NORMAN — When Bryan Merritt took the boys basketball job at Norman North just a month ago, he found himself quickly running out of time. The summer was coming up fast and he had to gather his resources without delay if he wanted to put together an effective summer program.
It’s been a tireless month for Merritt, but his hard work began to show dividends last weekend as the Timberwolves attended a team camp at Oklahoma Baptist University and came away impressive.
The T-Wolves went 7-3 at Shawnee against Class 5A and 6A competition, including Carl Albert, Putnam City North and Del City. It was an impressive showing considering the competition and an even stronger one than Merritt expected.
“Just playing with no organization, I thought the kids did really good,” he said. “We can’t have official practice yet, so we don’t even have any plays set up. We worked on defense and rebounding and we just made stuff up on the offensive end.”
It worked out well enough for the T-Wolves and Merritt, who has seen 35-40 athletes show up at voluntary summer weightlifting workouts.
The strength program, along with the open gym Merritt hosts every week, has brought kids out in greater numbers than the he expected. The fact that North brought a junior varsity and freshmen team to the OBU camp is a testament to that.
Merritt is encouraged.
“I was just happy to field three teams over there, and we did even better than I thought we would,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of potential as a team.”
Part of that potential comes from additions to the roster. In addition to returning the vast majority of last year’s squad, the T-Wolves have been helped by the return of senior Payton Prince and sophomore Quan Hogan, both of whom began last season with the team and started games before ultimately dropping out before the end of the season.
The pair have teamed up with returning star sophomore Marcus Dickinson to provide a potent offensive punch to the team.
“Quan and Payton both did very well last weekend, and of Marcus as well,” Merritt said. “We have almost everyone back from last year’s team, and they all played well at the tournament.”
While the Timberwolves are still months away from the start of official practices, Merritt is satisfied with how far his team has come in a short time.
“I couldn’t be any more pleased, really,” he said. “It couldn’t be any better considering everything. We’ve done as much as we could possibly do in three-and-a-half weeks.”
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