Indians basketball team uses break to feed post, get healthy
Though there was time for mistletoe and holiday meals, the winter break also gave the Shawnee Mission North boys basketball team time to improve and time to heal.
After beginning the season with back-to-back wins, the Indians suffered three consecutive defeats heading into the winter break. Still, North had been competitive in each of those defeats, never losing by more than six points. For North head coach B.J. Hair, that meant that the holiday practice sessions could be an opportunity for improvement and a chance to reverse those fortunes during close games in January and February.
Before heading into those future competitions, though, Hair wanted to reinforce his team’s defensive set.
“We tried to divide it (winter break practices) up into different focuses,” said Hair. “We started with a breakdown of individual skills in defense, including defensive stance and one-on-one defending. Then we looked at where we had individual breakdowns in game film and worked on how to correct them. Then we focused on team defense.”
Hair also worked on a way for his team to get away from becoming one dimensional on offense. The North skipper believed his team was starting to rely too much on the Indians’ perimeter players to create on offense and hoped to get his capable post players into the flow.
“On Saturday we really worked on team offense by putting an emphasis on trying to get the ball inside,” Hair said. “We started scrimmaging where we reversed points — a two was worth three and a three was worth two. We need to get the ball into the paint. If we can get it inside, it not only gets our post players scoring, but it causes the defense to have to collapse and we can create more inside out opportunities for our guards. We got some very good work done.”
The team will start its 2012 slate with a road rematch with Shawnee Mission South. The Raiders have been one of the toughest teams in the Sunflower League thus far, but defeated the Indians by just four points three weeks ago. In that game the Indians struggled against South’s height and defensive presence.
“We got hammered inside,” Hair said. “We didn’t play very well and we didn’t attack their zone as well as we could have. Their post guys are good, but we have to find ways to attack their zone better and make their defense work a little bit. We need to go inside a little more.”
Despite the consecutive losses, Hair feels good about the attitude of his team.
“The kids have had the right mindset,” Hair stated. “The first one (practice) back wasn’t very good, but the last three have been good. Our seniors are our leaders and they’ve been battling. The thing is, the margin of error with this team is so small, we’ve got to play our best every night. We have to play at a high level for us to have a chance.”
One thing that helps North’s chances is the return of senior point guard Lloyd Young, who missed the last quarter of the Indians loss to Shawnee Mission East with a leg injury. According to Hair, Young has returned to practice with a vengeance.”
“Lloyd got an X-ray and it looks like it was a deep bruise high above his ankle,” Hair said. “He was tentative with it the first three practices (of winter break), but Saturday he felt great. We could not stop him in the scrimmage. He had his pop back and his lift. It sure helps me sleep better at night when he’s healthy.”