Vikings make strides under McDuffie
by Johnathan Bentley
Dec 26, 2013 | 2634 views | 0 0 comments | 47 47 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Walker boys basketball coach Rufus McDuffie has led the Vikings to 10 wins this season. The team won just six games last year and averaged just 10 wins a season over the last three years. The Vikings are also atop the area standings with a 3-0 record. Photo by Johnathan Bentley
Walker boys basketball coach Rufus McDuffie has led the Vikings to 10 wins this season. The team won just six games last year and averaged just 10 wins a season over the last three years. The Vikings are also atop the area standings with a 3-0 record. Photo by Johnathan Bentley
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Walker High School brought in new boys basketball coach Rufus McDuffie in June with the hopes of turning around a dormant program.

Closing in on the halfway point of the 2013-14 season, the Vikings have shown promise — getting off to a 10-4 start. Not bad, considering the team averaged just 10 wins a season over the last three years. Walker is also atop the Class 5A, Area 14 standings through the first half of the area schedule with a perfect 3-0 record.

“We are having growing pains, but we’re getting better,” said McDuffie, who won three state championships during a Hall of Fame high school coaching career in Georgia. “Sometimes it takes longer than the coach anticipates for the guys to really understand and pick up what we want them to do. We haven’t exactly learned how to play the defense the way I want it played, but we are getting better.”

The Vikings have earned narrow victories over teams like Jackson Olin and Winfield this season, but Walker has struggled against long, athletic teams like Pleasant Grove, Tuscaloosa County and Buckhorn, losing those three games by an average of 28 points per game.

Walker also has a tough road this week. The Vikings began play in the Big Orange Classic in Hoover on Thursday, dropping their opener to Fairfield 50-41. Walker takes on either Shelby County or Smith Station today at 4:30 p.m.

McDuffie says playing stronger teams will help Walker in the log run.

“Here is the big thing it does for us — that’s where we want to be. We need to play teams like that and see how they play. We need to realize if we want to get where they are, we’ve got to work a lot harder,” McDuffie added.

“We don’t have enough talent where we can play a team and not play hard, not block out, not draw charges and not rebound. We aren’t athletic enough. We’ve got to do the small things. Those are some of the things we talk about and we work on daily.”

Defense has particularly been a work in progress during McDuffie’s first season at Songer Gym.

“We have improved defensively, because, the way we play defense, every time down the court you may do something different. It’s not a defense where every time down the court you are going to do the exact same things,” McDuffie said. “It takes some time to learn the defense.”

McDuffie said the team is on track to meet its goals this year.

“Early in the year, before practice started, we talked about what we wanted to accomplish. We wanted to have a winning season and compete for the area championship. Those are our immediate goals,” he said.