’32 minutes of Hell’

Published 11:00 pm Monday, December 23, 2013

Pike County's Jerrell Lawson (2) looks to pass past Samson's Matt Stacy during a game in the Goshen Christmas Tournament in Goshen, Ala., Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013. (Photo/Thomas Graning)

Pike County’s Jerrell Lawson (2) looks to pass past Samson’s Matt Stacy during a game in the Goshen Christmas Tournament in Goshen, Ala., Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013. (Photo/Thomas Graning)

In the early 1990’s University of Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson introduced a offensive system that brought wins to the Hogs and left their opponents gasping for air and begging for a play stoppage.

In 2013, Pike county head coach Doug Holland has adopted a variation of Richardson’s “40 minutes of hell,” and has the Bulldogs off and running in the early part of the season.

The Bulldogs love to press on defense, and try to force turnovers in the backcourt, either via bad passes or traveling violations.

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“We want to pressure the other teams in to mistakes,” Holland said. “A lot of teams don’t see presses, so we get to take advantage of that. But the main reason we like to do it is to use the athletes we have. We are blessed with a really quick group of guys. They fit perfect in to the system.”

On offense, Pike County likes to run and make quick passes to set up easy buckets.

But at times, Holland will pull up on the reigns and slow his team down, because of “game flow purposes.”

“Sometimes I think the guys get to going too fast,” Holland said. “We like to run, but sometimes we need to slow down and run our offense. It helps us calm down, and find shots in a different way.”

Holland was a college freshman when Richardson’s Razorbacks convincingly won the 1994 NCAA Basketball Tournament.

He said he remembers watching Arkansas roll to a 31-3 record that year, and sees similarities between the teams

The Bulldogs’ trio of Stevie Smiley, Ryshaun Hall and Jerrell Lawson bring visions of the Hogs’ big three of post-player Corliss Williamson and shooters Al Dillard and Scotty Thurman.

“They (Arkansas) found a system that worked for them, and we did the same for us,” Holland said. “There are a lot of differences. Ours is 32 minutes of hell.”

One of the key differences, Holland feels, is the way the Bulldogs’ bench players possess the ability to take over the game as well.

“I feel like any of the guys can have big nights at any point and time,” said Holland. “Deshon (Cowling), Kamari (Jackson), Jerell, Stevie  and all the guys have the skills to do it. None of them are selfish, and all they want to do is win.”

Holland feels the key to the run-based system is conditioning, and he said the Dawgs get plenty of it.

“We do the same type of workouts with the football team over the summer,” Holland said. “We run and lift, the go to practice and then run some more. We want to be the top team on the floor mentally and physically. When you are tired you don’t think as clearly, and we want the other team to be the tired ones on the floor come the fourth quarter.”

The Bulldogs will take a few days off to enjoy Christmas with their families before ramping up for the stretch run of the season. Pike County returns to the floor December 27 to take part in the Geneva County Christmas Tournament in Hartford.

When the calendar turns to January, area foes Montgomery Catholic, Barbour County and Abbeville await the Bulldogs. Holland said the Dawgs will need to be near the top of their game when the season turns to 2014.

“Region play is what it is all about,” Holland said. “Our region is very tough, and we will have to be ready to play each night. Barbour County, Abbeville and Catholic will be quick and will probably press just as much as us, if not more. The next few weeks are big for us.”