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Anderson seeks all-around game

Oppose Rod Anderson in a game of Around The World and he'll zip through the five continents before you've had a chance to pack.

But Around The World is simply a game of shooting the basketball from different spots.

And while Anderson can certainly shoot _ and sending the basketball through the hoop is basic to winning _ there is more. Ask any owner of a clipboard and whistle. They'll tell you: To win in basketball, you need defense, passing, rebounding, teamwork and shooting.

Anderson, 6-feet-3, did not always follow those rules. If he can pop in a three-pointer now and then, can't someone else take care of the other stuff? Rudy Coffin, who carries his clipboard and whistle into the Clearwater High gym for practice, had an answer for Anderson:

Sit down.

Anderson, now a junior at Clearwater and one of the county's leading scorers, did not play as much as was planned last year. He had transferred from East Lake, where he started on the varsity his freshman year. But his sophomore year proved a tough transition.

"He was up and down," Coffin said. "He had sporadic moments last year; a lot of promising moments, but they weren't very consistent.

"He's 100 percent better than last year. He's much more consistent. Last year, he missed five games. This year, he hasn't missed a practice. Last year, Rod played just because he liked to play basketball. He's still having fun, but he'd like to go to college to play basketball."

Anderson quickly points out: "I had a bad year last year the thing I'm working at most is my defense. I feel I got the shooting, but I have to work harder, trying to be the best defensive player I can be."

Anderson is improving, and he is still scoring. Clearwater's offense is based on its fast-breaking tempo. When the Tornadoes are forced into a half-court, slower offense, Anderson is Clearwater's biggest threat to score.

"He knows he's kind of a marked man," Coffin said.

Anderson, who has an 18.9-point average, began this year in similar fashion as last year. He showed signs of brilliance, and of inconsistency. Anderson struggled up to last month. In the Tornadoes' overtime win over St. Petersburg, Anderson was sluggish (six points) and sat out the second half and the overtime period.

"I was upset and wanted to talk to Coach Coffin," Anderson said. "We had a good talk the next day after school. It got my mind focused on what I need to do. Dixie Hollins was the next game."

Against Dixie, then the conference leader, Anderson scored 28 points in a Clearwater win. He followed with 29 points against Clearwater Central Catholic and 33 versus rival Dunedin.

Anderson's points aren't solely from jump shots; he's driving more and becoming a vital part of Clearwater's fastbreak.

"He's never had a problem shooting the ball and making it go into the basket," Coffin said. "It's the other part of his game and playing the team concept that's making him a team player."

And with a better Anderson, Clearwater is a better team. The Tornadoes, who have a shot at making the state tournament, will get a look tonight at another fellow Class 4A member, Boca Ciega. The game begins about 8 p.m. in the Pirates' gym.