Basketball Players, Coaches Enjoying More Time Together

1 year ago Andrew Luberda 0



New rules instituted by the Arizona Interscholastic Association are allowing high school coaches to work with their players during parts of the offseason that were previously off limits.

Summer, for example, was typically the time for basketball players to compete with club and AAU teams, exclusively.

San Tan Foothills 2020 guard Kevin Tucker launches a deep three versus Casa Grande during a practice game in April. (Kelli Luberda)

While some players are continuing their club and AAU summer circuit, others – especially underclassmen – are spending valuable time learning, improving, and perhaps teaching during the spring and summer with their high school teammates and coaches.

Ben Johnson, the Combs boys’ basketball head coach, invited Apache Junction, Queen Creek, San Tan Foothills, Casa Grande, and Florence to play two games apiece during a pair of Saturdays in April, taking advantage of the new rules.

“What (Johnson) lets us do is play a lot of young kids,” San Tan Foothills head coach Joe Galish told following a Sabercats’ game against Casa Grande. “(There’s) not a lot of pressure for these kids, which is really important. They just need to get comfortable playing with each other.”

Rome Foster, a senior-to-be in the Coyotes’ program, is using the addition time to improve his own game while passing along some of his experiences to the younger players, all of it with the hope of helping the Combs basketball program continue to improve after he graduates.

“I love the new rules,” said Foster, a 5-foot-10 guard. “(The additional time) shows who’s committed to the program, it helps get the program better, it helps develop the younger athletes, and even the older athletes, such as myself. I’m just trying to improve my game every day and get better for the team.”

What results do the coaches expect after tryouts are complete and rosters are selected later this year?

“I hope they have that bond with each other,” Johnson answered. “I think we’re building that now through games, so they can trust each other.”