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Simmons Says Birthday Mailbag

We're going to keep the mailbags running until I stop being lazy and start recording podcasts again. At some point, I'm going to start recording two podcasts a week on Wednesdays and airing them Thursdays and Mondays, but I haven't used my time wisely yet in 2022 and I haven't found a sponsor to supplement the cost of putting up 8-10 hours a month of talking yet (My inbox is open for a business or person that wants to get a message out out my listeners; we've had over 2,000 downloads since starting the WCSA podcast that's available on Apple and Spotify).

So instead, you get these marathon mailbags, which I hope people are still enjoying. At the very least, I keep getting asked questions that are good enough to make the mailbag, so that's something. I had to get this one out right now because there are so many of them that are time sensitive, including the questions about my birthday over the weekend.

I can only imagine this could grow into a great weekly podcast by the spring when we have so many teams playing all over the county. Maybe I can grab a coach a week too - at least that is the plan in my head to get out two podcasts a week.

Anyway, let's not waste anytime getting into your questions, which I get through messaging, emails, texts or in person out at games:

Ansley Mullican Murphree almost lost her manager privileges on the WCSA Facebook for this post over the weekend. Nobody wants to see this much of me, especially me.


Did you have a good birthday and what did you get?


Yes I did have a good day. Thanks so much to everybody who wished me a happy birthday Saturday, whether it was a call, text, Snapchat, Facebook post or Instagram DM. For the first time ever, I actually was temporarily blocked from posting on Facebook Saturday and Sunday while trying to thank everyone. I figured if I was going to get blocked on Facebook, it would’ve been for something far worse than saying thanks. I would’ve guessed it would be some rant caused by a Tennessee or Spurs loss.

As for gifts, you really don’t do much of that at my age (maybe guys with girlfriends or wives get spoiled). It’s usually extremely nice cards from family, maybe a birthday meal (I got Praters delivered to me, which was nice) and some cash. I’ll gladly take more of the latter from readers who want to read everything I write by subscribing and I’m offering a $50/month special for all advertisers right now (just reach out and we’ll get you started ASAP).

If I could ask for one belated gift, it would be for the 3-Point Club to move the championship games of the county tournament to Friday night instead of Saturday morning. I think it would be cool for those games to get the true Charlie Dalton Gym experience when everybody packs in to see local basketball and the place is rocking on a Friday night. I just don’t think you’re getting the same vibes Saturday at 1 p.m. when most people would rather be in the middle of their weekend plans.

Also, it's a selfish suggestion since I’ve already committed to calling the consolation and championship games for WCS-TV, so I’d much rather do that from 4-10 p.m. Friday than I would 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Saturday. So whoever makes that call for the 3-Point Club, let’s make it happen. I’ll guarantee you’ll make more money on a Friday night than a Saturday or you can have your money back on this free column.


How do you make your selections for the All-County team?


I thought I explained this pretty well on the posts, but I still got asked about it after they were posted. So again – it’s eye test, meticulous stat keeping (as long as school score keepers accurate, and they usually are, I can tell you how many points every kid in the county scored this season in 5-6 and 7-8 grade), team success, impact on both ends and passion/excitement for the game. As I said in my posts, I could usually tell what kids stand out after watching them for one quarter, although I will say there was one spot on the boys team that I had narrowed down to three players by the last night of the season and made my final choice in the wee hours before I posted.

One thing I didn’t mention: I have a personal bias for left-handed players and post players. I’m a lefty and played in the paint my whole life, so I may overrate both of those genetic gifts (post players, usually, are the tallest kids). I can promise you this too – if you’re a lefty, it’s probably going to get mentioned in EVERY story if you do something well. I don’t think my computer will even let me type Jayla Garibaldi without it autocorrecting to “lefty Jayla Garibaldi.”

The final thing I’ll say on it – the coaches had little to with the process and nothing to do with the final selections. I respect all of them for their help when I reached out for more information on kids, but I wouldn’t put them in the position of picking among their kids or lobbying for more spots - I already have my own admitted biases, I didn’t need them trying to sell me on one of their kids over a kid on another team either.



Who picks the Athlete of the Week?


This is basically a sub-question of the previous question with the same answer: I pick it on my own with my own criteria. I love partnering with Security Federal, one of my former employers, on the popular Athlete of the Week and will always listen if they want to make a suggestion, but I write the story and make the picks without any coaches, players or schools knowing who it will be.

I try to mix it up: Don't pick the same person twice unless they really merit it, no more than three weeks in a row honoring the same gender, find ways to balance HS and MS ages and honoring our private schools are things I always try to keep in mind. I also like using the Security Federal Athlete of the Week to maybe find an under-the-radar athlete on a winning team that doesn’t get as many headlines but impacts winning just as much. If I didn't have any of those criteria, one athlete could win it over and over (think CJ Taylor during 2020-21 or Katie Toney last fall).

