Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Laney Opens with Nationally Ranked St. Francis

Laney's head coach Buck Harris has been the favorite coach of many players during the past few decades.  He is certainly mine.  One of the best things about my time not coaching will be the chance to follow his Wildcats through the 2014-15 season.  And Buck's guys are positioned to have a memorable one!

The Suwanne based website hoopseen.com chose Laney as its favorite to win the AAA state title, and it named senior guard Jashawn Brooks as one of the five players most likely to win the AAA state player of the year.  The Wildcats will be tested early when they visit St Francis, maxpreps.com 's 21st ranked (nationally) team this Saturday.

This is Buck's second season as Laney's head coach.  The Wildcats have reached the state semifinals five consecutive seasons, winning the state championship in 2012.  Buck was the assistant coach for three seasons prior to becoming head coach last season.  And he spent over 15 years coaching college basketball prior to that.  He has firmly put his mark on his program.  He has taught his players to play hard, play smart, and play together, which is much easier said than done.  I recently popped into a Laney practice and I'll share some written and visual (video) notes that shed light on Buck's coaching style, which has had great results:

- Laney's practice was super competitive.  Games had winners and losers, time and score was always kept on the scoreboard and verbally by coaches and players.

- Speaking of players being verbal, I've never seen as much (purposeful!) talk on defense by a high school team.

- So impressed with the aggressive ball pressure and the readiness of help defenders to make up for a guy being beaten off the dribble.

- I think Coach K said something like "you are what you repeatedly do under pressure."  In other words if something is not a habit, don't expect it to be able to be called upon when the pressure is on.  These are the defensive habits that stood out to me:

  1. Talk!
  2. Talk to the on ball defender to let him know you have his back
  3. Pressure the dribbler
  4. Help when the on ball defender gets beat and force the kick out
  5. Respond quickly to the kick out and help the helper if he gets beat
  6. Get to the line of the ball, especially on a baseline drive
  7. Be in the paint (sprint to it if you aren't there!) when your man is two passes away
  8. Box out and rebound and go!
Here is a visual showing these habits being developed.

- Competitive 3 on 3 and 4 on 4 work puts pressure on defense because there is so much space.  With all the ball pressure guys are constantly being beaten.  Communication, help and hustle are the only ways to survive defensively.

-  3 on 3 and 4 on 4 games also help develop offensive skills.  Everybody gets lots of touches and opportunities to make things happen off the bounce.

- Sometimes high school teams aren't very deep (not so with Laney).  So 3 on 3 and 4 on 4 games help by putting the teams best 6 or 8 players against each other at one time.  Guys get practice going against high school starters every possession every day.

- Needless to say, Laney's players are split up "evenly" and not by "first team versus second team" action.  I am a big fan of this.

I'll be in the gym Saturday for Laney's opener versus St. Francis.  Stay tuned for updates!

***Here are some related posts from the past about Laney***

July 11, 2014
Brooks, Taylor, and Walker: ABR Live Summer Send-off

Nov 25, 2013
Laney and Aquinas Open Season with a Statement

March 15, 2012
Laney Makes History


  1. What an amazing story Chad and the film and narration are perfect. Coach Buck is awesome!

  2. Yes he is. Made writing and editing this easy. I was only at his practice for about 30 minutes. And I basically used all the footage I shot because there are so many good things happening on almost every possession.