Cowboy Up: Coppell's hot shooting leaves Allen still winless on season
While awaiting transfers and football players means it is far from a finished product, the Allen boys basketball team is still soldiering through its share of growing pains.
Tuesday's 61-41 loss at Coppell was just another example, with the Eagles (0-4) still seeking their first win of the season.
"We're still struggling with finding out identity on the offensive end of the floor," said Jeff McCullough, Allen head coach. "It's going to take some time with this team learning a new system and not having all its guys in the gym, but it'll come around."
The Cowboys weren't relenting, jumping all over the Eagles from the opening tip for a 20-4 lead after one quarter. After missing its first shot, Coppell found a rhythm from the field -- particularly from long distance where 3-pointers sunk Allen into its biggest first-quarter deficit of the season.
"We got off to a slow start and we're not shooting the ball real well right now," McCullough said. "In the first quarter we put ourselves in a hole, which put us in a bad position as far as being able to control the tempo."
The Cowboys would only outscore Allen, 41-37, for the remainder of the game but the initial damage was already done as the team's early-season offensive woes continued.
"It's tough when you're not making shots and the other team is knocking them down," McCullough said. "In the second half, I thought the kids came out with a bit more attitude and really competed on the defensive end."
Any scoring was provided by the tandem of senior Cameron Epps and sophomore Olin Carter, an ongoing theme for the Eagles this season. Accounting for 58 percent of the offense on Tuesday, Carter led the team with 14 points while Epps chipped in with 10.
"I thought both [Carter and Epps] were solid," McCullough said. "Neither one of them shot the ball exceptionally well but they're our two best threats right now. Where we're struggling is getting easy baskets and establishing a presence inside."
Much of Tuesday's offense came from the backcourt, another wrinkle the Eagles are still ironing out in steadying the frontcourt rotation and establishing an interior presence.
"The fact of the matter is we don't have any returning varsity starters," McCullough said, "and we're shorthanded, so it's going to be a process just to learn how to be consistent, win and be varsity basketball players.
"It takes time, but I'm confident we'll get there."
Allen continues to adjust without its full complement of players, with junior Tay Evans still plying his craft on the gridiron and the team awaiting the transfers of juniors Jackson Davis and Jamuni McNease to be made official.
"I think we're close," McCullough said of his transfers. "We're still waiting on a few things to get returned and fall in place, but hopefully in the next week we'll have those guys ready to go."
The additions have noted potential to pay off.
"We become 10 times more physical and athletic around the rim, which is where we're struggling right now," McCullough said. "As is, we've had to slide a lot of guys out of their natural positions and when we get those players, it'll also give us some depth and we'll get those easy baskets around the rim."
Until that formula can truly manifest, the Eagles will continue to work with the hand they've been dealt. With matchups against state-ranked foes in West Mesquite and Richardson Berkner under its belt, things don't get any easier at 4 p.m. today from Mansfield Legacy when Allen opens up the Mansfield ISD Spring Creek Classic against Duncanville, ranked No. 3 in Class 5A according to the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches.
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