Written by SportsDayDFW.com
DeSoto puts emphasis on defense, using it as the backbone of its UIL state game plan
DESOTO — The offensive star for a balanced DeSoto boys basketball team on a given night could be anyone.
But for the Eagles’ suffocating man-to-man defense to work properly, it takes a buy-in from everyone.
Holding opponents to 44.3 points per game (42.8 in the playoffs) is a big reason the Eagles are in the state tournament for the fourth time in 12 years.
The Eagles (31-3) will face Galena Park North Shore (33-3) in a Class 5A semifinal set for 3 p.m. Friday at the Erwin Center in Austin. The winner advances to Saturday’s 8:30 p.m. final against the Converse Judson-Allen victor.
DeSoto is 3-0 in state semifinals, going on to win titles in 2003 and 2009 and falling two points short in the 2005 championship game.
Signs in the Eagles’ locker room stress defense. Chris Dyer, the head coach of 16 seasons who has overseen DeSoto’s climb from cellar-dweller to prominence, ordered game jerseys with “Defense’’ where a player’s name would be.
The coach estimates defense occupies 65 percent of the Eagles’ practice time.
“Every year we talk about playing more zone,” said Dyer, “but you wind up doing what you know best, and for us that is man-to-man.”
His players get the message.
“Coach D demands defense,” said 6-3 senior forward Julian Green.
“Defense triggers our offense,” said 6-6 senior post Terry Maston, a Baylor signee and one of only two Eagles with a basketball scholarship secured (6-7 post Devin Wyatt, headed to Loyola Marymount, is the other).
Maston, nephew of highly pedigreed basketball players Tony and Derrick Battie, recalled in a regional tournament game last weekend a winded opponent complained about the exertion required to get open.
“He asked me how we are able to play so hard,” said Maston.
When Dyer came to DeSoto in 1998 after stints as an assistant at Kimball and head coach at South Oak Cliff, he inherited a program without a winning tradition.
“It took us five years to turn the corner,” said Dyer, who earned the first of his four state championship rings as a head coach at SOC in 1992. “Had I known how bad it was, I probably wouldn’t have taken the job.”
The 2003 championship team was unique for being the exception in Dyer’s defense-first formula. “That team was small, and we had to score to win. We put up 94 points in the championship game.”
Remarkable consistency within the coaching staff has been a DeSoto staple. Assistants George Golden and Kory McIver have been with Dyer for 15 years. Even volunteer scorekeeper James Beal, father of former DeSoto star Jermaine Beal, is a veteran of eight seasons.
The 2012-2013 DeSoto team with McDonald’s All-American Matt Jones (now a freshman at Duke) spent most of the season near the top of the state rankings but was eliminated in the third round of the playoffs.
“This year’s team is more together,” said Maston. “Matt was a hard worker, but we just didn’t get it done last season. Nobody is in the spotlight this year. The other team can’t focus on one player.”
That isn’t to say an Eagle can’t get hot. At the Region I tournament in Fort Worth last weekend, senior guard Takedrick Brown connected on seven 3-pointers and scored 41 points in two games.
“We just have to play our game,” said Maston after watching video of North Shore. “They like to play fast. We need to slow it down, get the ball inside and play defense.”
Ah, defense. That word again.
CLASS 5A SEMIFINAL
Galena Park North Shore vs. DeSoto
GALENA PARK NORTH SHORE
District: 21-5A (first). Record: 33-3
Coach: David Green Jr.
State titles: 0
Previous appearances (last): 2 (1997)
Playoff victories: 77-43 over Pasadena Rayburn, 71-43 over Fort Bend Elkins, 71-64 over Manvel, 75-52 over Houston Cypress Lakes, 60-58 over Fort Bend Bush
Top players: Kerwin Roach, 6-3, G, Jr.; Jarrey Foster, 6-5, G/F, Jr.; Jalin Hart, 5-10, G, Sr.
Notable: Roach and Foster are the team’s leading scorers, averaging 16.1 and 12.7 points, respectively. … North Shore enters the state tournament on a 15-game winning streak. Its last loss came in a 78-72 defeat against Port Arthur Memorial on Jan. 3. During the winning streak, only two opponents have come within 10 points. … North Shore reached the 5A championship in 1997 and lost, 64-53, to Kimball.
District: 7-5A (first). Record: 31-3
Coach: Chris Dyer
State titles: 1 (2003)
Previous appearances: 3 (2009)
Playoff victories: 42-33 over Killeen, 63-49 over Lewisville, 55-43 over Killeen Harker Heights, 55-38 over Lubbock Coronado, 59-51 over Arlington Bowie
Top players: Terry Maston, 6-7, F, Sr.; Takedrick Brown, 5-9, G, Sr.; Julian Miranda, 5-9, G, Soph.
Notable: DeSoto rode its shutdown defense to the program’s first state appearance since 2009. Playoff opponents are averaging 42.8 points, and only one Arlington Bowie scored more than 50. … Maston, a Baylor signee, and Brown create all sorts of matchup problems. Maston can hurt teams in the post, like he did with 18 points against Lubbock Coronado. Brown buried five 3-pointers against Bowie.