Coaches, players excited for new varsity basketball season

Lucy Cook Sports Editor

Warming up before the game with Omaha Buena Vista, senior Xavier Howard practices his layups. Chieftains won 69-20 Photo by Grace Walter

It’s the fourth period with the clock ticking down, tempting senior Eli Robinson to make a basket. 10, 9, 8… Robinson doesn’t have much time left. There is no sound, it just feels like the world’s volume was turned off. 7, 6, 5… Eli releases the ball in hopes of a basket. 4, 3, 2, 1, BUZZ… and it’s a basket! East won!

Like many sports, basketball is very competitive and coaches want to have the best of the best on their team. The players that will help win games and find the right players may be hard to find.

“We look for a lot of things in our athletes. There are measurables like how tall they are or how high they can jump or how fast they can run. We look at their skill level and how it compares to what position they would play for us. There are also intangibles like Basketball IQ, Play making, work ethic, leadership skills, and attention to detail that come into play,” Head varsity basketball coach Chad Mustard said. “And then there are also things we take into consideration when forming our teams like grades and citizenship (behavior in school). Ideally, we find players that are great in all areas, but that is not always the case.”

It’s even harder when coaches have more guys trying out for basketball. With a lot of people to choose from, tough decisions must be made.

“Every decision to cut a player is difficult. We wish we could keep everyone and give them all an opportunity to play. Unfortunately, that is not the case,” Mustard said. “Our job is to choose the players for our rosters that give their teams the best chance to have success during the season. It’s hard to disappoint players who don’t make it, but we give them all an honest evaluation of their tryout performances and strengths and weaknesses so that they know exactly where they stand.”

The last season was in the past, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be helpful for the next. Coaches and players both can benefit from learning from mistakes made and improve on them.

“Last season we played a lot of close games, but didn’t quite have the focus and attention to detail needed to finish games and have success in crunch time,” Mustard said. “This year I think we have guys that have poured a lot into the game and are ready to get over the hump. There will still be some struggles as we have a fairly young group, but overall I’m excited about the upcoming season.”

Even though the season has just started, there are things that the team learned from last season that they can improve on. Learning from mistakes can help improve games and the overall season.

“I’ve learned a lot from last season. I just need to be more aggressive. I feel like that will translate in any category, just being aggressive,” Robinson said. “For our team, I think we really have to rely on our speed and IQ to help us win games ‘cause we don’t have very big games, and our bigs are not that huge either. So I think we have to play smart and be effective with everything that we do.”

 A new season is a fresh start for both players and coaches. And making relationships is also important.

“Every season is a new learning experience. Last year we struggled to score the ball, so we spent a lot of time in the offseason shooting and finishing around the rim,” Mustard said. “We evaluate the talent on our roster and work to maximize it by playing to our players’ strengths while improving upon their weaknesses. That is a huge part of planning practices and making game plans.”

 Communication is also very important for a team. This helps everyone stay on the same page and understand what is happening.

“Communication is definitely the most important because if me and my team communicate I know and they know that there is help when something goes bad,” sophomore Trey Tolbert said. “I can improve this season by keep using my off hand and getting better at driving with contact and communication.”