Northwest boys emphasize fundamentals during winter break
Shawnee Mission Northwest boys basketball head coach Mike Rose didn’t spend much of his holiday break time on strategizing new offensive or defensive schemes to catch the rest of the Sunflower League by surprise in the 2012 portion of the season.
For Rose, the skills that will carry his team to success in this year and beyond are the same ones that have brought success to previous Cougar ballclubs — fundamentals and more fundamentals.
“We spent a lot of our break time going back to the basics,” Rose said. “Sometimes we can overlook things like ball-handling and passing. So we sent subtle reminders to our kids that these are the things that will carry us through the rest of the season. It’s the things you don’t seem to have time for before break.”
The Cougars went into the holiday break with a 2-3 record including wins over Junction City and Washington. Despite the sub-.500 record, Rose was pleased with about 90 percent of his team’s play. There was just 16 minutes of basketball Rose — and his team — would like to forget.
“I felt that we had played four-and-a-half games of pretty good basketball,” Rose said, “our first half against Shawnee Mission South being the exception. Against South, our effort had not been there as it was in the rest of our games. I told the guys, it was like when Bill Self had said about his own KU team — when KU plays with great effort, they’re pretty hard to beat. When the effort isn’t there, they become average really quick. Our effort level has to be tremendous, and — for the most part — I thought our kids played really hard (in December). As long as we brought the effort we’d be okay.”
The Cougars will now open the 2012 slate with a home Sunflower League contest Friday against Shawnee Mission West. Northwest lost to the Vikings by eight on the road early last month. This time they host West in a game that will count in the Sunflower League standings. Rose is hoping his team can recover from the errors they made in the previous matchup with the Vikings.
“One of the things we did against West offensively was that we turned the ball over too much –—especially early,” Rose said. “We didn’t guard their posts very well. We need to make sure that we correct that and we have to recognize that they have a couple of guys who can shoot and we need to stick closer to them and not help off as much.”
Rose has been quick to make sure that his players know that there are no unimportant games the rest of the way. By emphasizing the importance of every game on the schedule, Rose has been able to provide his players some added motivation when it comes time to mention practices as well.
“Every game is key for us,” Rose stated. “I spend a lot of time looking at the schedule, especially the practice schedule. I told the guys, ‘Hey, we’ve played five games, but we’ve practiced 40 times. We have 30 practices left and 15 games left. That’s motivation for the kids to see that the bulk of practices are behind them. It’s also important for us to recognize that any game is crucial.”
With five games under their belts, many Sunflower League teams have settled on their primary varsity rotation. However, after the Cougars’ winter break sessions, Rose has seen that there are still several combinations that could yet come together on the court for Northwest.
“Our staff spent a lot of time talking about the rotation over break,” said Rose. “We were encouraging some guys who had shots at getting into it. There were some guys who surprised us by having really good practices. We know now that if one or two of our top six or seven guys doesn’t bring it every night, that we have some guys who can step up. I feel very confident in going to the bench and letting them have an opportunity. So, I would say that there is not a settled rotation yet.”