Franklin ready to put his stamp on team
And despite the fact that he begins his second season at the helm of the storied program, Doug Franklin may feel like this is his first season on the sidelines.
Franklin was thrust into the position last season when longtime coach and athletic director Jeff Lieberman abruptly resigned in a feud with the school board.
Franklin took over a team with high expectations (ranked No. 2 in pre-season), that realistically did not have the same talent level as past Bulldog teams.
"No I don't feel that way at all," Franklin said while preparing his team for the upcoming season. "I think this year's team will be more a reflection of the changes I began making in the basketball program last year. But, I think that is to be expected.
"Last year was a time of transition and change, we had a lot of seniors, and they had been taught a style of play very different from what I was teaching and that led to a huge learning curve for everyone. With most change comes struggles. We had plenty of challenges last year and will have plenty to deal with this year."
There was no Austin Falke or Brandon Irwin to dish off too when the going got tough.
Along the way, their 51-game district winning streak fell by the wayside at the hand of Milano.
After a shocking loss to winless Thrall in the last game of the season, the Bulldogs had to fight to get in the playoffs with a playoff for third place with Granger and were knocked out in the second round by Spruger, denying them a fourth straight state tournament appearance.
After going 36-1 and 28-2 in the championships years, the Bulldogs finished 16-16.
Franklin starts 2009 with a perfectly clean plate with no leftovers.
"I'm excited about the upcoming season," he said. "We should have a better defensive club this year. We spent last season implementing the change from a 2-3 zone to an aggressive man to man system.
"Any time a program changes defenses like that there are a lot of hurdles to overcome. There are still things we need to improve on defensively but the expectation is that this group of guys will be an outstanding defensive team and our kids have bought into the concept that their success this season depends on how well they can defend their opponent."
Thorndale returns just one senior of last season's squad, Weston Fisher. He is joined by juniors Josh Ware, Paxton Jordan and Issac Leyendecker.
All are listed at either 5-foot-10 or 5-foot-11.
Newcomers include Chance Ging, Matt Schneider, Steven McKendrick, Antonio Castillo and Trey Bransom.
Franklin also welcomes a part of the Bulldog past in 6-foot-2 sophomore Dillon Irwin, younger brother of former Class A player of the year Brandon Irwin.
He will join 5-foot-11 junior Landon Falke, younger brother of another Thorndale Class A player of the year Austin Falke.
Perhaps the Falke-Irwin connec tion can work its magic again.
"Most of the athletes in our basketball program are football and baseball players also," Franklin said, "so, there isn't a basketball offseason. I just think it will take time for some of the changes to fully take hold and we made important steps last season in beginning that process.
"In my opinion that makes last year a really important moment in the history of our program. In a marathon the first steps are as important as the last. We have a long way to get to where we want to be, but that process began last season."
DAWG BITES—Mumford (29- 5 last season) is the clear favorite in the Region IV area and ranked N0. 2 in the state in pre-season. Coach Chris Sodek's running and gunning squad returns four of five starters including the best point guard in the state in Eric Corona (23 ppg, 7 ast, 6 reb, 6 stls). Bremond (17) and Normangee (20) are also ranked out of Mumford's district. Cayuga is the top-ranked team... Bartlett (23-9) is a safe bet to defend its district crown... Brandon Irwin begins his second season at Howard Payne after being named the American South Conference's newcomer of the year last season... Austin Falke begins his junior year at Stephen F. Austin after briefly transferring to Howard Payne last year. He has played in every game this season.
Coach—Doug Franklin, 2nd year
2009 record—16-16, 2nd round
District rercord—4-6, 3rd
Key losses—Cody Schneider, Clay
Schneider, Blake Doughty.
Key returnees—Weston Fisher 5-10
Sr., Josh Ware 5-10 Jr., Paxton
Jordan 5-10, Jr., Landon Falke 5-11
Jr., Isaac Leyendecker 5-11 Jr.
Top newcomers—Chance Ging,
Steve McKendrick, Matt Schneider,
Dillon Irwin, Antonio Castillo, Trey
Last playoff appearance—2009
Last district championship—2008
|1 Josh Ware||5-10||Jr|
|4 Steven McKendrick||5-10||So|
|5 Isaac Leyendecker||5-10||Jr|
|10 Matt Schneider||5-10||Jr|
|12 Chance Ging||5-10||Sr|
|23 Paxton Jordan||5-10||Jr|
|24 Dillon Irwin||6-2||So|
|31 Landon Falke||5-11||Jr|
|32 Weston Fisher||5-11||Jr|
|45 Antonio Castillo||5-11||Sr|
|55 Trey Bransom||5-11||Sr|