Year two of the Chris Stapleton era is underway for the Fleming County basketball program.
The Panthers got their summer slate going on Friday as they opened up play at Mason County’s team camp at The Fieldhouse. The first positive sign when practices began last week was the numbers in the program, helping make the transition from year one to year two for Stapleton a much easier one.
“It’s been a lot easier. We had 25 guys at practice the other day which is awesome between our JV and varsity, considering we had about 12 or 13 kids last summer,” Stapleton said. “Actually knowing everybody’s names and not having to go up to them and ask their names. A little continuity, they know what to expect from me, I know what to expect from them, what positions they’re able to play and put them in the best position possible to succeed.”
The added numbers will come in handy for a team that didn’t go too deep often times in games last season, primarily using a six to seven man rotation. With four seniors departing to graduation, the month of June will help give an idea of roles come November when the regular season gets going again.
“Our primary thing is to see who can play, who will be able to help us out, what rotations we can use. We’ve got some newer faces that were with us, but not really on the varsity level,” Stapleton said. “Just seeing what role they can play for us. Some of our older guys giving them a leadership role for us. You got Cole (Saunders), Jayston (Taylor), Kaleb (Flanery) coming back that were starters and played a lot of minutes. We’re trying to get our younger guys to mesh with our older guys. It’s not about wins or losses right now. It’s more for us to get a little bit of conditioning and see what we have through the pipeline.”
They’ll get plenty of conditioning with a lot of games over the next three weeks following Friday’s action. The Panthers will head to Rowan County for consecutive Monday and Tuesday’s over the next two weeks, head to Lewis County for a team camp, host their own team camp and finish off the team camp schedule from June 22-24 with the Morehead State camp before dead period hits.
“We’ve got a lot of games scheduled for our freshman, JV and Varsity, just so these guys can play. It’s good for our younger guys that haven’t been around me or in our program up until this year. They kind of get my sense of feeling and how I coach,” Stapleton said. “We’re playing a lot this summer, but like I told my guys it’s like an evaluation period. There’s nothing more to that. It’s kind of like a tryout. See where you’re going to be successful at, where you’re going to be able to help our program at and go from there.”
In-between all that, they’ll host a kids camp and a golf scramble to get the community involved, a big harping point for Stapleton as he aims for more support in Flemingsburg, along with breeding a winning culture.
“Last year I put a lot of pressure on myself and put a lot of pressure on my guys that winning would change the culture, I wanted to win so bad for them and I think I got a little consumed with that. Our kids are never in trouble, they are always helping out with the community,” Stapleton said. “Just like yesterday (Thursday) after practice, a tree limb fell at the middle school, was blocking the road and they helped out. I just want them to grow up, be successful and be good young members of the community and society. A good group of young men who respect the game and respect themselves and their teammates.”