Transition baskets are points that occur after an opponent’s missed bucket.
It appears Russell didn’t miss on its most recent hire. As a result, the transition has been seamless.
“I could not have asked for a better transition,” said first-year Red Devils coach Tom Barrick. “The Russell community has been so supportive, very welcoming to anything we’ve tried to add, anything we’ve been interested in.”
Barrick, 57, is an “old-school coach that tries to incorporate some new-age things, new-age philosophies,” in his words.
Barrick is an Ohio High School Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Famer. His Wheelersburg Pirates collected 339 wins over 19 seasons. Under his direction, The Burg notched three state semifinal appearances, including a state runner-up finish in 1995.
Barrick has also coached at Eastern, Harrison Hills and Morgan high schools in Ohio.
“He’s a great coach,” said Russell senior Tristan Miller. “He will get after you, but he’s a great coach.”
Practices under Barrick’s leadership have been “very tough,” Miller said, and defense-oriented. “Some of them have been grueling, really tough practices.”
Miller (14.7 points per game), Charlie Jachimczuk (13.4) and Brady Bell (10) all averaged double digits in scoring last year. Miller was one of the region’s perimeter shooters, draining 79 of 184 tries (42.9%).
“It will be very important to have guys step up early in the season to take some scoring load off of Tristan,” Barrick said. “If somebody steps up and is an offensive scorer for us, instead of drawing the No. 1 defender all the time, (Miller) may get a 2- or 3-defender, depending on what teams are trying to do.”
Jachimczuk, also the football team’s quarterback, assembled some fine performances at the point last season. Bell and Max Cantrell together averaged 9.8 rebounds a game.
Jared Goodman is back from a leg injury. Griffin Downs returns after emerging onto the scene as a freshman.
“The cupboard was not bare by any stretch of the imagination,” Barrick said. “I feel very fortunate to have those kids back.”
Charlie Bechtel, aka “Chuck,” is sidelined with a broken bone in his foot. He sustained the injury in early November.
“That’s a significant loss for us early in the year, and it’s up in the air as far as how long that’s going to be,” Barrick said. “He worked extremely hard in transforming his body, getting in better shape. Sometime this year, we’re going to get Chuck back.”
Barrick said the Red Devils have exhibited exemplary commitment to detail, particularly on defense.
“The improvement we’ve made in that area has been very significant,” Barrick said. “We’re trying to bring physicality to our defensive approach — man to man, extend the floor.”
Russell won three out of seven games against 63rd District opponents last season. Three of those four defeats were decided by four or fewer points.
“Those games are just wild,” Miller said. “They get your heart beating out of your chest.”
Barrick was already acquainted with 63rd District basketball as a spectator. Assistants Derek Cooksey and Rick Griffith have helped him learn more about the 16th Region. Cooksey joined Russell’s staff after leading Fairview’s boys for 10 years. Griffith has been at several area schools coaching girls and boys. He’s also a former University of Kentucky women’s assistant.
“I’m tickled to death to have those two guys on our staff,” Barrick said.