Dec 29, 2011
Some Basketball Coaches Targeting More Games

Community Media of Colorado, Benn Farrell

http://www.ourcoloradonews.com/centennial/sports/some-coaches-target-more-games/article_ebc638c2-323d-11e1-9e1f-001871e3ce6c.html

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Between finances, the influence of club-level sports and having enough athletes out to make a quality program, high school sports teams struggle in several facets.

However, one facet that could be adjusted is the number of games certain sports play during teams’ regular schedules, particularly in the winter season, when coaches have to work around two holiday breaks.

Several high school basketball coaches, for example, feel adding even five games to their program’s varsity and junior varsity schedule could better prepare their underclass players to compete with the elite by the time they see their junior and senior seasons.

The holiday break is one area where that many games could be added.

“The holiday break which doesn’t allow for competition from Dec. 24 to Jan. 2 takes away the opportunity to compete in holiday tournaments that many other states allow, Douglas County boys hoops coach Jeff Riley said. Dec. 27-30 would be a great time to get in a few more games and provided continuity for high school basketball teams as they progress through their seasons.”

Stately competition

A handful of other states in the country are allowed to schedule the number of games some Colorado coaches would be pleased to have, including California, Arizona, Louisiana and Florida. High school hoops teams in those states play about 12 more games than teams in Colorado.

“In some states, athletes have played as many competitive varsity-level games by the time they are sophomores as our seniors have, Castle View girls hoops coach Matt Hema said.

On the other hand, some coaches feel the number of games Colorado teams play is plenty.

I don’t really feel like there is a need for more games, Littleton girls hoops coach Adam Williams said. Twenty-three is a pretty good number.”

Bob Caton, an icon in Colorado prep basketball who helped Highlands Ranch boys to the Class 5A Final Four last season, said five more games at least at varsity and JV would be a huge benefit. The more games a team plays, within reason, the better the players become, he said. Like many, Caton said adding another tournament to the schedule would be the easiest way.

“Here again, the problem that you run into is that the state tries to do what is best for everyone, and they will look at the smaller schools and see travel problems and that is where the problem is, Caton said. I think that if you let teams that want to play a 28-game schedule do it, and those that are not interested, then so be it.”

Playing with ideas

There are a lot of weekends where a team could play a game on a Friday and then turn around and play on Saturday, Caton said. Teams could play a tournament to start the season in December, one around the holiday break, one to start off the new year and one around the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, he said.

“Think of the creativity you could have, Caton said. Lots of ideas. (These are) games that would pair teams from one league versus another league.”

The Colorado High School Activities Association membership, which includes 340 schools, develops the rules which each sport operates under. Those rules include academic eligibility, transfer, physicals and others, and the playing rules for each individual sport.

CHSAA has determined the game limits for each sport, including individual athlete participation limits.

“High school sports’ primary function is to serve as a tool to help the student be successful in class and progress to graduation on time. Too often, the focus of sports is skewed and our rules are designed to help maintain perspective, CHSAA assistant commissioner Bert Borgman said. The primary reason for game limits is educationally based. High school sports in Colorado are designed to supplement the educational process of its member schools. That means balancing games and practices within a sports season and maintaining the need to keep kids in class and progressing toward graduation.”

In 4A and 5A basketball, CHSAA limits games to 23. In 1A, 2A and 3A, it’s 19. The lower classifications offer a district tournament at the end of the season, where 4A and 5A do not. The number of games for the upper classes without a district playoff, is the average number of games played in the country, Borgman said. Louisiana has 28. Texas has 23, and other states are between 19-28.

Not seeing tournament action over the lengthy holiday break can be a headache.

“The long break we have can be difficult to recover from, said Rob Johnson, Chaparral boys hoops coach.

College prep

Littleton boys hoops coach Ray Van Heukelem said this is a tough topic of discussion. Although he knows many coaches say increasing the quantity of games is more important than increasing the number of practices, he is not convinced, given most teams play two games a week for 11 weeks on average.

Athletics in high school are supposed to supplement the education, not interfere, Van Heukelem said. More games means more travel, less practice and less time for homework. Does that increase the quality? I don’t think it does since the practice time is the coach’s ‘classroom.'”

If the goal for more games is to increase the number of NCAA Division I basketball players from Colorado, Van Heukelem doesn’t feel increasing competitions will achieve that either. The Lions coach said the coaches who want more games in the season are usually the head of great teams who seem to have all the best players year-after-year, he said.

“I believe a more timely topic would be to find out about the state of recruiting in Colorado since ‘School of Choice’ legislation passed, Van Heukelem said. Neighborhood school concepts were destroyed and the same coaches ‘attract’ the most transfers year after year. What Colorado basketball needs most right now is something that restores competitive balance and level playing fields.”

The Lions coach isn’t alone in that train of thought. Several coaches in the south-metro area have said the same issue is the sport’s biggest struggle.

