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Coyotes head in new direction on the court
denair boys bball
Denairs Patrick Dudley dribbles the ball down court as a Hughson defender chases him during the second round of the Denair Invitational on Friday. - photo by FRANKIE TOVAR / The Journal

Denair High is in the process of forging a new foundation for its boys basketball program, complete with a new scheme, a new approach, and a newish face at head coach.

After finishing at the bottom of the Southern Athletic League standings last season, R.J. Henderson has returned to Denair to help the Coyotes find their winning way. In his first varsity post since leading the Lady Coyotes three years ago, Henderson has been tasked with creating a new sense of team chemistry and finding the perfect combination of players on the court.

It’s still a work in progress.

“I’ve seen people grow and I’ve seen people take some steps back but they’re starting to come around and pull from one another,” Henderson said. “Every ongoing game it can be a different lineup.”

With no underclassman on the team Henderson isn’t expecting leadership to be a problem in 2012, but consistency is a different story. After relying on the scoring exploits of Juan De La Cruz last season, Denair’s boys must find the confidence in themselves to put points on the board and put up a fight in the SAL. Until that happens, Henderson’s starting lineup will remain in flux.

Senior Connor Sosa and junior Salvador De La Cruz have shown to be capable wings for Denair and senior Patrick Dudley has done well as point guard, but Denair’s inside presence has yet to be determined. As of now, seniors Erik Storms and Xavier Valley and junior Trey Howze are in direct competition for minutes at the post.

“We’re not going to have a 20 point scorer, that would be the biggest difference, so we’re going to have to get contributions across the board to be successful,” Henderson said.

“I’m not putting a barometer on wins and losses this year,” Henderson added. “I’m looking to just be competitive, play hard, do the little things, and just improve.”

Henderson has sought out teams from higher divisions during the pre-season to help accelerate his team’s progress in both games and tournaments. The Coyotes are currently hosting their Denair Invitational and will compete in a couple more games before the SAL home opener against Turlock Christian High on Jan. 4.

“The long term deal is by the time the second week of February I feel confident that we’ve established something,” Henderson said.