By: Cole Shelton
Cavell Johnson is back.
Johnson, 33, is back as the head coach of the KW Titans for the upcoming season. Last year, the Titans had a tough season. However, after Johnson took over as head coach near the seasons end, the team started to look better.
Now, Johnson is entering his first full season as a head coach in the NBLC and knows it will be challenging. Challenge or not, Johnson is excited to lead the Titans day in and day out.
"Man, I'm just looking forward to building a culture and an atmosphere of my own, within our organization and our community," Johnson said in a recent phone interview. "It was still a difficult transition from player to coach. It was a challenge that I embraced."
Johnson for sure embraced the challenged.
With a full off-season of getting players that fit his system and a full training camp to coach them, Johnson is ready. He wants to fully install his defensive and offensive mentality, something he believes will make the Titans that much better.
"Just a take what I want mentality. Especially start on the defensive end on that approach," he said. "When you impose your will and impose yourselves as a collective unit as a defensive mindset and a defensive standpoint, it bleeds over to the offensive end. It bleeds over into the confidence on the offensive end of the floor."
If KW can do that, they should have no problem finding success this season. Part of the reason why is that the Titans have brought back their core group of guys. While adding players around them to make the team better, something that hopefully will pay off for KW.
"It will be great. We have a core group of guys that are dogs. They embody that winning mentality, that take what I want mindset to the game," Johnson said. "It'll show, it'll show for sure. To our new guys that are coming in, they will fall into place and fall into their roles and we will succeed as a unit."
Not only did Johnson bring guys in who are 'dogs,' he also brought guys in that have experience playing in the NBLC. Players who have played in the NBLC are so important to any team.
"Guys who know what it takes day in and day out in this league (are crucial). We have a very hectic schedule at times," the 33-year-old said. "To have veterans guys to keep the ship steady, and guys mental approach to the game strong and sharp is very important to building a successful team."
Not only did Johnson and KW bring back players who have played in the NBLC. Johnson himself played a few seasons in the league. The coach most recently played in the league last season, something that he expects will help him out in his first full year of coaching.
"It helps a lot. To be so recently removed, I am more sensitive to mindsets of the guys. I am more sensitive to the ailments of the guys, what goes on throughout the season," Johnson said. "I have a closer finger to the pulse. I will stay keep myself removed as a coach and allow my veterans and captains of the team to be that bridge and liaison to the team. But, being so closely removed I have a strong feel for the atmosphere to the team."
With the core group of players locked down, Johnson went ahead and decided to look for players who fit his system. They may be rookies, experienced overseas veterans or wherever, but Johnson was looking for one thing when he was recruiting players to play for the Titans.
"First and foremost, guys that are dogs. They have a defensive minded approach to controlling the guy in front of them. My core guys, I have been very well of their strengths, offensively and defensively," he added. "The offensive stuff takes care of itself. You have skilled guys who can shoot that are more proficient ball handlers and IQ guys who are creating for others. I fill that in, along with that defensive mindset."
Johnson is ready to coach his first full season in the NBLC, and after a tough season last year for the Titans, he knows winning has to happen. Many will say the Titans will struggle just like last season, and they will remember how bad things went the year prior, but Johnson isn't buying any of that.
"We have already moved one from it, that's the thing. We don't think about last year. We start new when we start training camp," he said.
With the Titans new and improved, and with Johnson at the helm, the goal is simple. They must show the league and their fans just how good this team is.
"I wanna win," said Johnson. "There is no other option. We gotta win, I wanna win games, I wanna make the playoffs and I wanna make noise in the playoffs. I want this region, the KW region to be proud of the product they see on the floor every night, and I want these guys to enjoy being successful."
Johnson and the Titans are full of confidence ahead the season, and that is only a good thing. Once the season starts, they just have to prove it on the court.