We were a .500 team at the time. It was still early in the season, and there’d been enough flashes of promise so far to give everyone hope we’d move beyond our mediocre start and finish the year strong. But we needed a speech. This was a turning point.
“Gentlemen. We are all logs. We need to all come together. We need to come together and make a fire. Bring it in. Let’s flame it up!!!!!!”
Speeches are hard. Safe to say we lost that game. Here are a few more high school (and one college – Chase you’re so good) basketball coach stories from my friends that seem to come up after 4-8 beers on Saturday nights.
Getting through screens was really important to Coach. That and closing out to shooters on balance. And moving on defense as a unit. And boxing out. And listening to Enya (dude knew how to relax). Basically, he cared about everything I didn’t (defense and rebounding), and nothing I did (shooting tons of threes).
So in the orange-tinted light of the back gym one afternoon, Coach was harping on being unscreenable.
“Get low, attack the screener’s shoulder,” he said as he had a guy on our team pretend to try to screen him, “and BLAST THROUGH!”
On “BLAST THROUGH” he, a grown adult man, destroyed this 16-year-old’s shoulder. As a 16-year-old myself, I found this hilarious. Coach did not appreciate my laughter.
“If playing hard is a joke to you, then get off the court!”
You get used to being yelled at when you play high school basketball, so I shut up and blankly stared back. Once he calmed down, he put us in teams to run our offense as defenders practiced BLASTING THROUGH screens.
Guarding my man on the wing, I momentarily lost track of the guy coming to set a screen on my left. And when I finally did notice the screen was coming, I reverted to my pre-BREAK THROUGH habits and tried to slip past it.
That shit was not gonna’ fly.
“WHAT ARE YOU DOING!? I SAID BLAST THROUGH – STOP BEING SUCH A…SUCH A…PUSSBAG!”
Wait, what? There are few things funnier than when someone is trying to be Bobby-Knight-level intimidating and shouts something like pussbag. At the same time, I had just been called a pussbag. What’s the proper reaction to a man who has lost touch with reality enough to use pussbag as a motivational insult?
The only thing Coach could do was to call a water break. And as I jogged to the water fountain, a modern-day Shakespeare on our team put into words what was on all our minds.
“Haha dude, coach just called you a pussbag.”
Freshman year I had a stocky 6″2 – 6″4 white guy with blonde hair as our coach. He played some high school ball with Shawn Kemp and had lots of incriminating stories about him which was fun. Coach also played a little pro ball in Germany. In our huddles we would close out with (all hands in, in rythym, in German..) “Eins! Zwei! Drei!” translated as “One!” Two!” “Three!” in American English. As a Jew this did not really pump me up but rather made me feel slightly uncomfortable.
I got interviewed by our school paper and at one point during the interview I jokingly said that “I shoot better than Christ”. Didn’t think it was a big deal as I always pegged JC as more of a take-you-off-the-dribble combo guard anyways.
Well, coach saw the quote and after practice that day proceeded to run me until “his hemorrhoids stopped flaring up”. I was running for a while.
During an away game our senior year, some of us drove to Maine West to watch our team get their asses kicked (it was also an excuse to get El Famous Burrito). During Maine West free throws, we were so obnoxious the head and assistant coach on our team got off the bench to turnaround and yell at us. So all five of us left. Parents aside, we were the only student fans there so it created quite a scene as we walked out in the middle of the third.
Also, our team only won five games that year. And I still wouldn’t have made the team. Go Warriors.
So I played a little D3 ball at Bo Ryan’s former college – a place where he won four National Championships, so there were some large shoes to fill for the next guys in line for the job. The town was used to teams that went 30-0, 31-0 and won every game by about 20 points, so it got a little stressful at times for the new guys trying (unsuccessfully) to bring that back. The coach I played for was a good coach, although I somewhat resented the fact that our playbook was just a bit larger than Encyclopedia Britannica. Very good X’s and O’s guy, definitely like to be in control of every situation. Very emotional guy – when he got angry I often thought he resembled the Monster Tweety Bird from the cartoon. A phrase he loved to use in the pre-game speech was “BALLS THE SIZE OF THIS ROOM!!!! – fitting for this blog? “Guys, we’ve gotta have BALLS THE SIZE OF THIS ROOM TO WIN TODAY!!!”….. Kendall was everywhere today!!! His BALLS WERE BIGGER THAN THIS ROOM!!! EVERY LOOSE BALL!!!”…… On the other side of things, if we had a bad game, we’d get chewed out in the locker room afterwards with the phrase – “DICKS KICKED IN”….. “YOU GUYS WENT OUT THERE AND GOT YOUR DICKS KICKED IN TODAY!!!”….. Kendall, your guy outrebounded you 30 to 0 – YOU GOT YOUR DICK KICKED IN!!”. Not really a story just a few thoughts from a scattered basketball mind.
Growing up, my basketball team was terrible. We lost a lot of games, so thanks for making me sad just thinking back on it. I’d say it came to a head in the 7th grade, when our head coach must have heard about the team he was inheriting. During our first practice, Coach L informed us that he would not be making any substitutions during the games. We would pick a partner to sub in and out of the game with, and we would manage ourselves in that department. I’ve never experienced somebody so blatantly mailing in a season before it even started. This led to a lot of 30 second playing stints and fights between subbing partners. Believe it or not, we actually lost a lot that season.
Along those lines, we spent more time in the classroom drawing up plays than we did playing basketball. It was the year 2005 and he still drew up plays on the chalkboard. Every time he started drawing the court, he would draw the extended free throw lines at different lengths. He was consistent, so the right free throw lane line was longer than the left every single time. He would then connect the free throw lines (as illustrated below), erase them and level them out. Every damn time. Death, taxes and uneven free throw lines. The audacity. We had more plays than points scored per game, so our entire team had hours of our lives banked to watching this process go down. I now know why I started balding at the age of 23.
On the fun sucking front, there were a handful of “no no’s:” long hair, facial hair, side burns passed your ears, no-show socks, scoring points and your shoes had to be predominately white with a trim of green. One of my teammates blew a tire during practice so his dad went out and bought him a pair of the newest LeBron’s, which just happen to be all white. When he walked into the classroom to witness the lane drawing demonstration, our coach immediately identified the perpetrator and applied a full court press. Who in their right mind would go out and get a pair of all white basketball shoes and leave out the green trim? Needless to say, my teammate was dismissed from practice and hit the showers early. After losing a total of two games my entire high school career to that point, we went .500 for two years straight.
If you have any funny basketball coach stories, let’s keep this train chugging. Add them in the comments.