Mickey Cozart had a lot to learn.
He said so himself, after his Bulldogs lost to Miami Trace in the district semifinals last year to end the season.
“I’ll get better,” he said.
In the first season with Cozart as coach, the Bulldogs had some successes. They won their sectional, allowing them to play in The Convo, a goal they had set out to achieve before the season. Senior point guard Griffin Lutz scored his 1,000th point and was named to the AP All-Southeast District first team.
But the learning process for Cozart started before his first season.
Cozart became the coach midway through the summer before last season, so there wasn’t a lot of time to implement the system he likes to run. There was some scrambling to figure out the roles of some players, but Lutz’s play helped that some.
“We were basically trying to put together a whole system in five weeks,” Cozart said.
Going into his second season, knowing the roles and limitations of his players is important for Cozart. He knows what his players can do and can’t do. He has his shooters, his ball handlers, his big men.
“Guys are buying into what we’re doing,” Cozart said. “They’re not second guessing themselves as to where they need to be.”
The players don’t need to second guess themselves because they’re used to the system now. They played 39 games together in June. They got to run the system that Cozart put in. They are building on the success they had last year.
Two new assistant coaches are helping with the learning process this year: Tracy Bobo and Travis Pickerel.
Bobo, an old high school teammate and friend of Cozart, is focusing on the Bulldogs’ shooters. He might be the right guy for that job — his senior year, he averaged 20 points a game on a team that averaged 94 points a game.
Pickrell has coached with Cozart for a while, just not at the high school level. Pickrell is into analytics, which will help grow the Bulldog offense into the fast-tempo, high-powered system Cozart wants.
Two new offensive-oriented coaches will help the Bulldogs, who could find themselves in scoring droughts at points last season — they scored under 50 points four times last season.
And in the Tri-Valley Conference, the coaches know what they need their team to do to win. With Vinton County, defending TVC-Ohio champion, returning some of its best players, the Bulldogs cannot afford to be upset if they want to reach one of their main goals this season — win the TVC.
So what has Cozart learned?
“You've got to be on point every night,” he said. “Somebody can sneak up on you if you’re not ready to go.”