There was plenty of talk about practice on Tuesday night at Lindsay Thurber.
Not in the same way NBA Hall of Famer Allen Iverson infamously insulted the tradition in a 2002 press conference, but rather, in its intrinsic importance to the development of a high school basketball player.
“They get along really well so I think that’s been a key to improving quite a bit,” Raiders senior girls basketball coach Kathy Lalor said about her team.
“We’re starting to do things that we’re asking them to do in practice already. So that’s always exciting. We’ve been trying to set a few goals each game. Most games we’re reaching the goals that we’re setting. That’s exciting, because we still have a lot of season left.”
After just eight games this season, now off for Christmas break until the new year, Lalor raved about her veteran senior squad. That includes five returning players, four of which are Grade 12s and one Grade 11.
That familiarity with one another has helped increase the learning curve ten fold and their passion for the sport has made it easy to help get them all on the same page.
“Very coachable group of girls. They really enjoy the game. You can see that at practice,” Lalor said again using the “P” word.
“Everybody has made some improvements already, and I feel like three weeks in, you can’t always say that. I’m excited, I’m excited about the season.”
Lalor said a lot of the practice time through the first three weeks, since they first attended a tournament the weekend after 4A volleyball provincials were hosted at LTCHS, has been dedicated to defence.
“We’re working on defence. Limit the number of second shots teams are getting … earlier in the season we were taking bad shots … I felt like we were starting to make that extra pass to get a little bit better shot,” she added.
On Tuesday, they handily beat the West Central Rebels from Rocky Mountain House 72-19 in only their second league game of the year.
In the New Year they will line up a few games against 4A schools they could potentially face at provincials, just another stepping stone in the plan, along with of course, lots of practice.
On the senior boys side at LTCHS, it’s also been about practice. Possibly with the players cursing coach Carl Light’s run-and-gun style, where for 40 minutes his team flies up and down the floor trying to score transition baskets.
“We’re young. We’re fast and we’re not very big. So totally looking for the run-and-gun,” he said.
On the sidelines, there were plenty of teaching points in a 59-57 loss to the West Central Rebels, but that happens with a team that was only playing their second game of senior basketball.
“I’m happy because we’re just working on fundamentals right now. We’re trying to gel more as a team,” Light added.
Those fundamentals include how exactly a team that doesn’t play traditional basketball, by setting up half-court plays, running plays through a big player in the post and a generous amount of pick-and-rolls works.
“Transition defence and fast-break offence. Just for the young guys, think about the speed of the game and where to be in terms of our defensive strategy,” Light noted.
With only a few games under their belt, Light acknowledged practice will create a lot of teaching time this season, and a lot of running. Which will all have the team ready for a playoff push, the most important “P” world of all.
“We have a lot to work on for the end of the season, our goal is the end of the season,” Light said.
“Win or lose as long as we are working on the things from practice than I’m happy.”