With our cheerleaders heading to nationals (and our Pioneerettes lining up a trip to Florida soon too), don’t be shocked if our Athlete of the Week lines up with those competitions in the coming weeks.



Who do you think is going to win the Super Bowl?


Trust me, if you knew how much money I lost on the Super Bowl last year, you wouldn’t want my prediction on the Super Bowl. But if you’re one of those people who likes to fade bets of bad gamblers, then I’ll let you know.

I think the Rams are going to win and Cooper Kupp will be named Super Bowl MVP. If you like a nice prop bet, I’d look into any of the following: Kupp Anytime TD + Rams win (+117 on FanDuel), Kupp scores two TDs (+290), Kupp and Ja’Marr Chase to combine for 200 yards and two TDs (+280) and one of my favorite long-odds specials – Each team scores 1+ TD and 1+ FG in each half (+1500).

If you don’t understand what those numbers mean, then don’t gamble on the Super Bowl. If you do and you win money on my suggestions, I’ll send you my Venmo for my cut. If you follow my tips and lose, then lose my number.

Good luck to all my Rams and Bengals fans. I’ll be supporting the Bengals in honor of WCSA reporter Ansley Mullican Murphree. She loves Joe Burrow (just a little bit less than her husband, I think), so if it makes her happy that the Bengals win, then I’ll be happy too.

Also, good luck to everybody on your Super Bowl squares. If you know, you know.


Can the Lady Pioneers get over the hump against Coffee County in the postseason?


If you would’ve asked me this early last week, I’d probably say no. The first two games played out a lot like I figured they would – Coffee County found a way to overwhelm the Lady Pioneers with their size (both offensively and defensively). I love this group of Lady Pioneers – they’re tenacious, competitive and super skilled. What they aren’t – and will never be – is big or tall. Against Coffee County, it’s a major disadvantage that doesn't feel like it can be overcome by effort alone (overall talent may lean slightly to the Lady Raiders too).

After watching Friday’s game, when the Lady Pioneers held leads in the third and fourth quarters and may have won if not for falling into a 9-0 hole, my hopes are higher that the Lady Pioneers can pull off an upset against one of the state’s top 10 teams next week in Shelbyville. I’ll save my prediction for if Round 4 happens – I said in my preview column on the first matchup I’d pick a winner if they met with a title on the line.



All-County team vs. WCMS – which teams win (girls and boys)?


“Who wins if….” are both my favorite questions to get and least favorite hypotheticals to answer in these mailbags. I love the thought process required most times (these matchups, for example, are much tougher to answer than the 100 different times I’ve been asked about Lady Broncos vs. Lady Pioneers), but if I answer it with certainty, then I know somebody is going to get upset. I usually hedge and write something vague because I can since this is my website.

I’ll throw caution to the wind one time – the Pioneers and the All-County girls would win if the WCSA All-County selections took on the WCMS teams. I’ll give my reasoning too.

Quick note: I’m assuming the WCSA All-County lineups would start the 1st teams I selected and have 15 player rosters. You can find those lists here (Boys) and here (Girls).


Elementary basketball comes down to the best player 99 percent of the time and I think Carter Simpson, the point guard of the WCMS Pioneers, is the best boys player in the county. Would he have some difficultly dealing with the Robledo brothers? Absolutely. But in the end, I think Simpson’s scoring and the Pioneers’ size (DeShawn Adams and the ever-improving Keyton Reno) would make the difference.

The path to the county boys team winning would be the Robledos creating chaos with their pressure, Chance Whitlock having a huge game protecting the rim, Corban Felton drilling some 3-pointers and using depth (WCMS isn’t deep – they played only five players the majority of their postseason minutes) to its advantage.

Fans would enjoy seeing Jayla Garibaldi, Maci McBride, Isaiah Robledo and Carter Simpson battling it out. They may like them all even more as teammates in the coming years.

 

On the girls side, I think it would come down to who had the ball last. I think if it came down to one player to get a bucket in the final 30 seconds of a tie game, I’d take Morrison PG Jayla Garibaldi’s chances to get to her left hand and score over the chances of any other girl in 6-8 grade ball right now.

If you want to argue Maci McBride or Addison Steakley is just as likely to get that bucket, I wouldn’t put up much of a fight. Those two girls, who will be back at WCMS next year, are going to a quite a tandem as they get older and there are some other emerging pieces in the Lady Pioneer pipeline as well.

This is one of those hypotheticals that could’ve easily happened by the way. It wasn’t long ago when the best county kids were gathered on a team and played a few games and tournaments together. In one of those tournaments, the county boys – featuring at least one guy who just went through senior night at WCHS (Kaden Desmarais) – beat WCMS in a huge matchup at Charlie Dalton Gym.

