BHS boys basketball team combines running with drills
On Monday, the Baldwin High School boys’ basketball team hit the court … running.
Not necessarily sprints up and down the court to get into shape early in the season. Although coach Eric Toot had his players do some of that Monday afternoon, the Bulldogs got their exercise while using a basketball.
They also had their best first-day practice during Toot’s tenure, which began in 2006. He was thrilled about the opening session.
“It was absolutely great,” Toot said. “The kids were very excited and played very hard, as they should on the first day. It was great to be back in the gym. I would say it was easily our best first practice in our four years here, especially with the intensity. Part of that is the kids are familiar with what we are doing, so we were able to go a bit faster on the first day.”
For senior Camdon Schwartz, it meant a lot to be back on the court. He even said the team was better conditioned than he imagined.
“We started with a good day,” said Schwartz. “We all came out and were working hard. We were in better shape than I thought we’d be on the first day. I love basketball. It’s one of my favorite sports. I love playing it and I like hanging out with all of the guys on the team.”
Like most early season practices in any sport, conditioning was implemented for the Bulldogs Monday. Toot did have his players run lines at the end of practice, but he tried to incorporate running with many of the drills.
The Bulldogs ran during their offensive and defensive drills. They also got up and down the court during rebounding drills Monday.
“The thing that I was most surprised about was that our kids were in excellent shape for the most part,” Toot said. “Overall, our conditioning seemed pretty good for the first day or practice. I’m sure their legs will get tired as we move on through the week, but they really fought through it yesterday.”
Schwartz said he handled the conditioning fairly well, but saw some players struggling. He was impressed with the number of players who didn’t play a fall sport, but ran well Monday. He said most of them participated in a fall conditioning and weight lifting program that benefited them while others played football, soccer or cross country.
“It was good. It didn’t kill me too badly,” he said. “I saw some guys really dying, but I think Power Dogs really helps those guys that don’t play football or another fall sport, because they are working out instead of home playing video games.”
In fact, Toot was pleased with his team’s effort during the entire practice. He was happy that the players came ready to play and work hard.
“We actually pretty much just got after it yesterday,” he said. “We did a lot of rebounding, because I really want that to be one of our focuses this year. We will be doing that a lot during these first few weeks. I want us to rebound and get after it that way.”
The Bulldogs have benefited from returning many players who saw significant minutes on the varsity team a year ago. That leadership and experience has been visible at practice.
“Without a doubt, we have great leadership on this team,” Toot said. “There seemed to be a lot of talking going on yesterday, along with enthusiasm. The key with a long season is to keep that going. Hopefully, we can do that.”
“It helps to return as many guys as we did,” he said. “It also helps to have many of the guys play together during the summer like we did. It’s nice when you can focus on the game for months, but most of us who played a fall sport have picked it up quickly once again.”
Baldwin will begin its season Dec. 4 at Central Heights. Then BHS will travel to Burlington for three games the following week as it plays in the Bulldog/Wildcat Classic for the third straight year. BHS will end the month at home on Dec. 15 as it hosts De Soto.
Toot hopes the next two weeks are enough time to prepare for that season opener.
“We’re going to try and scrimmage a lot more this year,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of spots up for grabs. I think there is going to be a lot of competition. So, I want to get them in some game situations where we can actually evaluate them. Then we can look back at the film and dissect things that way, which will help us make decisions as coaches.”