We are now three quarters through the season. I realize just how time consuming it is to coach a high school basketball team, have an engineering job and still have all of life's chores to keep. If you follow this blog, you notice that I haven't been writing as much since the season started. I would also say that the time commitment has been worth it. I see the great privilege I have to teach, encourage and lead these fine young men. They are some of the best that any man could ever want as a son. Many of them are high caliber basketball players and all have worked very hard to improve on their skills. I see them becoming men of God who can impact and lead in this world. As a coach I hope that I can impart whatever has been given to me from God and other men who have impacted my life. I also hope I don't blow it as I feel the great responsibility of this position.
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.
I can't say enough about the assistant coaches I have working with me. Mark and Bruce are the highest quality of Godly men who keep me grounded and humble. Beyond that I can think of many times when their basketball input was invaluable. Bruce came up with the defensive scheme that helped us take on one of the top teams in this area and kept us close the whole way. Mark once spotted that a team's press was focused too much on the middle of the court and the sidelines were wide open. Stuff like that can elude me and they have the insight to countless occurences that helped the team. More than anything, I feel like we're on the same page with what we want to accomplish with the team. Leading them to see teamwork, hard work, fighting through adversity and winning shows the characteristics that God desires for the team to have in life. I am deeply indebted to these men for the help, wisdom and friendship.
Looking back in life, I see that one thing that I like to do is be analytical when it comes to watching sports. Perhaps it's because I was mostly a bench warmer or perhaps it has to do with my "geeky" side. Anyway, I find myself very much alive during the games. Seeing things and figuring out how best to get the most out of the team is really invigorating. I also love seeing the team succeed. It's funny, my competitive side is really strong, but I'm more passionate about the boys being able to succeed than just getting the win. I want so bad for them to get the taste of victory that comes from working hard as a team.
Running Rick Torbett's Read And React offense continues to amaze me. I continue to get compliments about how the offense flows. When it works and the team runs it well, it's a beautiful thing to behold. It's a scheme that can't be scouted and works well against all defenses. After two seasons, I think we're getting more and more into it. I realize that it requires a lot of conditioning to run this. With comfortability I hope that we can learn to outwork the opposition and hunt for those scoring chances. My secret hope is to see multiple staggered screens come to fruition. Then I'll be a little kid again watching Rick Barry at Oracle Arena.
We now have installed four defenses. We have the standard 2-3 zone that work well against bigger teams. I maybe too stubborn to use it a lot. Perhaps it's so familiar I want to give the team's a different look. The chaser is something I really enjoy watching. It confuses teams and can really be effective. It's a matchup zone that requires an long athletic "chaser". I'm so glad we have two players who fit that role well. I'm surprised that we have been very effective in man to man. Considering the team's youth and relative lack of size, we have done quite well in it. I use it a lot more than I expected. It just goes to show how mature our team has become. We just added a half court trap. Right now, it's a work in progress. I think I need some tweaks to get it to work better. My hope is that this can work well when we're down and also get us some momentum at times.
Our practices were getting stale (as they usually do during the season). I'm so glad I read up on some coaches boards as one gave me the great idea of making practices a competition. Keeping score of each drill has taken the intensity and focus to a new level. I've even said the team that "wins" the practice is the starting team for the next game. Competition is in a man's DNA. It just took one tweak to bring it out and give our practices the next level of intensity that I was looking for. Nice to see the team completely gassed after a practice. I'm hoping they will see there's always a next level to achieve.
Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them.
Friday was perhaps a significant day for team team. We played Christian Academy of Knoxville which is ranked number 6 in East Tennessee. They have two players who have Division 1 scholarships and their best player is an underclassman. They have first class facilities and it was senior night. Considering we have a a small talent pool, no facilities and an all volunteer staff, games like this one can become embarrassing very fast. Not so tonight. We had the lead at the half. It was close for most of the third quarter. The coach tried at least four different defenses to stop us. I could tell the home crowd was very concerned. Sadly, they did wear us down and we ended up losing. But we gained so much more: we earned the respect of everybody in that gym; we proved to ourselves that we belong with one of the best in the area; and we do have a next level that we can achieve. I can never say I'm glad we lost a game, but it was something to behold knowing what we proved. It's like the first Rocky movie: he loses the fight but wins something deeper and more gratifying. I even got a my fan boy moment when Atlee Hammaker (former San Francisco Giants pitcher) took the time to come up to me to say how impressed he was with the team. I count that as a little gift from God that would mean something to me.
We are 10-20 right now but take away losses to the 2A and private schools and we're very close to .500. We are ranked #10 in the Southeast for home school programs! With four sophomore, five juniors and one senior, the future is bright!