Archive for Thursday, December 14, 2006

Smith brings banging style to hardcourt

December 14, 2006

De Soto senior Jordan Smith is a part of the problem.

That's not to say the Wildcats' 5-foot-11 -- OK, 5-10 -- "forward" is bad news for the basketball team. Fresh off an outstanding football season and numerous all-area and all-league honors, Smith brings an up-tempo approach perfect for an up-tempo team, coach Jim Bonar said.

But that the first-team all-league defensive lineman weighing in at 160 pounds and reaching his listed height only when wearing big shoes was immediately slotted as a varsity forward -- that's part of the reason the Cats are running so much this season.

"It doesn't give their team the time to set up, so I'm not down there trying to match up with their big guys," Smith said. "It's a big change because I played guard at my old school."

A change that, so far, has helped Smith contribute.

De Soto's fast pace focuses more on racking up turnovers in the full court trap than it does out-muscling undoubtedly taller opponents on the block, and it's one that happens to suit Smith very well.

A basketball player during his freshman and sophomore seasons at a Cedar Falls, Iowa high school, Smith didn't initially continue with the sport when he transferred in as a junior at De Soto last fall.

Rather, he spent last winter -- and all summer, for that matter -- hitting the weights.

It paid off.

When football came around, Smith became a star.

He was ninth on the team with 32 tackles in 2005, logging one interception and no sacks. He actually had fewer tackles in 2006 as he went from linebacker to lineman, but notched two tackles for loss and seven sacks, two more than any other Cat had in 2006.

"Last year I got bored because I wasn't doing anything (after football)," Smith said. "I realized I had missed it too much, so I decided to go out again."

Bonar said Smith has been able to find a place on the basketball court not because of his ability to squeeze between two offensive linemen and wrestle down the quarterback, but rather because of his never-stop attitude.

"Jordan brings no fear to the game," Bonar said. "His body will hit something, be it your guy or their guy or the bench or the floor -- people know when he's on the court. He plays with a reckless abandon."

He gets physical enough to make up for his lack of size when he must, but otherwise strives to do the small things to help the team out.

He's struggled to get on the scoreboard thus far this season, but scored four points in Saturday's win against Olathe Christian. More importantly, he brings something different to the team, Bonar said.

"He was gone a few days with a shoulder problem and our intensity level at practice just dropped down," Bonar said. "I couldn't figure it out, but it's because he makes the guys work as hard as he is."

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