In 29 years of high school basketball coaching had 6 teams that were seeded number one, 3 at Orono, 2 at Bangor and 1 at John Bapst that I considered the best teams athletically in their class those 6 seasons.
Of those 6 teams only 2 at Orono won state championships. One (Orono) got beaten in the Eastern Maine Finals, one (Bangor) got beat in the Eastern Maine Finals and one (Bangor) got beaten in the semi-finals and one (John Bapst got beaten in the quarter-finals).
In those years let the players use their athleticism more then did the other 23 teams that were not the best teams athletically in their class. Had 2 teams (1 Bangor and 1 John Bapst) ranked number 1 but were not the best teams athletically those years. Both teams really over achieved.
In the years that we were not the best teams athletically we were seeded 3rd twice and first once (all at John Bapst) and still won state championships.
In those years and all the other seasons we were not the best team athletically we had to try to take away the athleticism of the teams that were much better than we were athletically.
We relied on the 6 inch game, 6 inches from our player’s throats up to their brains and 6 inches down to their hearts and anything below their hearts we considered athleticism which we did not have as much as some other teams.
So we had to take the opponents athleticism away from them by playing from the shoulders up, by developing higher basketball IQ’s to allow us to make better basketball decisions, by having great shot selection, reducing turnovers and personal fouls in order to slow down the game so we could take away the number of possessions of the athletic teams.
To do this successfully we had to have the ball in our possession 65% of the game or 20.8 minutes. Thus, only allowing our more athletic opponents to only have the ball 35% of the game or 11.2 minutes of the games 32 minutes.
Even playing this way there was never a season that we didn’t average at least 50 points per game.
Also, we were a team that other teams did not want to play in the tournaments because of the style of our play.
Many times in games today teams are trying to score and they don’t go over 40 points for each team.
One of our assistant coaches kept track of our possession time with a stop watch and if we were not on schedule of 65% WE WOULD RUN OUR CONTINUITY OFFENSE UNTIL WE GOT A LAYUP.
This was extremely successful as we won 3 state championships at John Bapst when we were far from the best team athletically in 1989 and 1990 in our class those 2 years.
in 1993 we were the biggest/tallest high school basketball team ever to play high school basketball in Maine. 6’11”, 6’8″, 6’8″, 6’4″ seniors 6’2″ junior and 6’3″ sophomore, but were not very athletic, just big.
In fact, when the 4 seniors were freshmen they only won 6 games and only the 6’11” player was over 6 feet when they were freshmen at 6’2″. This team went undefeated at 22-0.
In order to do this you had to get the players to buy into such a system, have very smart players, very coachable players who put winning ahead of individual glory and willing to accept their individual roles.
Sometimes when we felt that our teams thought that they were as athletic as other teams in our class, we would give them a chance to use what athleticism that they had in the pre-season games and then after 10 games they usually figured that they were not as athletic as they thought they were because we always scheduled much more athletic teams in the pre-season to prove our coaching point.
So then we went to the 6 inch game, playing above the shoulders and developed the needed patience needed to do to develop high basketball IQ’s which develop excellent basketball decision making to take open high percentage shots, reduce turnovers to limit opponents possessions (under 12 per game) and personal fouls (under 7 per half to keep opponents off the foul line).
Very few teams did what we did then. However, hardly any teams today do that at the high school or college levels in Maine, let alone in the country.
Teams made the tournaments 26 of the 29 years. With this system 20 of 23 years and the 3 years didn’t make the tourney one each at Fort Fairfield, Orono and John Bapst finished 9th.
It was like a prelim game of today those 3 years.
As had we won the last game of those 3 seasons we’d have made the tournament. System played in 10 Eastern Maine Finals, winning 3 and winning 3 out of 3 state games.
This type of disciplinary philosophy system was a great way too “teach the life lessons that cannot be taught or learned in the academic classrooms”, which is a major objective of high school interscholastic athletics in the United States.
Teaching those “life lessons” was the only reason I went into coaching in the first place. This system was a great way to emphasis, teach, learn and prove the valuable “Life Lessons” of accepting a role, sacrificing for the good of the team, team goals ahead of individual goals, importance of the whole being more important then it’s individual parts, self-discipline, how to be coachable by accepting positive criticism, etc.