Nine-day break can lead to rust for high school hoops teams

Basketball is a sport built around repetition and timing.

Players and coaches have spent the first month of the season honing their offensive and defensive sets. The goal is to have the team flow like a well-oiled machine.

Unfortunately, Colorado High School Activities Association rules may add some rust to the equation.

Tuesday marked the first day of a nine-day moratorium for all high school basketball teams in the state of Colorado.

“We can’t do anything from the 24 of December through the first of January, no contact at all,” Fruita Monument boys coach Dave Fox said. “According to CHSAA rules we can’t even unlock the gym. Anything they do has to be on their own and whatever they want to do.”

The question becomes how do coaches deal with a break right in the middle of their season where they cannot have any contact with their team? Before the break, most coaches stress the need for the players to get into a gym somewhere and continue working just as hard as they have been since the first practice.

For Fox, the point will be a greater focus this season as the Wildcats suffered from a slothful break in 2007.

“Last year we were terribly out of shape when we came back. The kids didn’t do much of anything,” Fox said. “I think kids now are generally pretty lazy, so unless you have something planned, they won’t go do it. There have been open gyms around the area they can go to.

“So there are things they can do if they will just do it.”

Chance Muller is a senior for Fruita Monument and said the team is putting more of an emphasis on following Fox’s orders during the time off.

“It is really nice for everyone to step back from the grind of everyday practice, but on the other hand we have to stay in shape,” Muller said. “We have to make it a point to go run and shoot and play. If we do that, it will be a great time to refocus and get ready for league.”

Fox added he wouldn’t have a problem with the time off if the team could at least practice.

With nine days between practices, Fox said it is like starting over again.

“I would be okay with this if you can still practice. I don’t think we need the games, but just to be able to keep practice,” Fox said. “It seems silly that we get them in really good shape, then you lay them off for two weeks.

“You come back and some schools have a game in a couple days. With that you worry about injuries because they have been sitting around.”

Basketball is also a sport of momentum.

The Christmas moratorium serves as an unnatural break in a season. A team like the Central boys will suffer. The Warriors have won nine straight games and are playing great basketball.

They will now be forced to wait 20 days until their next game.

But, on the other side of that, the Palisade boys basketball team has lost seven straight games. Bulldogs coach Steve Phillips blamed a lot of the early season woes upon the team overthinking. Phillips hopes the break will allow the team to forget about the first seven games.

“It breaks up the season and maybe we will forget about thinking and come back and just start playing and having fun,” Phillips said.

Phillips said he plans to spend his time off watching film, attempting to reevaluate and figure out what worked for the team.

The moratorium allows coaches to take some time to get away from basketball.

“I reintroduce myself to my family,” Grand Junction girls coach Sam Provenza said. “Reestablish a little humanity because during the season basketball, coaches aren’t too human because we are so focused on basketball.”


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