Sunday, February 1, 2015

Laney vs Butler: Game Report; plus a special look at coach Buck Harris

To say Laney's Buck Harris is a great coach who gets the most out of his players would be to state the obvious and fall short of properly explaining a key reason behind his team's exceptional accomplishments.  I've been guilty of using such generalities in explaining Laney's greatness.  "Laney plays hard," or even "Laney plays much harder than its opponents" may have been sufficient explanations when the Wildcats shocked us all in November and December with wins over a who's who list of traditional peach state powerhouses.   But a key reason for Laney's 22 game winning streak, not to mention the fact that since its season opening loss at St. Francis no team besides Morgan County (on November 29) has even seriously threatened a Wildcat lead in the final two minutes of a game, deserves a more complete telling.

Senior Jashawn Brooks and his Laney teammates
have learned how to compete and win 
The game's greatest minds, from Roy Williams to Jay Bilas and countless others, identify having a heightened "sense of urgency" as a prerequisite for success.  Installing such a habit in teenagers is much easier said than done.  In doing this, Harris is a world class teacher.  I know.  I am a student of his.  I was reminded of that when Buck walked past me along the baseline after his players had taken the court before Laney's showdown at Butler Saturday, one of the biggest games our area has witnessed.  With his own sense of urgency, Buck shouted his customary "What's up, Cook!?" greeting.  I'm sure he meant what he said, a simple hello.  And I realize what I will share seems unreasonable.  But in that moment I flashed back to my playing days when he taught me to compete.  And to have a sense of urgency.  I began questioning myself.  Was I right to skip Laney's recent games against Buford, Glenn Hills, Westside, and Hephzibah?  Was Buck sending me a hidden message?:  "If you are going to write a blog about basketball in Augusta, what the hell are you doing skipping the games of (maybe) the best high school team our city has ever seen?"  It is fair to say he instantly raised my sense of urgency.  Almost certainly without trying.  Buck does that.

So it is easy for me to imagine his players habitually being prepared to give maximum effort during practices; behaving in a reputable manner at school; and not only accepting but cherishing their roles as members of a truly special team.  And will they get on the floor for a loose ball?  Please!  These are not the normal habits of teenage basketball players.  Hall of fame coaches like Roy Williams struggle to get the most dedicated young adults on basketball earth to approach their craft in the manner Buck so consistently draws out of the young men he teaches.  And like Williams points out in this article, which attempts to define what having a "sense of urgency" means to him, the concept goes much deeper than the sprinting and diving on the floor that passes for playing hard.

Because most teams do not play hard, a team can be good by simply sprinting and diving.  I have seen a few good teams this season.  But the sense of urgency that Williams describes, and Harris teaches, separates great teams from good ones.  Laney is great.  And the ability to instill in young people that sense of urgency separates great coaches from good ones.  Buck Harris is a great coach.  One who compares favorably even to the Roy Williams types.  I know from experience.

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

Laney has a rich basketball tradition.  And coach Buck Harris is a longtime friend.  Here are some past posts and articles about the Laney Wildcats:

January 18, 2015
Laney is halfway through another mini obstacle course

January 11, 2015
Laney defeats Butler to in "instant classic" to stay undefeated in region play

January 7, 2015
Region Race 2015 (episode 2)... plus a look at "Class 3A Week"

January 6, 2015
Laney starts its most difficult (and exciting) week of the season

Dec 25, 2014
The full gyms at Laney's games remind me of something

Dec 16, 2014
Laney hustles its way to another huge win

Dec 9, 2014
Laney's Secret Sauce:  Playing Harder (Easier said than done)

Dec 1, 2014
Laney Beats Morgan County at Home

Nov 24, 2014
Friday at the Will Avery Tip-Off Tournament

Nov 16, 2014
Laney falls short in season opening thriller

Nov 11, 2014
Laney Opens Season with Nationally Ranked St. Francis

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

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