I saw one comment on Facebook about our WCSA All-County teams that said, “this piece could make the argument on why we don’t need to consolidate the top talented kids all to the middle school.” I have made the consolidation argument for years and even did a lengthy podcast discussing the prospects of it. Let’s say I’ve wavered some on my stance this winter (for a variety of reasons that I may discuss on a future podcast).

One last thing – who coaches the all-county teams in those hypothetical games would have a big impact on the results.


 


Who will be the next 1,000-point scorer in Warren County?


EASY QUESTION!!! The next 1,000 point scorer in Warren County will be Covenant’s Noah Mason. He’s going to do it tonight (Feb. 7) at home for the Lions. He is two points away from a truly impressive achievement when you consider he has only played two years for Covenant (Mason is averaging 20+ points for the Lions this year, including a slew of 30-plus point outings in the last two weeks).

Noah Mason is a standout for Covenant.

After him, I’d probably bounce back over to Boyd, which has the most recent player to reach the 1,000-point plateau (until Mason’s first bucket Monday). Anna Jones, a senior, put her name among the top Lady Broncos ever by hitting the milestone a few weeks ago on one of her patented 3-pointers. Her current teammate, sophomore PG Laney Copeland, could be the next to 1,000.

Copeland already has 455 points as a Lady Bronco despite arriving from Sparta last spring and suiting up at Boyd for the first time in November. She’s coming off a career-high 29 points Saturday in a win over Zion Christian that pushed the Lady Broncos to an almost unfathomable 27-2 record. If she continues to average 20 points per game (a mark she’s hit seven of her last 10 games), she’ll finish this season with around 600 points and still have two more years of eligibility.

Since Copeland will have to carry more of the scoring next year (Jones and Lia Wright, who combine to average 27.6 points this year, are graduating), it’s not outside the realm of possibility she scores 2,000 points in her Lady Bronco career. That’s something she would have in common with current Boyd senior Christian Rogers as long as he’s healthy and plays the rest of this season.

Rogers, who got his 1,000th point in a Covenant-Boyd battle last year as a junior, is 100 points or so away from the 2,000-point mark. Odds are the Boyd big man, who has averaged 23-plus points over the last two seasons, gets there this year.

As for WCHS, that’s a tough one. The Lady Pioneers may be soaring to new heights with 21 wins (and counting) going into Monday’s game, but they aren’t doing it with one or two dominant scorers. The WCHS girls spread out their scoring, with Kyra Perkins, Shelby Smartt and Sable Winfree leading the way.

Of those three, Winfree has the best chance of going for 1,000 points since she’s just a sophomore. She is currently on pace – she’ll likely get to 500 points in the postseason and will have the advantage of playing deeper into the postseason than past Lady Pioneers (she’s guaranteed to go to regionals her entire career). Smartt could get there with an outstanding senior year, but I’m betting the Warren County's stars eschew personal highs for team highs – these Lady Pioneers only seem to care about piling up wins, not individual points.

For the Pioneers, the next 1,000-point scorer is likely not on the roster yet. Nobody playing for the WCHS boys is close to being on pace for 1,000 points, nor do any seem poised to be consistent 20-point scorers in the future. If you don’t have a year where you average 20 points per game, then you basically need to play 100 or more games to get there. None of the current Pioneers played enough as freshmen (understandable considering the most recent graduating class ate up the majority of the minutes for two years) to get to the 100-game mark.

Carter Simpson – mentioned a ton above – would be who I would have my money on if I had to bet on a Warren County boy to score 1,000 points in their high school career.



Are we looking at any coaching searches soon?


This was a much more specific question and I’ve been asked it about multiple coaches in lots of sports at every level. Ultimately, I have the same answer for everybody and pretty much use it on repeat (so much so that I know it won’t reveal whether I know more than I’m letting on). Here’s what I tell people when they ask if Coach X will be back next year: “I’ll believe they are leaving when I get the text, ‘I’m done, let’s do a story.’ Until then, I just assume everybody is coming back.”

Take Gooby Martin for example. Basically every year Gooby has been leading the Lady Pioneer softball team to wins (and multiple championships), the rumor comes out in May that it is going to be his final year. The following February, Gooby sends me his roster and schedule and we start talking about what the team is going to look like when the district tournament comes around. I like to joke that Gooby has been retiring from the WCHS softball team for eight years - he’ll start his eighth season next month.

The law of averages leads me to believe that yes, we will have some coaching changes before the 2022-23 school year begins. WCHS seems to have at least one coaching search a year and elementary coaches come and go so quickly that if you search Dibrell coach in my phone contacts, you’ll probably find 6-8 different people. I know I have a pretty good relationship with a coach if they’re just in my phone as their name and no identifier of what team they coach before it.

I’m not going to speculate which coaches I think may actually be in their final year, but I’m gathering some hot boards in place just to be prepared. I don’t think I can get any coach hired – except Tyler Sapp – but I’ll definitely have a top 5 or top 10 wish list ready to go if we have some major jobs open up.


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