The Rome Wolves prepare to begin their 2020-21 basketball season with a new head coach at the helm.
Ryan Chambless, a native of Alabama, became the Wolves’ head coach earlier this year after crossing east over the state line from Pleasant Valley High School in Jacksonville, Alabama.
“I’m in a new state, I’m wearing new colors, but I’m the same guy,” Chambless said in a phone interview. “I expect teams to play as hard and compete as hard as they possibly can and try to buy in to what we’re doing, ... play as a team and focus on improving every day.”
Rome graduated just two seniors from the program in Jabez Adams and Jaylen Nelson.
Chambless highlighted senior Justyn Smith and Jay Wise, the latter still playing football for Rome, as key pieces entering this season.
Smith said a fair amount of his team remains with the football team, currently in the Sweet 16, but expects to field a strong squad this season.
Chambless said his goal is to make Wolves basketball highly competitive in similar fashion to Wolves Football.
“Just been really preaching defense,” Chambless said. “If we can play tough defense, then we’ll have a chance to win every game. My philosophy is if you’re tough defensively, then sometimes you can slip up and beat the team that’s a little bit better than you.”
Schedule-wise, Rome plans to compete in the annual Christmas Basketball Tournament, this year being hosted by Armuchee High School. Outside of the holiday tournament, the Wolves only have three scheduled non-region games on the docket.
“When the state backed up football, ... there was no adjustment to the basketball season, so that’s been tough,” Chambless said. “There’s no where to add games on the back end because there’s just no wiggle room to adjust the season. That’s just the hand you’re dealt this year. You’re just trying to play that hand the best you can.”
Given the COVID-19 pandemic, Chambless said he’s had only limited amount of time with his team prior to season tip-off, but he is optimistic about getting underway.
“I think the athleticism is there,” Chambless said. “I think the ability to play in a system that I want to coach is definitely there. I think we run the floor well. I’ve just seen bits and pieces here and there of very positive things. I think the biggest change as has been the defensive side of the ball.”
Chambless brings a good amount of experience to the table, competing in high school basketball at Alexandria High School and college ball at Jacksonville State, both in Alabama. At JSU, Chambless played under current Maryland Terrapins head coach Mark Turgeon.
The Wolves open their season against Harrison High School on Thursday at Rome High School. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m.