The 2018-2019 Oklahoma High School Basketball season has drawn to a close. Fourteen state championship tournaments completed over the last two weekends: 7 classes, boys and girls. I watched some exciting, competitive games, a couple of blowouts, and some really well played basketball. After watching another season of championship basketball, my opinion hasn’t changed. If you want to win it all:
- Develop your shot. The state tournament teams shoot well. They shoot the ball better from three point range, but more importantly, they shoot the ball much better from mid-range, and they use the glass when they’re under the bucket. In the state semifinals, I witnessed a player go 0-6 from the foul line. His team lost in OT. That may haunt him for years. Spend hours shooting the ball. There are a few who become great shooters, but most high school athletes can become good shooters. Spend more time shooting on your own. Organized practice time is not enough. It takes a basketball, a goal, time, and you. If you don’t have time, it’s because you are using your time for other things, and you are making those other things a higher priority. Shoot, shoot, shoot.
- Learn to play defense together, as a team. This is where organized practice comes in. Be aware that you can develop some terrible defensive habits playing pick-up ball, and, I have to add, many AAU programs ignore good defensive fundamentals, and foster terrible habits.
- Effort. Once you step on the court, there is no room for even one lazy play. Yes, I saw some kids take plays off in the state tournament. In a championship game that was going back and forth in the 4th, I witnessed a player start letting up on the defensive end, while showing lots of energy on the offensive end. Yes, you guessed it, the player was scored on multiple times late in the game, and they lost. You must choose to keep working on the defensive end and on the boards. You must get the 50/50 balls. Defend, block out, and dive for loose balls. Sometimes it hurts, but losing hurts worse. At least, losing hurts worse for those who care about winning.
In short, learn to shoot. OK is not good enough. Make defense a priority. Work; work in the offseason; work in practice; work on your own; and work in the game.