Summer hoops key for prep teams
Twenty years ago, high school basketball in the summer consisted mostly pick-up games in the gym or the local park. Not anymore.Now, prep coaches look at summer play as an extension of their school’s overall programs. Leagues involving Western Slope teams are within easy driving distance across the area.Instructional camps – for teams and individuals – are plentiful. The final decision as to the commitment of the individual program is left in the hands of each school’s head coach.That’s where opinions and options differ.”We’ve had open gyms at the community center twice a week, and we played in the Coal Ridge mini-summer league,” said Glenwood High’s interim boys head coach Greg Hire.
The Demons played about 10 games in that once-a-week league. They’ve also recently attended the Mesa State College team camp, where the emphasis is on games more than instruction.Scott Kiburis, beginning his seventh year as Grand Valley’s head boys coach, uses summer basketball as an extension of the winter season.”With our program it is very important to what we do,” he said. “We start in May with open gyms. We get together our middle school kids, some that are going into high school next year and even our seventh-graders with our returning players.”Colorado is different on it’s open gym policy from many other states, Kiburis said.Hoops: see page A30″We pretty much have free reign to do what we want with our kids. There are no restrictions. There are states where a head coach can’t even practice with his players.”
Open gyms can be held any time in the summer, except on Sundays, with a school’s coaching staff involvement. The lone other restriction to an open gym, is that no one can be turned away.”It’s really great because we get to talk with the younger kids,” Kiburis said. “All our coaches are involved. We have four coaches at our school and we can work with kids on the side.”After school ends, Kiburis also runs a summer league on Tuesday nights in June, where high school teams play two games a night. Grand Valley also competes in weekend tournaments in June and July.”We probably get in 24 games for our varsity players. For our JV, we play 20-24 games,” Kiburis noted. Younger players swaying between both levels receive more playing time.”Those kids who hare going to be sophomores because they play with the varsity and they play JV might play 40-45 games. They probably benefit the most because that’s the growth period. That’s a big step up from JV to varsity.”The Roaring Fork girls program is similar in many facets. They also hold open gyms, play in a league and attend camp. But the philosophy, third-year head coach Kirk Cheney said, is a little more laid back.
“The summer program we run at Roaring Fork is not a demanding schedule,” he said. “You show up, spend a little time in the gym, and you work on things individually.”Because summer programs are not mandatory, attendance among the players varies. It’s not due to a lack of interest, Cheney mentioned, it’s due to an individual’s work schedule, family commitments and other activities. “We’re not hounding the kids to show up – the kids that show up are the ones who want to play ball and get better and learn what’s going on. I’m not going to go out and tell the kids you either show up or you don’t play come winter, because that’s not what it’s about.”Instead, Cheney adapts his open gyms to who and how many show up.I don’t have a set structure, because I don’t know who’s going to show up each week. Last week we had six kids, this week we’re doing a little better so far. If you don’t have a lot of kids show up, we’ll do a lot of individual work.”Hire, who recently got the nod as Glenwood’s coach, has gotten accustomed to juggling his schedules as well.”Everyone’s on vacation and work schedules and other activities because it’s summertime,” he said. “For these kids, basketball’s not everything. We have a lot of kids in soccer leagues and baseball leagues, golfers … there’s a lot of stuff to do in Glenwood in the summer, so they’re out enjoying that. So it gets a little difficult, but we’ve had good turnouts for everything.”
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At long last, high school basketball teams return to the court this week as part of Colorado’s revamped winter sports lineup, which has been delayed since November due to the coronavirus.