Neal during one of his games at Houston. 

The new head coach for the Vardaman Rams boys’ team is looking to bring a new, high energy level play style to the program.

Coach Eddie Neal is the former assistant basketball coach at Houston and is now making his way 13 minutes down the road to turn around the Vardaman basketball program.

Coach Neal saw this opportunity as the perfect position for himself and was ready to take on this challenge after seeing the opening. He had always dreamed of coaching a smaller school that was not known for basketball and making it his first priority to bring the program to life.

“My goal for my first season is to work to bring basketball pride back to this program.”

At Houston, Coach Neal and head coach Chris Pettit managed to do that for their team. Their team thrived at running a high energy game consisting of a fast-paced offense and a tough, active defense. This playstyle led to a 20-6 record for Houston, and Neal plans to use some aspects of this style to bring a winning culture to Vardaman.

“It all starts with practice,” Coach Neal said. “The first day of practice will be high intensity. I want my guys to go after each other on both ends of the floor, so when we do play our first game we will be ready for anything.”

Defense is one of Coach Neal’s many calling cards when it comes to the game of basketball. He believes that enforcing defense will be the first key to building a winning program.

“I love defense. When I see a player locked in on defense, dive for a ball or any little thing, you will see me on the sideline jumping up and down and cheering them on.”

On offense, Coach Neal said that he plans on running a slower tempo than he did at Houston, but that does not mean the energy will disappear. Running good offensive sets in the half court will be his main focus for next season.

“At Houston, we were known for having a bunch of athletes, that is why we were able to run fast-paced. Here, I want us to be known as the team that wears our opponents down and makes them question their defense.”

Building a “won’t back down” mentality is high on Coach Neal’s to-do list. The motto that he wants his team to live by next season is “Take everything and give em nothing.” He considers this a great motto to go by when facing powerhouse teams like Calhoun City, Bruce, and Houston.

“I know we might lose some games, but every game we are going to come with the attitude that you are going to have to drag us down and put us to sleep if you want us to give up.”

Coach Neal’s long-term goal is to build a championship culture in this program. With the mindset and skills that he plans to bring and the support that he is already receiving amongst his team, that goal may happen sooner than later.

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