Rose settles in as new coach at Northwest
The winter break was a good time for several in the Shawnee Mission Northwest boys basketball program to catch a well-deserved breath — the head coach included.
Since taking over the reins of the team just two weeks before the season started, Cougar coach Mike Rose has hardly had time to check his watch, much less take stock of how he became Northwest’s bench leader. When former head coach Ben Meseke had to take an indefinite leave of absence due to health issues just before practice started, Rose hit the ground running as the new Cougar skipper with help from Meseke, who kept himself available as a valuable resource to Rose.
After the Cougars went 3-2 in their first five games, Rose welcomed the time away from games that the holiday break gave him and his team. It gave Rose not only some time to recharge his batteries, but time to get the smaller details about his job under control.
“I feel like I’m starting to get my feet underneath me,” said Rose after practice Monday night. “At first I was scrambling, but then you start to remember how to delegate things. I think that, when you’re a coach, you have a tendency to want to do too much. You have to know there will be people who can do the game films, fill in the scouting reports. There are people there to help you.
“The two-and-a-half hours that we spend between the lines on the court, that is what our bread and butter is when we’re coaching. It’s the other stuff that can be easy to fall behind on.”
Rose has found much to like and much to worry about with his 2009-2010 Cougars after the first five games. Like many Sunflower League coaches, Rose is looking for consistency with his team. That sometimes can be hard to find when you have faced as many different styles of basketball teams as the Cougars have faced this early in the season.
“I thought at moments we were pretty good and at other times we really struggled,” Rose said. “We’re still trying to find our identity and find what’s most effective for us. We’ve really played five different styles of basketball games and some teams have tried to slow us down, which we’ve struggled against. We’ve already seen a lot and we’ve played some pretty good basketball teams.”
During the winter break, Rose and his staff put an emphasis on defense during practices. For Rose, defense is a springboard to an offensive transition attack at which the Cougars have excelled this season. The Cougar staff has also drilled the offense on different paces of the game, getting their players to be ready to have 30- or 40-second possessions on offense if that’s what it takes to get the best shot. The Cougars will need all those phases of the game for a challenging January schedule that features not only the St. Thomas Aquinas Saints Classic, but also a predominance of road games.
“We have a lot of games on the road,” Rose stated. ‘We’ve got some tough games coming up. Every night we play some pretty good teams. We learned a lesson against Lawrence when they came and hadn’t won a game yet but gave us everything we wanted. That was a dogfight. After that, we know we have to stay mentally focused. If we don’t bring our ‘A game’ every night, we’ll be in trouble.”
Rose has the luxury of still having Meseke’s presence around. Although not at as many practices as he would like to be, Meseke — who took the Cougars to a fourth-place finish at state last year — has made every Cougar game thus far and has given Rose the perfect balance of valuable advice and unobtrusiveness.
“We communicate,” Rose said of Meseke. “Sometimes he feels like he’s interfering — which I completely disagree with. In fact, I called him last night to run some things by him about this week. I’m going to use his expertise as much as I can. He’s got his priorities, though, and he’ll take care of that first and foremost. He’ll look out for his family more than anything.”