive another inbounds pass and quickly jumped in front of him, intercepted and scored again.
Six points in maybe 12 seconds.
There are one or more players like this somewhere. If they are in Rutherford County, I’ll find them.
There’s also an Olivia Jones and Alexa Middleton out there and you don’t have to look for them. They’re at Riverdale.
This happened just a few months ago. An opposing guard arrived at her “spot” and fired off a jumper.
Jones blocked it but the ball fell straight down to the shooter who planted an elbow on Jones, went up and shot again.
Jones, perhaps a little annoyed with the elbow, turned and aggressively – and I do mean aggressively – blocked out the shooter. It paid off.
The shot hit the rim and came right back to Jones who was being fouled from behind by the shooter for a second time (remember the elbow).
The shooter, it seemed, also wanted the rebound.
Jones grabbed the ball and turned to throw it up the floor.
As she released the pass, the shooter hit Jones across her arm (third foul) but it has no effect because Jones was strong, mad and focused. The officials, who sometimes sleepwalk through plays while saving their energy for the boy’s game, called none of this.
Meanwhile, Middleton saw everything and, being very smart, realized a fast break was brewing and broke to the other end.
She caught the perfect pass from Jones and laid it in.
Jones was fouled three times but also got a rebound, a blocked shot and an assist, all on essentially the same play.
This is basketball teamwork and chemistry and hundreds of games are coming.
We will attempt to have scores from at least 40 teams and weekly schedules each Thursday for middle schools and each Sunday for high schools. Also we will often have scores and schedules for three elementary schools and the MTSU schedule.
I only have an idea of what type of high school basketball season we shall have but based on last year and on who returns to the court from last season and some transfers, it appears that it will be interesting.
The Central teams are getting better each year, the Eagleville girls are building, and the strength of the Eagleville boys is unknown until football is over. Both MTCS teams are always in a fight for a high district finish.
I think in AAA girls, state champion Riverdale is slightly favored to win the district, but Oakland and Blackman will severely test the Lady Warriors. I’m also told Smyrna is better.
In boys, Blackman and Siegel look to be 1 and 2 in some order with La Vergne definitely in the mix.
The district games in AAA don’t begin until Jan. 4 so we got about 45 days to assess the strength of each team.
As always, there are new players, there will be many surprises, and the teams you see this week will show a great deal of improvement before the new year.
So enjoy the rest of the football season and get ready for basketball: What a great time of year.