The month of June is an important one for the Gainesville ISD basketball program. Not only are the middle school teams able to gain some valuable experience while fending off the post-school rust, but Gainesville head coach Jeff Wolf is getting some time to work with his incoming freshmen.
Last year, coaches were unable to coach teams and players during the summer, but this month, Gainesville is hosting summer tournaments every Thursday with teams from around North Texas including Lindsay, Whitesboro, S&S Consolidated, Slidell and Tioga.
“With the new UIL rules, we can practice with the kids two hours a week,” Wolf said. “You’re allowed two hours between Monday and Thursday and that’s for all sports, but I’m going to use an hour so if they want to do another sport they can.”
Wolf said it is imperative he get to know the kids so he can coach better.
“The biggest thing I’m trying to build is relationships and build a program from the bottom up,” Wolf said. “You know, we’re also doing stuff with to-be fifth graders to-be sixth graders and to-be seventh graders on Monday nights. I really just am feeling the younger guys out and trying to teach them just a few things and make it simple.”
As far as why he plans on coaching those few simple things, Wolf wants the players to be able to immediately put those to use in a game.
“I’m not giving them a lot of stuff to do,” Wolf said. “It’s really simple, but just I’m trying to give them some structure. And the biggest thing is just to get them to do something in the summer and have fun together. We had a couple of teams that were in the league that weren’t able to come because they’re out of town for camps and stuff, so our kids got opportunities to actually play four games each last week.”
The two things he’s focusing on currently are rebounding and spacing on offense.
“Not like plays and stuff per se, but just spacing playing the game and just playing together as a team,” Wolf said. “Those are core fundamentals. Rebounding, I’ve always said is kind of like special teams in football. I mean, it’s one-third of the game in football and in basketball it gets extra baskets. And so it’s one of those things that you have to continue to practice on.”
Wolf said he thought his teams were learning some valuable lessons during the summer.
“I thought last week was really good, because, you know, we had players from both A and B teams and we’re just looking for the kids that really want to play and open it up,” Wolf said. “Here’s the deal. I still want kids to be kids. I want kids to go to the swimming pool and I want them on vacation, but if you want to be good at anything, you have to do it all the time. You can’t just do it once the season starts. We’re getting the kids to compete, learn how to compete, learn how to win, and how to play together.”
Patrick Hayslip can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at @PatrickHayslip