Though I coached at Harvard for seven years, since then I haven’t always been a fan of the team or rooted for them, after all, by not giving me the head coaching job way-back-when, they essentially fired me. (Thereby waiting much, much longer to get to the NCAAs then the should have!!!) But after they gave Tommy Amaker the job, a guy I knew from when he was an assistant at Duke and I at Harvard, I started to warm up to the program again. His top two assistants have run many NTL clinics in Boston the past few years and do a great work. It’s been fun to reconnect.
So, other than liking Amaker and his assistants what made me excited about Harvard’s great win last night? (You did watch it, didn’t you?) Not their mascot; they don’t have one. Not their pep band; they are more like a chamber music ensemble. Nope, it was the way they played and the way they played is exactly what we preach and teach at the Never Too Late Basketball Camps. They won because of strict adherence to fundamentals, the same fundamentals that can help you play better and enjoy the game longer: excellent floor spacing and ball movement on offense; understanding and executing roles and responsibilities and goals on defense. Plus they’ve worked on sills. Plus they shot well, but a big reason they shot well is they shot in rhythm, never forcing a shot or taking a shot they don’t practice. It was beautiful.
After drills and skills and getting players to pay attention to the small stuff during those practice sessions, we run four sets of “coached scrimmages” at the weekend camps. By the time the Sunday morning scrimmage rolls around, we expect to see some of what we saw from Harvard last night: patience; spacing; a willingness to trust teammates and to move the ball; a belief and understanding of what you are trying collectively to accomplish on defense.
Plus we have a cool NBA style Three-Pont Shooting Contest, the winner of which this year will get the “Laurent Rivard Award”! (That kid can shoot!)