Summer basketball usually consists of tournaments, but this summer has been unique for several reasons.
The coronavirus pandemic has eliminated all games, but as a result, schools are still getting the chance to do sports-specific workouts in various sports.
The Muenster Hornets are taking advantage of the situation and using this time to get some work in.
From shooting to agility, the workouts may not resemble the game of basketball, but Muenster boys head coach Lynn Cook said it’s still a benefit for the athletes.
After several months off, Cook said he was impressed with the athletes’ vigor upon returning to action.
“I thought the kids did a great job of coming in ready to work,” Cook said. “I’m sure they had a lot of pent up energy and from the get-go, they’ve been willing to work hard and the numbers have been good.”
Personally for Cook, he said he appreciates getting back into a routine.
“Having a purpose each day is important to me and I enjoy the grind and routine,” Cook said. “This is the second year we’ve been able to work with them during the summer. It’s still a little unusual, but not as unusual as it would have been if this were the first year. This summer, for right now, we’re prohibited from any competitive drills that are 1-on-1.”
The University Interscholastic League just announced that schools could do 1-on-1 drills, but in the meantime, Cook said the focus has been on passing, dribbling and shooting.
“It’s easy to look good going against air, but you find out much more about your players when they are being defending and everything you want to do isn’t so easy,” Cook said. “Air offers little resistance when it comes to basketball drills. I hope every year that we’re a competitive team and we build those instincts to compete during this time.”
While the Hornets are working on the offensive side of the game, that sort of works out for the defensive-minded Cook and the Hornets because they will need to see an improvement on offense as they turn their attention to next season.
“Scoring is something we have to get better at,” Cook said. “It is what it is. It’s not a criticism of them. It’s just a fact. So getting an hour of shots up can only benefit us in the long run.”
Cook gets the high school group of athletes for two hours a week and the junior high for two hours a week.
He said this summer is a great opportunity for the junior high athletes to get a chance to dip their toe into the program.
“We’ve got a ton of them and the seventh graders that will be eighth graders have a taste of what’s going on, but the sixth graders going into seventh grade have listened and I think for the most part they get it,” Cook said. “This just gets them ahead of the curve. We don’t spend any time on teaching them Xs and Os necessarily, but as far as working hard at dribbling and passing, we definitely emphasize that every day.”
Except for the rust that comes with being away from the game for several months, Cook said the high school athletes have picked up right where they left off from last season.
“We’ve got all the guys that play other sports in the gym and the continuity is a good thing,” Cook said. “Anytime you can get them all together and keep the rust factor down and keep basketball on their mind is always a good thing. Since I’ve been here, the commitment level has been really, really high and commendable. It takes a lot to go from sport to sport to sport.”
Cook said anything that the athletes may have lost in the strength or agility department they have made up and in a lot of cases they are stronger and more agile.
The goal for the next few weeks is to finish out strong and have a foundation set for the hopeful return to basketball season in the fall.
“For me, you can keep basketball skills polished if you’re committed to basketball,” Cook said. “In a regular year, you can find time to get in the gym and get some shots up. To me, the summer is all about becoming a better athlete, getting stronger and faster.”
Patrick Hayslip can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at @PatrickHayslip