Thursday, November 11, 2010

Another coach explains why he runs The System

I never get tired of these posts, hearing (or reading, to be specific) from coaches who are recent converts to the simplistically perfect form of basketball.

Next up is Glen Irvin, the girls' coach at Wabasha-Kellogg High School in Wabasha, Minn., who began running The System last season. Previously, Coach Irvin said he was a huge advocate for the high-low offense run by Bill Self at Kansas; defensively, he employed a 1-3-1 trap. All solid strategies, but I'm glad he made the switch.

He opens his season Dec. 2, against Lewiston-Altura, and you can be sure I will check back for updates on his season. Coach Irvin is one of the frequent posters on the message board devoted to this style of play, and it's been interesting to see his transformation (if that's the correct word) from neophyte to veteran. Over the past couple of months, he has given sage advice to others out there thinking of experimenting with The System, and it's easy to tell he's a believer.

His goals for this season are:

- Attempt 80 shots
- Attempt 40 3-pointers
- Rebound 40 percent of the misses on offense
- Force 30 turnovers
- Attempt 15 more shots than the opponent

On to the questions:

(What made you decide to use this style?)

Coach Irvin: "After a tough loss, in a game where we shot the ball only thirty times total in the game, one of my assistant coaches jokingly said to me, 'Well, we could just implement the Grinnell system and let the girls shoot the ball a hundred times a game.' I didn't catch his joke as I had never even heard of Grinnell or the system, but I went onto Youtube that night and typed in Grinnell and what I saw was permanently ingrained into my brain."

(What was the biggest hurdle in making the change?)

Coach Irvin: "I have to say that the biggest hurdle was me throughout the year. The more I tweaked with it, the more I messed it up. My assistants were/are godsends! They had such a positive attitude throughout the entire year. At first the girls basically said, 'We're going to do what?' Once they started practice, the majority of them loved it. I had a set of parents who walked up to me halfway through the season after 40-point loss, shook my hand and said, 'Coach, thank you for getting our daughter to play ball this year (she hadn't played since she was a freshman). We LOVE everything you are doing this year!' Then, of course, there are parents who criticize...but that happens no matter what system you are using."

(Now that you've gone to it, have you gotten out of it what you wanted? Do you see yourself ever changing again?)

Coach Irvin: "I haven't been this excited for a season to start ... EVER! So I think I've gotten a lot out of it! I can't imagine going back! Actually on a few occasions this summer we were forced to play 'typical style basketball because I didn't have the numbers needed to press ... wow that was boring!!"

(What do you expect from this year?)

Coach Irvin: "Our team this year only lost three senior players and comes back with tons of varsity 'playing' experience. We started all 15 girls last year and all of them played significant minutes throughout the season. We are returning 90% of our scoring! We played system ball all summer and are ready to turn a corner and take it to the next level."

Thanks to Coach Irvin for taking the time to correspond with me, and I wish him and his team the best of luck this season. I've asked if I can request regular updates from him, and he was gracious enough to agree, so we haven't heard the last of the Wabasha-Kellogg Eagles.

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