As we approach a dead period over the summer that bars organized team activities, we thought it would be a good time to take stock of where teams are in their offseason camp work as they prepare for the 2015-2016 season. You can share your perspective by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
We begin our series by checking in with Kevin Schultz, Head Boys Basketball Coach of the Marquette Mustangs, who took his team to the University of Missouri Men’s Team Camp earlier this month.
What are you losing coming out of last season, player-wise?
We lost 8 seniors to graduation, including an All-Conference post player (leading scorer), an All-Conference guard (3rd leading scorer), 2 excellent defenders, and other kids who clearly understood and accepted their role on the team. Our team last year was a very tight group with excellent senior leadership.
What are your program’s offseason goals in general heading into next year?
Probably the most important aspect of summer basketball is helping players become accustomed to new roles. We had 8 seniors last year, all with a very specific job. With those 8 seniors graduating, we need to help the newcomers learn their new role and teach them how to succeed at that role at the varsity level. It’s a very large and very difficult learning experience for our younger players.
What were you hoping to see from your team at the Mizzou camp and did you see it?
I believe the best teams all know how to do these 4 things consistently: defend, rebound, handle the ball, and make free-throws. Teams that do those 4 things well know how to compete with anyone. We honestly struggled so far this summer in each of those 4 areas at one point or another. That’s the mark of a young and inexperienced team. But the kids now have a much better idea just how important these 4 areas are in relation to competing at a very high level. I’m not concerned about our Xs and Os at all during the summer because we adapt them to the personnel we have anyways. As coaches, we are learning about our kids just like our players are learning about themselves.
You’re probably balancing the unique opportunity the kids get to work at Mizzou, with your own hopes and expectations as a coach to a degree, right? And the kids may be balancing the fun aspect of that while also hoping to possibly impress a college coach. Did you talk about any of that with players before hand?
Overnight camps are always a lot of fun for the players and the coaches. We really do enjoy spending time with the kids no matter how well we play. But I think every player would agree with the idea that the better we compete, the more fun we have. It’s the same during the season as well. So we do our best as coaches to continuously send that single message to the players in every game we play in, no matter what time of year it is. That’s what the primary focus is of our conversations heading in to team camp…which is no different than any game during the season.
What do you think your team learns by seeing the guys who have roots in the Marquette program who are now at Mizzou, both as basketball players and beyond that? Have to think that the adversity that they’ve experienced is a good learning tool for you.
That was the single most important reason we took our team to Mizzou’s team camp this year. We now have two former players playing for the Tigers this year: Ryan Rosburg and Martavian Payne (played for Marquette his freshman year). It was great for our players to see two former Mustangs practicing for Mizzou. I definitely had Ryan talk to our kids after one of our games to give them advice and how to handle the adversity they will face during the off-season and during the regular season. Ryan has been through that for a long time now as a player, so his comments were very heartfelt and very genuine. It’s great for our kids to hear the same message from multiple sources and multiple perspectives.