Kevin Boley, boys hoops coach at Legend, said Colorado gets a bad wrap when it comes to producing quality players, and that it’s something which has improved recently. He suspects the work of some of the major summer club programs is to be credited for that.

“We are producing more Division I players each year, but the reality is that a player in Texas or in Arizona, for example, will play over 30 games in a high school season, Boley said. A player in Colorado will play no more than 27 games in a season, if they play in a state championship.”

A player who sees 30-plus games will play about 10 more games per season, and over his or her high school career will essentially play an extra season’s worth of games.

“This certainly allows them to develop their game to a higher level than those kids playing fewer games, the Titans coach said.

Possible changes?

Some states also allow for tournaments over the holiday break, but Colorado athletics has never in its 91-year history, Borgman said. While other states’ preps programs’ procedures sometimes inspires debate among Colorado coaches — such as the need for spring football — Borgman said, often other states look at Colorado to see how to enhance their own formats.

The CHSAA Basketball Advisory Committee regularly examines what happens in other states to see what may be a fit for Colorado, Borgman said. In doing so, Colorado usually comes up unique.

Our 4A, 5A selection process is unique to the country, Borgman said. Many have wanted to mirror it, but cannot get it passed by their legislative body.”

Holiday break is less of an issue now for some teams, Boley said, due to the fact CHSAA has reduced the amount of noncontact days. In past years, some teams were forced to take 10 days off with games resuming one or two days after the January return. Now, there is a mandatory four-day noncontact period.

And without games, many families take trips and extend that time period.

“Break comes at a time when teams are just beginning to mesh, get into shape, Boley said. There is certainly value to the break. Family time, get healthy, get a break. But it makes it very difficult to get going again once we return.”

As far as changes for hoops in Colorado, CHSAA’s basketball committee will look at a number of proposals to tweak and enhance the formats, so there may be some minor changes in the future, Borgman said.

“I can see 4A adopting 19 games plus returning to district tournaments as a means to help make the leagues more profitable, he said.

High school hoops players who are going on to college to play basketball are no longer competing with the high school player down the street or in another part of the state, Caton said.

High school recruiting is not only nationwide but it’s worldwide, the Falcons coach said. Players in Europe and other parts of the world play more basketball, and the college coach has to recruit the best player that he can find. So if we want our players to end up at Colorado University, Colorado State University, Denver University and other colleges then we need to give them the very best opportunity to get to that level.”

Some Basketball Coaches Targeting More Games

Community Media of Colorado, Benn Farrell

http://www.ourcoloradonews.com/centennial/sports/some-coaches-target-more-games/article_ebc638c2-323d-11e1-9e1f-001871e3ce6c.html

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Between finances, the influence of club-level sports and having enough athletes out to make a quality program, high school sports teams struggle in several facets.

However, one facet that could be adjusted is the number of games certain sports play during teams’ regular schedules, particularly in the winter season, when coaches have to work around two holiday breaks.

Several high school basketball coaches, for example, feel adding even five games to their program’s varsity and junior varsity schedule could better prepare their underclass players to compete with the elite by the time they see their junior and senior seasons.

The holiday break is one area where that many games could be added.

“The holiday break which doesn’t allow for competition from Dec. 24 to Jan. 2 takes away the opportunity to compete in holiday tournaments that many other states allow, Douglas County boys hoops coach Jeff Riley said. Dec. 27-30 would be a great time to get in a few more games and provided continuity for high school basketball teams as they progress through their seasons.”

Stately competition

A handful of other states in the country are allowed to schedule the number of games some Colorado coaches would be pleased to have, including California, Arizona, Louisiana and Florida. High school hoops teams in those states play about 12 more games than teams in Colorado.

“In some states, athletes have played as many competitive varsity-level games by the time they are sophomores as our seniors have, Castle View girls hoops coach Matt Hema said.

On the other hand, some coaches feel the number of games Colorado teams play is plenty.

I don’t really feel like there is a need for more games, Littleton girls hoops coach Adam Williams said. Twenty-three is a pretty good number.”

Bob Caton, an icon in Colorado prep basketball who helped Highlands Ranch boys to the Class 5A Final Four last season, said five more games at least at varsity and JV would be a huge benefit. The more games a team plays, within reason, the better the players become, he said. Like many, Caton said adding another tournament to the schedule would be the easiest way.

“Here again, the problem that you run into is that the state tries to do what is best for everyone, and they will look at the smaller schools and see travel problems and that is where the problem is, Caton said. I think that if you let teams that want to play a 28-game schedule do it, and those that are not interested, then so be it.”

Playing with ideas

There are a lot of weekends where a team could play a game on a Friday and then turn around and play on Saturday, Caton said. Teams could play a tournament to start the season in December, one around the holiday break, one to start off the new year and one around the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, he said.

