The Irmo Yellow Jackets enter the 2008-09 season with a very proud basketball tradition.
During the 27-year tenure of coach Tim Whipple, Irmo has won 508 games, averaging nearly 19 wins a season. During that time, the Yellow Jackets have won three state championships, finished runner-up three times and have made the state playoffs 23 times.
A look at the Yellow Jacket roster shows seven seniors, three juniors, four sophomores and one freshman. Irmo return eight players with very little game experience. Only two starters, seniors Robbie Brunson and DeAndrei Carson, return from a team that finished region runner-up with 18 wins and 8 losses a year ago. Senior point guard Daniel Huguenin is the only other returning player with game experience. These three will join varsity returnees Anthony Greer and John Ranly and newcomer Sam McConkie, a 6-7, 260 pound transfer post player and a talented group of young players led by freshman Jordan Roper and sophomores Jeremy and Josh Clinkscales. Seniors Kyle Brand and Brandon Thomas, along with juniors Mustafa Greene and Stephen Rodgers; and sophomores David Frazier and Lorenzo McLemore complete the Yellow Jacket roster.
Overcoming inexperience will be the major factor in determining the success of this team. If the Yellow Jackets are to be competitive this year, it is imperative that they develop team chemistry quickly. Each player must be willing to accept their role and unselfishly perform that role to the best of their ability. Early season games will be difficult. An extremely competitive non-conference schedule, including games with Ridge View and Spring Valley, will hopefully prepare Irmo for what is arguably the most competitive region in the state.
Irmo will again rely on a strong defense, using full and half court pressure to, hopefully, create some easy scoring opportunities. Every possession seemed crucial for the Yellow Jackets last season as points came very difficultly. A stronger defense and a more potent offense should create a more open attack this year. As always, Irmo offensively will attempt to use the individual strengths of each player, within a team concept, to provide high percentage scoring opportunities. Daniel Huguenin, John Ranly, Anthony Greer and Jeremy Clinkscales have all shown the ability to shoot the 3-point shot. However, a consistent perimeter scoring threat has yet to be found. Inside play was a strong point for the Yellow Jackets last year. Post play will again be a key and should develop as the year progresses, with Robbie Brunson and Sam McConkie.
Presently, one major weakness is the inability to block out and rebound consistently. This could be a major factor especially in early season games. If an effort is not made to create some easy scoring opportunities on the offensive boards and limit opponents to one shot, the Yellow Jackets could be in for a long year.
If the Yellow Jackets are to be successful this year, all players will have to contribute both offensively and defensively. Irmo is not an extremely physical team, and are of average size. The offense will have to execute at a high level, and the defense will have to play with a great deal of heart and intensity. With really no proven go-to-players success this year will definitely depend upon a complete team effort both offensively and defensively.