Archive for Thursday, June 24, 2004

Cooper to lead BHS boys basketball

June 24, 2004

Baldwin High School has a new head boys basketball coach. Heath Cooper was hired last week by the Baldwin School Board to fill the position.

Cooper, a University of Kansas graduate, has been an assistant varsity basketball coach and head sophomore coach at Raytown (Mo.) High School for the last three years. Prior to that, he student taught at J.C. Harmon High School in Kansas City and coaches baseball.

He looks forward to the challenge of his new position with the Bulldogs.

"No question about it, it's a great opportunity for me," said Cooper. "It's my first head coaching position. I've met with several of the guys, like what I see and think we can have some success quickly."

Bret Jones, assistant BHS principal, said Cooper was a good choice.

"He's very sharp, very articulate," said Jones. "He's ready to be a head coach. I think he'll do a good job. We wouldn't have hired him if we didn't think he could do the job."

Cooper will teach science at BHS.

"I think he'll do an exceptional job in the science department," said Jones.

Cooper has spent the last three years soaking in the basketball wisdom of Raytown coach Mark Scanlon, who has been at the helm for 18 years.

"He's a great coach," Cooper said of Scanlon. "I learned a lot from him. What I plan to do is use a mixture of what I learned from him and what I think should be done. We had good athletes at Raytown and liked to get up and down the court."

Cooper believes in an up-tempo game, but says it won't be out of control.

"I want to play an up-tempo game, get up and down the floor," said Cooper. "It won't be slow paced, but it won't be crazy and out of control. We want to surprise some people with what we do.

"We'll use high-pressure defense with ball pressure all the time," he said. "We'll use some full-court pressure and some half-court trap. We want to turn defense into offense."

Since he was hired, Cooper has been making the trek from his Overland Park home to be at BHS every morning for weights, starting at 6 a.m. and going until 9 a.m., Monday through Thursday. Next week he plans on being at BHS everyday until about noon.

"We've already got a couple of guys coming in for weights and we expect that number to grow," said Cooper. "Kansas rules are much different than what I've been used to. Next week I'll start working with three players at a time on fundamentals and other areas of the game."

Kansas rules prohibit working with more than three varsity players at a time, with a few exceptions. One of those is with a basketball camp, which Cooper plans to run July 12-16. The camp is called the Doghouse and will run in two shifts. From 7:15 a.m. to 9:15 a.m., the juniors and seniors will be in camp. From 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., the camp will be for freshmen and sophomores.

"We were looking to do an elementary and junior high camp, but (Baker) coach (Rick) Weaver has one going that same week," he said. "With my late hiring, we just weren't able to work anything out as far as an elementary and junior high camp, but we'll try to do that next year."

Cooper -- who replaces Jeff Haas, who resigned the BHS boys coaching position in May -- hasn't been able to see much of the players he'll have next year, but knows that will change.

"I've seen some of them play a little bit at Baker," he said. "I know (junior) Jeremy Wright is a heck of a player, but there are several others that will be right up there, too."

He already knows, too, as a KU grad that he likes the location south of Lawrence.

"It's good to be home," said Cooper. "On the Missouri side, I was the enemy."

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