Lance Sutherland has a small problem. Well, OK, it’s a big problem — but it’s still a good one to have.
Sutherland wants to consolidate a pair of very tall players into his team at Hurricane, a program that’s gone about a generation without a true towering post player.
Earlier this year, two African teenagers — 7-foot-2 Bol Kuir from South Sudan and 6-10 Gabriel Beny from Sudan — enrolled at the Putnam County school and are expected to join the Redskins’ roster this winter. They competed with Hurricane’s team Wednesday during summer practice games at the University of Charleston’s Wehrle Innovation Center.
Kuir and Beny, who will be sophomores this coming season, are currently living in Hurricane with their guardian, Daniel Hicks. They said they are looking forward to the educational and athletic experience.
“I like to study in Hurricane. It’s good,’’ said the 16-year-old Bol.
“It’s good to play basketball at high school,’’ said Beny, 15, “and after high school, go to college and play basketball.’’
So when’s the last time Sutherland coached a player as tall as either one?
“Never,’’ Sutherland said. “Back when I first started at Hurricane as the freshman coach for Freddie [Wright], we had a kid about 6-7 or 6-8, but that was 20-some years ago.’’
The presence of Kuir and Beny certainly changes the dynamic for Sutherland, who enters his ninth season as Hurricane’s head coach, coming off a 17-6 season that had the Redskins ranked in the Class AAA top 10 much of the season.
“It does [change things],’’ Sutherland said. “Because when you have that kind of post presence that you normally don’t have — that we’ve never had — it forces me to teach the game differently and everybody else has to learn the game differently. We’re used to having five guys run as one pretty much. Now we’ve got a post presence and we’ll have to try to go inside-out more than we normally do.’’
Sutherland said the new additions won’t necessarily cut into the playing time of returning players, because the Skins lost four seniors off last year’s team, including Nos. 2 and 3 scorers Joe Muto and Jordan Nicely, and only five upperclassmen return from that squad. One of them is senior point guard Austin Dearing (16.3 points per game).
“With what we lost last year,’’ Sutherland said, “this will greatly help us rebuild quicker than we normally would. We were going to be young regardless. Those guys who haven’t been coming out who are freshmen and sophomores that are a step behind ... these guys will step up and try to take those positions. Still, I like the freshmen and sophomores we have coming back.
“Of course, we won’t know anything until November — whether who does what. But we’re going to be young either way if they are here or they are not. Right now, we’re getting them ready to play, getting them used to the speed of the [Mountain State Athletic Conference] and the physicality of the game.’’