The Long Beach Poly boys’ basketball team isn’t big on the roster this year, but they talk a big game on the floor — and the Jackrabbits back it up, too. The guard-heavy Poly (9-4, 1-0) squad will run the “Lamborghini offense” this year, using quick and aggressive guards — all five of whom can shoot — to put pressure on opposing defenses.
They’ll also do everything they can defensively to get their opponents off-balance, emotionally.
“We’re so small we have to play with an attitude like that,” Poly coach Shelton Diggs said. “We’re gonna be fast and aggressive and try to harass people.”
They’ll have to. Poly’s five starters run between 5’10” and 6’4”, making it the shortest Poly starting lineup and overall roster in at least 50 years, according to longtime Poly videographer and historian John Gean. What Poly lacks in size it makes up for in speed and shooting ability.
Darryl Polk leads the way as a quick, aggressive point guard who can shoot, drive, and pass at a high level. His fellow backcourt-mate is Jesse Galloway, also a speedy guard with a reliable shot.
Justin Rene has been the team’s leading scorer, a junior with a sweet shot who also will be asked to rebound at 6’3”.
“Justin’s been growing in the program,” Diggs said. “It’s Poly, you’ve got to wait your turn, and he did that.”
Giordan Williams is another rising junior for the ‘Rabbits who plays the wing alongside Rene. The wild card is 6’2” Malik Salahuddin, who will be the clean-up man for Poly, going for rebounds, loose balls, and often playing perimeter defense on the opponents’ best player.
Poly is looking for a Moore League-record ninth consecutive league title and started off that hunt on the right foot against Compton, leading by 31 points late in the fourth quarter before winning 81-58.
Poly is ranked No. 9 in the CIF-SS Division 1 poll, and with an expected eight-team Open Division, that could put the Jackrabbits in a high seed for the Division 1 playoffs. All that will remain to be seen — for now, Poly will try to get out quick and stay in front of the competition.
“That’s going to be Poly basketball this year,” Diggs said. “Fast and aggressive.”