News: Defensive minded Quantico continues its winning ways
Story by Sgt. Christopher Zahn
QUNATICO, Va. - The Quantico Bulldogs men’s varsity basketball team continued their undefeated season with a 86-44 victory over Fort Belvoir on Saturday at Fort Belvoir.
The 4-0 team is now headed into a lengthy stretch of games here with tough tests this weekend in games against Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling and also undefeated Joint Base Meyer-Henderson Hall.
The Bulldogs and JBM-HH are tied for the lead in the Washington Area Military Athletic Conference and, while their game Sunday won’t determine the championship, it will still be a hard fought, meaningful contest, one that Quantico is ready for.
“Right now we’re playing good defense, which is the key to having a good offense,” said Willie Nathan, the starting shooting guard for the Bulldogs. “We have lost a couple players, but a lot of other guys are stepping up.”
The team has come a long way since the beginning of the season. Because of operational requirements and other Marine Corps duties, there are always roster changes from one year to the next. Being able to integrate those new players into the team is one of the many reasons Quantico has been so successful over the years.
“The gelling process begins off the court,” Nathan said. “We have a pretty good group of guys who bond well on the court and off the court.”
“The team is just getting closer and closer, more tight knit and it’s a blast playing on this Marine Corps team,” said Tim Cox, the team’s lone Army player.
Cox had to earn his place on the team by impressing the team’s other principal reason for success, head coach James Jones.
“It starts with our leadership, all the intensity, all the things you see us do, it starts with our coaching staff,” Cox said.
The trademark of this team is the attacking style of defense that Jones prefers. They pressure the ball with a full court, man-to-man defense almost exclusively and it has become the mantra for the players. They are often more excited for a steal from good defense than a flashy dunk.
“That’s Coach’s philosophy, keeping the pressure on and running the floor from one end to the other,” said Sean Seaman, a first year player for the Bulldogs. “It’s become the team’s mentality. We get a lot of easy baskets off the defensive turnovers that we force and applying that pressure makes our offensive side that much better.”
Another ace in the Bulldog’s pocket is the quality of players available. Most teams don’t have the luxury of 12 players who are talented enough to start on any other team, but willingly sacrifice their individual statistics for the team.
“The key to it is the bench,” Nathan said. “Our starting five do their jobs and the bench comes in and does theirs. So it makes it a lot easier for us on the court.”
“Everyone one on the team has a role and we’re getting to the point where we all understand that role,” Cox added.
So there will be a confident, seasoned team that steps onto the court to face two of the top teams in the WAMAC this year, undefeated JBM-HH and 3-1 JBAB.
“We’re looking forward to just doing the same things, play good defense, run our offense and just play ball,” Nathan said.