BHS boys emphasizing defense, conditioning
Conditioning and defense are two major focuses early in the season for first-year Baldwin High School boys' basketball coach Eric Toot.
Since beginning practice Nov. 13, Toot has been running his team, while working on their offensive and defensive fundamentals.
"I am trying to make improvements as far as implementing what we want offensively and defensively," Toot said. "I am trying to carry over the little fundamental things I think work well that I learned as a player and a coach to these guys."
Senior Sam Scott said the Bulldogs have been working hard on becoming a better defensive team.
"The big thing is how much we are learning, especially defensively," Scott said. "That's the big thing I have noticed. I think our big thing this year is going to be stopping people. We have the guys that can do that."
When he was the girls' coach at BHS, Toot was always stressing defense to his team. He carries over that same philosophy to his boys' team, but that has been hard since it's his first year coaching the program.
"Without a doubt, we are working on defense," Toot said. "To tell you the truth, we are not working on it as much as I usually do, because we have to get so much other stuff in, like our entire offense. If we were in year two or year three, I would be spending more time on the defensive end than we are now."
Senior Blake Wieden said Toot has been emphasizing defense and fundamentals so far.
"We are focusing on defense and not giving up as many points," Wieden said. "We are also learning a lot of basic fundamentals. So far, we are polishing those up before we put in the thinking part."
Toot and his players all know that a strong defensive team must be in good physical condition. That is one reason he has also been running the Bulldogs during practice.
"I've been trying to tell the kids, if you aren't in shape, it doesn't matter what we teach you," Toot said. "I think more than any sport, you have to be in shape to be successful in basketball. If you are out of shape, it will come back to haunt you."
Scott knows the Bulldogs must be conditioned to play hard defensively for an entire game.
"We are doing a fair share of conditioning," Scott said. "We are getting in shape. You have to be in shape to play defense for 32 minutes."
Wieden said the running wasn't too much, but it wasn't too little either.
"We have been doing a lot of conditioning," Wieden said. "It's the right amount. It's not overwhelming, but it's still pretty tough."
While defensive schemes and conditioning are important to a basketball team, Toot has also been trying to teach the players his offensive philosophy.
His offense can be up tempo, but he really wants to use his post players for a couple of reasons.
"We are definitely trying to get into the mindset of playing inside-outside," Toot said. "We want to run the ball in control, if we can run and take care of the ball. Offensively, running and in our half court, we want to get the ball inside. I think we've got some guys that can score and that will open up things on the outside for us, also."
Wieden has enjoyed the first seven days of practice, even though the Bulldogs are acquiring a lot of basketball knowledge early in the season.
"Practices are going really smooth," Wieden said. "Everybody seems to be working hard. We are learning a new system, but it's coming together."
The Bulldogs will be playing a scrimmage at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Baldwin Junior High School gym.