NBA Legend and Hall of Famer
Join Date: Feb 2009
Re: anyone here coach?
Working on it. I guess by my age I should be done with school and coaching/teaching, but I had some things happen, and had to take a couple of years off from school. Anyway, sorry for the length of my post. Don't know how long it'll be, but I tend to ramble when it comes to talking about stuff like this.
In the meantime, I've been "volunteering" at my dad's school. He was the senior high head coach for about 10 years in the late 80s and 90s before retiring and just teaching. Before the 2010-2011 school year, though, the school district had to make budget cuts, which meant they had to fire some of the newer staff. One of those happened to be the boy's basketball coach who had only been there for one year. Which led to them asking my dad and another coach (guy who was the junior high coach at the same time my dad was the senior high coach) to takeover for a few years. It's a small 2A school in Arkansas, so the talent and athletes aren't the best.
Anyway, that first year ('10-'11) was a lot of fun. I was pretty quiet most of the time. Every once in awhile I would step in and say something or point something out and, if I saw something during the game I'd tell my dad or the player; but for the most part I kind of just sat back and observed. Didn't want to overstep my bounds. It was a very successful season. It's a school that hasn't had much basketball success (in boy's basketball) since my dad retired and, on top of that, they're in the same conference as two other non-football schools with a ton of basketball tradition. I don't know how this works in other states but, in Arkansas, the smallest classification is 1A and none of those schools have football; but in 2A and 3A there are a few non-football schools sprinkled in around the state which is a small unfair advantage to the other schools in the conference since they get their players in the gym all fall long, and get to start playing games about a month earlier.
Still, we got very luck that first year. We had 8 seniors and our top 6 didn't play football. They had gone undefeated in a very weak 3A conference the year before but, despite moving down to 2A, they were in a tougher basketball conference (much weaker in football, though). We were fortunate in that the seniors had a lot of experience, would be in the gym all fall during football season, and had some talented players. However, due to being on their 4th coach since 7th grade, they hadn't had any continuity in development, and were lacking in some of the most basic areas. We still proved to be the best team in the conference, though, going 11-1 in conference play with the only loss coming on the road by 4 to one of the non-football schools who finished second. As the old saying goes, though, "it's hard to teach an old dog new tricks" and it was very hard to break them of some of their bad habits in one season. Talent wise we were 15-20 points better than anyone in the conference, and proved it by beating the 2nd and 3rd place teams (again, the two non-football schools) by 20 and 30 points at home. Unfortunately County Line (second place team in the conference that we split with) were hosting the district tournament and we knew beating them in the district finals would be a very tough task. They're one of those schools who is known for getting good "home cooking" and they have very passionate fans. Still, midway through the 3rd quarter of the district finals, we had a 16 point lead on the host team. Unfortunately, things fell apart quickly. After a string of questionable calls and turnovers, our lead was down to 6 by the start of the 4th quarter, and we ended up losing by 3. That meant for the regional tournament we were on the same side of the bracket as the best team from the other conference in the region. And while we had gotten by on our talent and depth most of the season, we knew they were the one team in the region that matched our 8-deep rotation, and also had as much talent and more athleticism than we did. We lost a tough game in the regional semi-finals, and went into the state tournament as a 3-seed instead of a 1 or 2 seed.
At the end of the day, though, it was a successful season since it was the first time they made the state tournament in 25 years. My dad never had a boys team make the state tournament, partially because they used to only take the top two teams from the region then, and now they take the top four.
This past season, despite losing 8 seniors, we still ran through the conference undefeated in the regular season, although not as dominantly as the year before. We had our second best player from the season before back, and started 6'4" and 6'5" up front, which was a big advantage in a conference where everyone else started 6-footers inside. Got to the district tournament, though, and the night before our regional semi-final game our best big man got sick and couldn't play. Once again we were playing the host school who, despite finishing 4th in the conference, played us tough twice in the regular season and split with the 2nd and 3rd place teams. We got beat by one on a buzzer beater three. It was very heartbreaking. That loss meant we had to play the best team from the other conference in the 1st round of the regional tournament, which also meant that one of the two best teams in the region wouldn't make the state tournament. Our big kid was still out sick, and we had another starter hurt. We played them tough, but lost by about 8. In hindsight it was a successful season but, at the time, it was hard to see it that way.
To make a long story short, there was some very high highs and some very low lows the last two years. I learned a lot, got close to some of the kids, and it did nothing but reaffirm that coaching high school basketball is what I want to do. I mean I've had an idea I wanted to coach since I was like 13 or 14, but after these two seasons I can't see myself doing anything else.