By P.J. Tracy
Kevin Alexander is excited about his new role as the Murfreesboro Rattlers boy’s basketball coach following his hire last week by the South Pike County School Board.
Alexander has spent the last eight years as coach of the highly successful Dierks Outlaws boys’ program, who won the district championship for five consecutive years through this past season and finished with a 25-6 record.
“I’m excited and ready to get started,” he said about his arrival, which will begin soon as the Rattlers will participate in an Ashdown team camp on June 1, the will hold a camp on the MHS campus on June 8-9 and then culminating with a camp at Lake Hamilton at the end of June.
As far as bringing his winning ways and some of the recent Outlaw magic to Murfreesboro, he definitively states “that’s the plan.”
“I really believe I will come over here and continue what coach [Tyler] Simmons has started and we will get better and better every year. Hopefully, we will win the district tournament next year — and I know Murfreesboro has not been to the state tournament.
“That was my goal at Dierks the first few years, and that will be the goal here, until we eventually get over that hump and start doing it every single year.”
Alexander lacks not in confidence, asked if the a state tournament bid was the goal next season.
“That’s always the goal,” he stated definitively. “I expect to be in the regional tournament, and then make it into the state tournament, whether you’ve had a great year or not.”
Alexander’s first year at Dierks was a 14-13 campaign, doubling their win total from the season previous.
Thanks to recent work by coach Simmons, who is headed to coach at Gravette, the amount of heavy lifting by Alexander is definitively lighter after Murfreesboro won 20 games last season.
“All the credit to coach Simmons, who has turned this program around in the past five seasons after inheriting a team that hadn’t won a game in two years prior to his arrival.”
Alexander then took the Outlaws to 19-14, and would follow with a run of state tournament appearances.
“By the fourth year we got over the hump and it changed our whole program. The kids expected to go to state, and when you start expecting that you start winning games you probably shouldn’t have, but you thought you were going to. Then when things didn’t go their way, they kept playing, and the won them, just plugging away.
“A bad quarter didn’t lead to a bad game.”
He said instilling that belief in the Murfreesboro program was critical.
“Believing that you were going to win that game, no matter how bad you played for a quarter or a half, is crucial.”
Before coaching, Alexander went to Umpire high school before graduating from Kirby before attending Henderson State University and graduating in 2008.
Now a veteran coach of 12 years, Alexander spent time at a Morrilton private school for a year (reaching the state semifinals, making him “hungry” for state competition), a junior high coach at Centerpoint for a year, then two years at Cossatot River before Dierks.
Now, he’s very happy to be a Rattler, and with no wife or kids, is intently ready to start focusing on the job.
“Being close to home is my number one priority, but actually it worked out perfectly being that I needed a job and Murfreesboro had an opening.
“Staying in this [7AA] conference is big, I don’t have to learn the teams, and I know most of the kids here at Murfreesboro. They will have to learn me, obviously, but going in I kinda know what to expect from them.”
In his time at Dierks, he personally held a 19-0 coaching record against the Rattlers, which he hopes to turn around beginning next season.
“I really expect to flip that … I have those two games circled and I hope that we flip it from 19-0 to Murfreesboro being 19-0. I’m ready to come here, get to work, get started. We’ll practice some this summer, just to get some of my stuff in, and I know that most of the kids play football, but the ones that don’t they will get started in August, but in the summer if I get the football kids some of what I do, they won’t come in and have to start anew in November.”