Coaches lend insight to how they prepare for basketball playoffs
The high school basketball regular season concluded Thursday, Feb. 8, and the playoffs are set to open this week.
The Penobscot Bay Pilot asked the local head coaches of the eight teams to qualify for the playoffs — Vinalhaven, Medomak Valley, Islesboro and Oceanside girls; Belfast, Oceanside, Camden Hills and Medomak Valley boys — to provide some insight into what challenges might face in the playoffs and how they are preparing their team for the playoffs.
Nicholas DePatsy, Medomak Valley boys basketball:
Making the tournament is goal we as a team set each year. Being in Class A, the physicality of teams and being able to compete at a high level for 32 minutes are the two biggest challenges we face.
We prepare differently for each opponent. We don't change much, we tweak a few things but nothing major.
Sandy Nelson, Vinalhaven girls basketball:
It is important that we take one game at a time. On any given day any team can win. This is a new season everyone's record is 0-0. We cannot take anyone lightly, and each time we take the court we must play well as a team to win.
We were able to take a few days off, which I think we needed. Basketball is a long season and your team can get stale. We really haven't done anything different. I tried to keep the game schedule the same [with] two a week.
Jeff Hart, Camden Hills boys basketball:
I’ve always believed that you start each season with an idea of how the team would need to be able to play in order to be successful in the postseason. So that’s what we’ve been doing, and now that we are here, we’re just continuing to make little adjustments based on our opponent.
We’re looking forward to Saturday. Cony is an excellent team, but anyone we play now would be. We’re looking forward to the challenge.
Ryan McNelly, Medomak Valley girls basketball:
One of the biggest challenges will be playing on a bigger stage and adjusting to different things we encounter. We have been doing things all year to prepare for this. We have played three games at the [Augusta Civic Center] this year. When we scheduled them we knew it would be great preparation if we were fortunate enough to make the playoffs.
I think we might have nerves to start, but I am confident we will overcome them quickly and settle in.
We don't often get a week to prepare for one opponent. It is a great to have this much time to prepare for one team. We are focusing on very specific things in practice and are planning a scrimmage during the week to help prepare as well.
Marty Messer, Belfast boys basketball:
We are lined up to play Caribou who are a good team. We are focusing on that team and their strengths but if we win, we would face an undefeated Hermon team that is one of the best in the state. If we play as a team and step up the overall aggressiveness than I believe we can advance and surprise a lot of teams with our play.
We try to practice like we play in games so we've tried to keep a consistent, conscience effort and focus on playing aggressive, hustling and playing active defense. Hopefully, it will carry over into games.
I try to gather as much information about my opponent’s strengths, weakness and game tendencies. As a coach, I try to distinguish the useful information and put it into a quality scouting report.
The team discusses and reviews strategies constantly in practices so when it becomes game-time, we are ready. We also review what our weaknesses are throughout the whole season and keep trying to improve on those. The coaches keep emphasizing how important the level of focus is as we prepare. We have to be mentally ready as well as physically. I like to remind them of our pre-season team goals.
We spend more time with in-depth scouting our opponents. I add or change some offensive plays to keep other teams from knowing our patterns. The practices are naturally more intense this time of year. We also have to carefully plan the pregame ritual considering we have a four hour bus ride, to make sure the boys are ready to play.
Krysti Zollman, Islesboro girls basketball:
Our biggest challenge is going to be numbers and health of players. We have a small team and with one player out due to injury, we will not be able to make many substitutions. On the positive side of things, my players are used to going all four quarters with minimal substitutions and rest so they are already in shape.
We are preparing by stepping up the intensity of our practices and thinking strategically about the team we will be playing. We will be focusing on fundamentals and conditioning even more than we did in the regular season.
Reach George Harvey and the sports department at: firstname.lastname@example.org.