'Changing of the guard' for LCA boys, but not much different for Rogers
If Lafayette Christian is basketball royalty, both locally and statewide, then a “changing of the guard” would be an appropriate description of what the two-time defending champion Knights have undergone.
That’s at least how new LCA boys coach Errol Rogers would describe it. Rogers, who led the LCA girls program to back-to-back state titles, took over for Byron Starks, who left to become head coach of the new LSU-Eunice men’s program.
But really Rogers is hesitant to use the word “change,” because, philosophically speaking, not much has in his case. Yes, he’s coaching different kids, but much of what he did with the Lady Knights is being used with the boys.
But there’s certainly an adjustment period for the players. That’s been the biggest hurdle, despite LCA’s 15-4 record.
“It’s like anything new,” Rogers said. “When you’ve been doing something for such a long time, it takes awhile to get everybody to adjust to what you’re doing. I felt like these last three games (in the Allstate Sugar Bowl National Prep Classic), we really started to play much better. It’s not just the system, but we’re starting to play together as a group. That’s the thing I’m very proud of.”
The Knights, after picking up wins against West Jefferson and Archbishop Hannan in the first two rounds of the Sugar Bowl Classic, fell 51-50 to Landry-Walker in the championship game of the state bracket. The Chargin’ Buccaneers are the defending runners-up in Class 5A.
“I felt we should have beat them, but we didn’t,” Rogers said. “Some things didn’t go our way late in the game, but that’s to be expected when you’re on the road. We beat a good West Jeff team. We beat a good Archbishop Hannan. So where we’re at right now, I’m proud. I’m really proud of the guys where we’re at right now. Now don’t get me wrong, we still got a long way to go. But where we’re at right now, I’m satisfied right now.”
Chemistry is as important as anything else in basketball, but chemistry won’t get you very far if you can’t execute a system, which LCA is starting to do more effectively as of late.
Rogers implemented the Princeton offense, specifically the “chin series.” The chin series is suitable for guard-oriented teams that lack great size. Backdoor cuts are a staple of the offense, and spacing is key.
“It takes awhile to get better at it, but we’re getting better every day that we practice it,” Rogers said. “It’s good for this personnel. It really is. We’re not that big, so I think it helps with all the movements, and it gives us the best shot to win.”
Defensively, LCA played exclusively man-to-man until recently.
“We want to play man,” Rogers said. “That’s what we’ve been doing. We’re just starting to play a little zone. We had been playing strictly man. I’m glad they’ve caught on.”
Replacing the production of Class 1A Player of the Year Greg Williams Jr., now a freshman at St. John’s, and All-State honorable mention Kailen Thibodeaux has come from a number of sources. It starts with point guard Terrence Jones, the Xavier-New Orleans signee, but he isn’t alone.
“Everybody knows T.J. is our floor general, but Pierre and Victor Dupre have really started to get better,” Rogers said. “Pierre was already pretty good. He shoots the ball really well. He’s really getting better defensively. Javian 'Tippy' Howard has really come along defensively. Matter of fact, the last game, I think he had six defensive charges. So he’s really playing well.
"Also we’ve got Billy Francis, a new guy from Arkansas. He’s really playing really well. Then we got a couple of guys coming from football. Our linebacker from Westminster, Princeton Malbrue, and Errol (Rogers Jr.) are coming off the bench right now.”