“Think of the creativity you could have, Caton said. Lots of ideas. (These are) games that would pair teams from one league versus another league.”

The Colorado High School Activities Association membership, which includes 340 schools, develops the rules which each sport operates under. Those rules include academic eligibility, transfer, physicals and others, and the playing rules for each individual sport.

CHSAA has determined the game limits for each sport, including individual athlete participation limits.

“High school sports’ primary function is to serve as a tool to help the student be successful in class and progress to graduation on time. Too often, the focus of sports is skewed and our rules are designed to help maintain perspective, CHSAA assistant commissioner Bert Borgman said. The primary reason for game limits is educationally based. High school sports in Colorado are designed to supplement the educational process of its member schools. That means balancing games and practices within a sports season and maintaining the need to keep kids in class and progressing toward graduation.”

In 4A and 5A basketball, CHSAA limits games to 23. In 1A, 2A and 3A, it’s 19. The lower classifications offer a district tournament at the end of the season, where 4A and 5A do not. The number of games for the upper classes without a district playoff, is the average number of games played in the country, Borgman said. Louisiana has 28. Texas has 23, and other states are between 19-28.

Not seeing tournament action over the lengthy holiday break can be a headache.

“The long break we have can be difficult to recover from, said Rob Johnson, Chaparral boys hoops coach.

College prep

Littleton boys hoops coach Ray Van Heukelem said this is a tough topic of discussion. Although he knows many coaches say increasing the quantity of games is more important than increasing the number of practices, he is not convinced, given most teams play two games a week for 11 weeks on average.

Athletics in high school are supposed to supplement the education, not interfere, Van Heukelem said. More games means more travel, less practice and less time for homework. Does that increase the quality? I don’t think it does since the practice time is the coach’s ‘classroom.'”

If the goal for more games is to increase the number of NCAA Division I basketball players from Colorado, Van Heukelem doesn’t feel increasing competitions will achieve that either. The Lions coach said the coaches who want more games in the season are usually the head of great teams who seem to have all the best players year-after-year, he said.

“I believe a more timely topic would be to find out about the state of recruiting in Colorado since ‘School of Choice’ legislation passed, Van Heukelem said. Neighborhood school concepts were destroyed and the same coaches ‘attract’ the most transfers year after year. What Colorado basketball needs most right now is something that restores competitive balance and level playing fields.”

The Lions coach isn’t alone in that train of thought. Several coaches in the south-metro area have said the same issue is the sport’s biggest struggle.

Kevin Boley, boys hoops coach at Legend, said Colorado gets a bad wrap when it comes to producing quality players, and that it’s something which has improved recently. He suspects the work of some of the major summer club programs is to be credited for that.

“We are producing more Division I players each year, but the reality is that a player in Texas or in Arizona, for example, will play over 30 games in a high school season, Boley said. A player in Colorado will play no more than 27 games in a season, if they play in a state championship.”

A player who sees 30-plus games will play about 10 more games per season, and over his or her high school career will essentially play an extra season’s worth of games.

“This certainly allows them to develop their game to a higher level than those kids playing fewer games, the Titans coach said.

Possible changes?

Some states also allow for tournaments over the holiday break, but Colorado athletics has never in its 91-year history, Borgman said. While other states’ preps programs’ procedures sometimes inspires debate among Colorado coaches — such as the need for spring football — Borgman said, often other states look at Colorado to see how to enhance their own formats.

The CHSAA Basketball Advisory Committee regularly examines what happens in other states to see what may be a fit for Colorado, Borgman said. In doing so, Colorado usually comes up unique.

Our 4A, 5A selection process is unique to the country, Borgman said. Many have wanted to mirror it, but cannot get it passed by their legislative body.”

Holiday break is less of an issue now for some teams, Boley said, due to the fact CHSAA has reduced the amount of noncontact days. In past years, some teams were forced to take 10 days off with games resuming one or two days after the January return. Now, there is a mandatory four-day noncontact period.

And without games, many families take trips and extend that time period.

“Break comes at a time when teams are just beginning to mesh, get into shape, Boley said. There is certainly value to the break. Family time, get healthy, get a break. But it makes it very difficult to get going again once we return.”

As far as changes for hoops in Colorado, CHSAA’s basketball committee will look at a number of proposals to tweak and enhance the formats, so there may be some minor changes in the future, Borgman said.

“I can see 4A adopting 19 games plus returning to district tournaments as a means to help make the leagues more profitable, he said.

High school hoops players who are going on to college to play basketball are no longer competing with the high school player down the street or in another part of the state, Caton said.

High school recruiting is not only nationwide but it’s worldwide, the Falcons coach said. Players in Europe and other parts of the world play more basketball, and the college coach has to recruit the best player that he can find. So if we want our players to end up at Colorado University, Colorado State University, Denver University and other colleges then we need to give them the very best opportunity to get to that level.”






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