New Maranatha boys coach emphasizes fundamentals as keys to basketball success
He may have the look of a young pup, but he has the coachspeak of an old salt.
Tavis Hackathorn, 23, debuted last week as the new Maranatha Academy boys basketball coach and ran the team tryouts and first week of practice with an eye on fundamentals. In nearly every aspect of the team approach this season, Hackathorn is pushing the basics and vying to create a squad that is fundamentally sound.
It began for the first-year head coach Nov. 21.
“We had 28 players come out, so we’re going to be able to have a full freshman/sophomore team,” Hackathorn said. “We spent the first three days on tryouts and then a lot of time laying down the fundamentals — putting in our base offense and defense.”
Hackathorn kept 10 players for the Eagles’ varsity squad with three starters returning from Doug Rader’s team of last season. About half of the 2010-11 letter-winners return to Maranatha this season, including five seniors. Having that senior leadership in place has been a boon for Hackathorn.
“We have five seniors, so that’s nice for a first-year coach,” Hackathorn said. “They’re ready to work hard and make the most of their senior year and push each other hard. Robby Thomas (senior forward) is an example of that. He’s someone who makes sure everyone’s doing what they’re supposed to do to get better.”
Hackathorn, a graduate of Mill Valley High School, plans on having the 2011-12 Eagles playing plenty of man-to-man, high-pressure defense. Hackathorn’s defense is designed to cause turnovers and to create Maranatha buckets in transition. In order to make that happen, however, he needs to be able to rely on his players to know where to be on the floor.
“We need to make sure people are in the right spots,” Hackathorn stated. “We need to make sure everyone is disciplined and filling lanes.”
This time last year, Hackathorn was teaching and coaching at the middle school level in Pleasant Hill, Mo. A year later and still not quite in his mid-20s, Hackathorn takes over as the head coach at a Class 2A high school. Asked if his age or lack of high school experience has been an issue, Hackathorn again took time to praise his senior leaders.
“It’s not really a big deal,” Hackathorn said. “I could see where it might be more of an internal issue with my team and my authority, but having those seniors who have really provided leadership makes it a little easier.”
The Eagles will open the season Dec. 1 at Immaculata, so Hackathorn had a lot of basketball to teach his charges in the two weeks before opening night. Keeping to his mantra, Hackathorn painted a clear, but plain, picture of what he wanted to see on that first Thursday night of practice.
“We just want to make sure we have our base stuff in,” he said. “We want to be doing the little things right at the beginning of the year. We’re going to push up and down the court, but be disciplined. We’ll make sure we box out and play defense. We’ll emphasize the fundamentals.”