Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Catching up with Andy Hoaglin, the coach at Jackson (Mich.) CC

Dreadfully few coaches are brave enough (smart enough?) to see the wisdom of Running The System, so us loyal followers have to make due with the wonderful results of those couple of dozen or so that do. And of those, ye ol' blog regularly followers about six or seven of them. Of all those teams, none put up the type of numbers seen this season by the women's team at Jackson (Mich.) Community College.

The Lady Jets won 18 of their final 23 games to finish 19-12, and along the way, coach Andy Hoaglin's bunch got stupid with the shots and points. We've covered a handful of the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II records set by this FIRST-YEAR System team -- averaging 103.6 points, shooting 1,550 3-pointers -- and I was able to track down a few more (or, at least, had them e-mailed to me by Coach Hoaglin). Here you have it:

- Most turnovers forced in a single game (59)
- Most turnovers forced in a season (1,192, or about 38.5 per game)
- Most combined points in a game (during a 133-131 double-overtime loss to Edison State CC in Ohio)
- Most attempted 3-pointers in a single game (79)
- Most shots attempted in a game (the Jets actually have the top three totals: 147, 140 and 134)

Pretty amazing, right? And this came after Coach Hoaglin decided to convert to the best brand of basketball around AFTER he already had completed his recruiting. Now, with a full season under his belt, he's ready for more, and he was kind enough to join me on the phone to discuss his success with The System.

(What made you make the change?)

Coach Hoaglin: "I was kind of fed up coaching the traditional way, and I ran a variety of traditional offenses: the Swing, the read and react. I was looking for something that was a little more enjoyable, something that would get everybody involved and at the same time, be competitive. I was sitting on the computer on (coaching guru) Pat Anderson's Website, and this thing pops up, the CBS Sports March Madness, look at Grinnell. I watched that thing and just kind of decided I was going to educate myself.

"I decided in July, on my trip to Disney World, that I would implement The System. I didn't recruit for it, but I knew I had some cogs that would work, I just had to educate them."

(How would you say your first season went?)

Coach Hoaglin: "I think it went even better than I could have expected. At first, I told the team we were just going to play fast. I showed them some game film of Olivet Nazarene (another one of this blog's favorite teams), and they looked at me like, 'Yeah, coach, no problem. What are you doing? This is going to be crazy.' It took some time, but they eventually got it."

(What were some of the early problems?)

Coach Hoaglin: "Our biggest problem, at 1-7, is we didn't know what we didn't know. We started to play more safe, trying to execute better, and we gave up some points. We learned we had to play this way the whole game and worry about The System Formula, and the rest will take care of itself.

"In one game, we were just playing horribly, and we were getting drilled. Only after I sat down and shut my mouth did we execute. I found out letting them play was the way to go. Once I sat down and relaxed, our performance got better. It was hard, and it's still hard, but that's what I have to do."

(What do you expect out of this season?)

Coach Hoaglin: "We're returning 10 really great pieces from last year's team, and that's a big thing. We actively recruited four new players for our needs, so we got shooters, we got athletic kids. Our sophomore class is going to be the strong suit. My recruiting class, based on what we need to do in The System, well, let's just say I'm definitely cautiously optimistic."

(What do you like about The System? Would you like to see more coaches go with it?)

Coach Hoaglin: "I definitely like the fact that it's unique. I'd like to see a high school that can feed me players, or a boys' team at a local high school, but I definitely like to be unique. It's a nice way for us to brand ourselves, at the local, regional and national level. When we go recruit, we can tell players they get to experience something that nobody else is doing and feel good about it. They can be a part of history, write their names, all our names, in the record book. So somebody can say about them, 'You played for Jackson, you guys scored all those points.'

"I just love being able to be unique. I don't think a lot of people are going to be moving to The System."

(How do you think your players like it?)

Coach Hoaglin: "Well, in our open gyms, I can't be involved, so our players run the open gyms. They press the whole time, just like we will in games, they're subbing in and out every 30 seconds, they shoot 3s all the time. It's great."

Well, I guess that covers it. A huge thanks to Coach Hoaglin for his time, and I know I speak for all of us when I say I hope he has an even better season this year. It sure sounds as if he's possible.

Also, make sure you check back later in the week. I'll have more updates for you on The System.

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