Here's the latest team to make the switch: the girls' team at McQueen High School in Reno, Nev., will open its season Nov. 30 for coach Joe Bischopink. According to Maxpreps.com, the Lancers finished 8-18 last season and Coach Bischopink reports they haven't been to the postseason since 2002. He was coaching then before taking a break for about seven years.
Now he's back and ready to tackle the brave new world of The System, which will be quite different from what he ran in the past.
"In previous seasons we always had motion offenses in place with a lot of screens geared at getting a shot in a specfiic location," Coach Bischopink wrote in an e-mail. "It is typical Nevada high school basketball. We played a lot of half-court man and quite frankly it was boring. I was often frustrated because the offense we ran was often poorly executed and by halfway through the season, we'd been scouted heavily and our opponents knew how to defend us."
I hear you, coach. Nothing irritates me more than watching a team pass the ball around the perimeter, looking for an opening. It's particularly frustrating in high school, where most states do not use a shot clock. Here's hoping Coach Bischopink is able to keep the pace going fast.
Here are his other answers to questions we all want to know (OK, so maybe it was just me, since you didn't know I was e-mailing him, but I think you'll enjoy it):
(What made you decide to go with The System?)
Coach Bischopink: "The decision to use the probably came from when I was very young. I saw Loyola Marymount play Nevada in Reno and was amazed by the uptempo game. I also saw UNLV play at Nevada the year they won the national championship and they played an uptempo style. Beyond that I just looked at the athletes I had coming back and I knew we just wouldn't have the
size. We do have incredible speed and several of the top 10 guards in the area. I had girls that hit 4-8 threes per game so The System made perfect sense. I had heard of The System a couple of years ago and was interested but I know that I have the right athletes to implement it this year."
(What type of research did you do before making the switch?)
Coach Bischopink: "I did a ton of research. The best thing I did was join the run-n-gun Yahoo! group. I purchased two DVD's, Coach (David) Arsenault's and Coach Doug Porter's at ONU. I also e-mailed a number of coaches directly with questions and received game film from Coach (Evan) Massey at Galesburg in Illinois. When we started beating good teams from California over the summer purely on quickness and shooting ability I knew that going 'all-in' to The System we could beat anybody."
(What's been the reaction from the administration and your staff?)
Coach Bischopink: "The reaction by the administration is yet to be seen. I have discussed it with our AD and Principal and they both agree that it makes sense. That being said, they probably don't completely understand how fast we will play and how quickly we will shoot. I have had some conversations about it and the staff is supportive."
(How about your players? They ready for it?)
Coach Bischopink: "Right now the players love it. They really enjoy putting points on the board in practice and scoring and hustling constantly. They know that everyone will play and that they'll get back in the game. I think there is a sense of freedom knowing that they will make some mistakes but that we literally don't have time to dwell on it. I see a lot of smiling faces in practice right now. They seem to understand that The System isn't just something we are trying for fun, for us it truly is a
necessity. We can't compete in a slow game. There is no shot clock in N. Nevada and officiating tends to be tight. The notion of doubling our scoring average from last year has them very excited."
(What are some of the hurdles you think you'll have to cross?)
Coach Bischopink: "I think the biggest hurdle will be getting them through game one. Practices have been good but I know that if the shooting is off a bit or they get frustrated in the first game, they are going to want a time-out and a regroup. We open with one of the better teams in the area. They need to believe that we will catch that team off-guard. The conditioning is another element. They understand in their head that we must be in great shape but not necessarily in their hearts yet."
(What do you expect to get out of The System?)
Coach Bischopink: "We expect simply to win from using The System. I agree that it will be a more positive way of playing for everyone. We want fans in the stands, records to be broken and our opponents to be shocked."
There you have it. I wish him and the Lancers all the luck in the world this season. Anyone who has read this blog before knows that teams making the transition from traditional hoops to The System struggle from time to time. But when it's on, it is really on, and I think that's what he meant by shocking some opponents.
We'll track Coach Bischopink and his team throughout the season and give you regular updates.