09/08/06 — Crumpler, Royal assume SW basketball posts

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Crumpler, Royal assume SW basketball posts

By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on September 8, 2006 2:16 PM

DUDLEY -- In various ways, Russell Royal and Chuck Crumpler are quite familiar with the basketball sideline.

An Oklahoma native, Royal played and later served as an assistant under Bill Clingan at Mount Olive from 2002-2006. Royal assisted the Trojans NCAA Division II Elite Eight team in 2005 and helped guide MOC to the East Regional last year.

Crumpler, a Southern Wayne graduate, has served as an assistant for the Saints' varsity girls team and assisted the boys program at Parrott Academy before coming back to his alma-mater.

But now, both have programs of their own as Royal was named the Southern Wayne boys coach, while Crumpler will direct the Lady Saints. Both take over for coaches that served two-year stints -- Mike Connelley (boys) and Sally Combs (girls).

"It's going to be a new experience after being an assistant at Mount Olive ... different as far as the daily routine, practices and game prep," Royal said. "The individual workouts will help me get to know the team better, so I'll know which way to go when team practice officially starts. I don't think it will be too much of an adjustment. It won't be as many reps and drills as college, but the pace and intensity will be the same."

Royal inherits a team that lost all five starters and nine seniors overall to graduation, including the 2005 News-Argus Co-Players of the year -- Akeem Royal and Delawn Armwood. John Hart, a reserve last year, and JV standout, Paris Armwood, will look to help Southern Wayne defend its Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference regular season and tournament championships.

"It's pressure. I knew that during the interview process," Royal said. But it's a good pressure, because it will make me stay on my toes even more than I would have. We have to be prepared for every game, especially coming off of last season."

Royal, who will also coach boy's golf in the spring, will be assisted by Sam Robinson and Dwight Smith.

Crumpler takes over a team with more experience as Lynn Grantham and Ebony Darden return for their senior campaigns, while Shakoria Clark is back as a junior. Lynnesha Leonard is only a sophomore but showed plenty of promise as a freshman at the varsity level.

"We've got a good nucleus that have been here since they were freshman," Crumpler said. "I'm familiar and know the girls that are here. I'm already looking forward to this year and know we will be alright."

He praised the effort of assistant Ricky Lofton, who worked with the team this summer while Crumpler was an assistant on the Wayne County Junior Legion baseball team.

"Ricky helped out a lot this summer," said Crumpler, also the boys and girls cross country head coach and a varsity baseball assistant. "He worked with them in the gym and in the weight room, so he deserves a lot of credit."