Sunday, August 14, 2011

Keith Freund: 'I am System for life!'

I am finally ready to admit that I have an addiction. No, not that. Or that. It is The System, of course, that wonderful, amazing, way of playing basketball that has engulfed me. At this point, I can't get enough of it.

Believing in something so much can present a problem, such as fellow basketball-crazed fans who don't share my belief in The System (you know who you are, Johnny Rain Cloud.) Or other coaches and players who feel as if it is a gimmick, a fad, or some other type of passing phenomenon. Sure, try telling that to David Arseneault, who came up with this style nearly 20 years ago and still wins regularly with it.

All this is why I was surprised, and, yes, somewhat disappointed to hear last season that one of our own, a coach making terrific use of The System, would no longer use it when his current crop of players used up their eligibility. Keith Freund, the girls' coach at North Shore HS in Glen Head, N.Y., got as much out of it as anyone this past season, leading the Vikings to a 16-3 record (including 12-0 in their conference) and a trip to quarterfinals of the state tournament.

Coach Freund has a solid rotation of girls now, yet felt when he no longer had the talent to go at least 10-deep, he would have to adjust his plan. You know, the old adage that you coach to your team's skill level.

Well, shortly after the regular season ended, he posted the following on the Yahoo! message board devoted to The System regarding his ideas about the present and the future. It was one of the best things I've read regarding The System, and with his approval, I wanted to share it with you.

And, yes, I know if you're not sold on my favorite way to play the game, this likely won't change your mind. That used to bother me somewhat. I felt a bit like the art lover who sees a certain beauty and longevity in a single work of art, only to discover there are those who mock the painting, the artist and anyone who feels differently.

I'm good with it all now. There are enough of "us" out there to feed my passion, my obsession, and, yes, my addiction. I'm happy to say that group now includes Coach Freund, as you'll see from his message here from shortly after the season ended:

Coach Freund: "I've often said on this website that if I did not have the kids to run The System, I would stop. Two years from now, we are going to be seven deep and I've said over and over, we will not be a System team then.

"Outside forces are railing against that thought, however. I met with my AD yesterday and when discussing it, he said I was crazy. He said he is a believer and it is the best way to play and I would be crazy to change, just develop 3 more kids he said (pretty good point considering I have 2 years for that). I went home and told my wife and she said, 'I told you so,' and if I ever stop playing this way, she is going to stop going to the games.

"Then, last night at the Senior Game practice, the kids asked to run our offense and after explaining it, you should have seen their faces. The smiles, the 'for real?' looks. It was like unleashing a puppy and watching them play. They were so excited. Some of the college coaches watching starting taking out their notebooks and copying it down and afterwards asked if they could call me.

"The other coach with me was saying that he is going System next year and that I am revolutionizing basketball on Long Island and he believes from speaking with other coaches, that about 10-15 are going to go System in the next few years and that I cannot change. He watched us twice this year and said how much he loved it and loved watching our bench.

"After three encounters with people whom I really respect, I guess I am System For Life and instead of worrying about which kids cannot run it, I will worry about developing kids who can."
Incredible stuff there from Coach Freund. I am so happy he feels this way and will embrace The System. Certainly, it isn't the only way to play the game, and I never would say that. It simply is the most fun way I have ever seen.

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