With 4 weeks of pre-season completed, I can say that I am pleased with the direction of the program. On and off the court the boys have been excelling, and it’s being met with many compliments by both staff and students. Plus, as a coaching staff, we are seeing far more positives, than negatives.
Academically, we instituted a study hall program from 3pm-4:15pm, Monday–Thursday. The purpose is to make sure our student-athletes get off to a strong start academically, complete assignments, and keep their GPA high enough to meet NCAA standards. Thus far, the results have been strong. The majority of the team has A’s and B’s, and their are little to no D’s or F’s. In addition, the students that are completing assignments are helping out the students that may be struggling in a similar subject. The other benefit is that the players can go see teachers for tutoring, test make ups, or for answers to general homework questions. The boys have done a great job taking advantage of study hall.
Strength and conditioning is a big part of what our players need, in order to play the game the way we need it to be played. Coach Decker (strength coach) and I have worked hard putting together a solid program for the development of these areas for the players. Monday–Friday, the team is in Advanced PE, first period, where they have a basketball specific weight program. The program is set up to prepare them for our running and pressing style of play, that requires explosive stamina. Coach Decker created the program so the boys can get stronger and condition at the same time. After study hall, the staff and I take the boys out on to the track to work on running strength and stamina. The guys complete a series of sprints or laps, which are timed and tracked for improvement each week. For many of them, this was completely new to them, and there were quite a few struggles. However, as time has gone on, they are getting better; and their stamina and speed improving. Each week we are seeing players lift more weight, gain more muscle, and drop times in their running. All of these are marked improvement from the start of the fall workouts.
Skills and drills are a critical part of any good off-season. Not to mention, the guys want to touch the basketball after a long hard day of academics and physical training. When we’re in the gym, we balance between individual and team developmental skills and drills. Our 3 E’s mantra; Energy, Effort and Execution are at the fore-front, and the team has done a great job putting those concepts on display. Effort was one of the biggest issues when I took over, but is now a strength. The effort by each player is always at the max, and it sets the tone for the level of play in the gym. On the same token, there is a ton of energy in our practices. Practices are extremely competitive, and as a result, the energy level in the gym is on high constantly. Players are talking, clapping for one another, and getting after each other. Ball handling, shooting, defense and rebounding are improving each day, and the boys are all seeing growth in their skills. At the same time, we are getting better as a team. The development has helped our chemistry continue to get better, which should translate into more consistency on both ends of the floor.
There is no doubt that the culture has changed. The team has made considerable strides sense we took over the program. With each day we grow closer and stronger, and through that, we will be a better team and program. I expect big things from the boys, and our current progress supports my expectations.
Coach D. Eason