"It's rare, No. 1, and it's a feeling that you don't like to feel, but as our season progressed you could see what direction it was going in. It wasn't lack of effort. We had some kids that we lost after Christmas, and then it all kind of fell on Talique's [Cochran] shoulders and some of our other kids just didn't have the type of years that they are capable of having," Godfrey said. "It just snowballed and that combination, it sends you home early. But again, it wasn't for lack of effort, it was just lack of executing and just shooting the basketball."
History may bode well for the purple-clad team, though. The last time a Godfrey-led team missed out on the postseason -- in 2008-09 -- it rebounded to make the playoffs the following year. The Purple Hurricanes hope to experience a similar feat.
"We feel good. We got a combination of youth and some senior leadership and we're very quick so we're gonna, obviously, go up and down the floor with it, but we feel like we can pressure a lot of people with our defense and turn that into our offense," Godfrey said. "And in practice we've been shooting the ball extremely well so we've got some good shooters. I just feel like with our quickness and speed ... I feel like with that combination -- if our kids have the type of year they're capable [of having] -- I think we'll be right back there [in the playoffs]."
In order to position itself for the playoffs, Cartersville must improve in late-game situations. The Canes defied conventional wisdom last year in that they played in many more tight games than one would expect from a 4-17 team. But, as their mark illustrates, they did not win enough of those games. Cartersville went 3-9 in games decided by single digits and enjoyed its last such victory on Jan. 19 -- a 65-63 win over Region 7-AAA opponent Gilmer -- before losing 10 straight games to close the season, with six of those decided by nine points or less.
"We never did get a break and, of course, you gotta create your opportunities and breaks but still yet it seemed like if it could have gone wrong, a certain play, it went against us," Godfrey said. "It happens. It hasn't happened often in my career but it happens, and it was just a year where not very many things went right and most things went wrong."
If the Canes happen to take steps toward becoming a better finishing team, they will do so without one critical ingredient -- Cochran, whose play often kept the team in many ball games. It might not take much to replace Cochran's 11.2 points but the all-county selection also led Cartersville in rebounds (8), steals (5) and assists (3.2) per game, and his leadership will not be easily duplicated.
"He's probably the best competitor that I've coached in 33 years. Gosh, he competes," Godfrey said.
Godfrey believes, however, that the players are in place for the Canes to sustain the graduation and loss of Cochran. Cartersville returns seven players with experience from last season, including starter Devin O'Connor. Cass transfer Elijah Windom, who also played for the Canes football team, gives the team another veteran presence.
"Our approach this year, we've got eight or nine kids, 10, we feel like we can use. Our approach is really we're just a group of guys playing; we're not starting, worried about starting groups or anything," he continued.
While that may be the case, the Cartersville coach did not downplay the impact that having J.R. Davis, who missed the second half of last season, will have on his team.
"We didn't have J.R. Davis those 12 games. You figure with J.R. ... we'd have won, maybe, eight of those 12 because he's good for anywhere from 15 to 25 points," Godfrey said. "I think he's gonna set up a lot of things 'cause he can penetrate and kick it and he can also score it. And last year they were able to double- and triple-[team] Talique, and this year if they want to double [Davis], we got other kids ... that can take up the slack."
"And then also I feel like O'Connor and [Dalvin] Penn inside, I feel like can really do a good job for us in the post and give us some points in there we were missing last year. I think they're gonna step it up," he added, noting that the Canes have switched to a 4-Out, 1-In offense that will feature just one post player. "I think O'Connor will really step up and have the type of year he's capable of having. We need him as a senior, him and J.R., and we got some unselfish kids ... So far, this group is really moving the basketball without dribbling. The ball movement has been really good. If they keep the ball movement up like they're doing, we're gonna get some great looks and great shots and I think some good things are gonna happen."
Godfrey cautioned that Cartersville is a work in progress, but he is anxious to see where the team will be come February.
"We should be motivated, especially the kids coming back, because last year was not very fun," he said.
The Canes begin their season today with a home game against Gordon Central. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Cartersville Boys Roster
0 Tavaris Brown 11 5'11"
3 J.R. Davis 12 5'8"
5 T.L. Ford 10 6'2"
10 Kevan Washington12 6'0"
12 Elijah Windom 12 6'0"
14 Ryan Davis 10 6'0"
20 Christian Demastus10 6'2"
22 A.J. Mosby 10 6'0"
24 B.J. Gordon 11 6'1"
30 Keith Gamble 12 5'11"
32 LaTerry Hardy 12 5'10"
40 Hunter Myrick 12 6'2"
42 Devin O'Connor 12 6'3"
44 Dalven Penn 11 6'4"
Cartersville Boys Schedule
Nov. 29 Gordon Central Home 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 2 Dalton Home 8:30 p.m.
Dec. 3 Cass Away 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 10 Dalton Away 4:30 p.m.
Dec. 15-20 Holiday Festival Berry/Georgia Highlands TBA
Jan. 6 Cedartown Home 8:30 p.m.
Jan. 10 Gilmer Home 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 13 Allatoona Home 8:30 p.m.
Jan. 17 Murray County Away 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 20 Pickens Home 8:30 p.m.
Jan. 21 Calhoun Home 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 24 Cedartown Away 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 27 Gilmer Away 8:30 p.m.
Jan. 31 Allatoona Away 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 3 Murray County Home 8:30 p.m.
Feb. 4 Cass Home 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 7 Pickens Away 7:30 p.m.