Josh Daniel has spent the past six seasons installing intricate passing and weaving offenses at Class AA Herbert Hoover. He did it well enough to earn the Huskies their first-ever state tournament berth in 2017.
But now that Daniel has returned to his alma mater, Class AAA South Charleston, as coach, will he still be able to run the same plays? After all, the Black Eagles have long been known for their running and gunning ways, even when Daniel was playing from 2002-06.
“It’s been an adjustment,’’ said Daniel, who was SC’s career points leader when he graduated in 2006. The mark was broken in 2016 by Brandon Knapper.
“We’re starting to settle in [as coaches], and I think the kids are starting to settle in with how we want to play and our expectations. When you’re established at a place, you’ve only got to [get acquainted with] a few kids. To me, it’s 21 kids and they’re all new.’’
The Black Eagles have a few experienced players, although they may be asked to do different things than they did for former coach Vic Herbert, a disciple of the fast-break teams at Logan.
“We’ve tried to simplify things for them,’’ Daniel said. “We’re trying to make it as easy as possible. It’s better to be good at a few things than average at a bunch of things. We haven’t thrown too much at them, and I think they’re adjusting well. They’ve got a long way to go, but the potential’s there to have a good team, a good season.’’
So will it be more Hoover weave or SC transition?
“We’re definitely pushing the ball in transition more than I did at Hoover,’’ Daniel said. “We want to get up and down and create opportunities in transition. In the half-court offense, I’m trying to do the same things I did at Hoover. That’s kind of where we’ve been trying to simplify things for them.
“Kids learning our system, by years two, three, four, they’ve learned our system. We’re calling the terminology for them right now and that’s one of the things we’ve got to get better at. Half-court offense, it’ll come the more we practice. Defensively, we try to play a lot faster.’’
Gw in transition, too?
George Washington has some height and some quickness on this year’s roster, but maybe not as much overall athleticism as some of its recent teams.
So the Patriots’ Rick Greene might be another coach working on fine-tuning his system.
“I just think maybe we don’t have the luxury of jumping and running and stuff,’’ Greene said. “We have to be more fundamentally sound and do the little things well. Not just free-lancing it, or running up and down — but depending on each other.’’
The Patriots certainly have some experience to work with, as they sport nine players who saw extensive varsity minutes last season.
GW opens its season at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in Ashland, Kentucky, against East Carter during the Boyd County Roundball Classic.
SSAC officials haven’t released any details on how the girls and boys state tournaments will look in March of 2021, the first season for its new four-class system. Certainly, it will involve at least one more day of play than the traditional start of Wednesday under the current three-class system.
At least one West Virginia coach thinks the SSAC should look outside the box — or, in this case, outside the Charleston Coliseum, long-time site of the state tournament.
“I thought of doing the first round like the NCAA, with four regional sites,’’ said veteran Wheeling Central girls coach Penn Kurtz. “Put one tournament in Morgantown, one in Huntington, one in Bluefield, one in Martinsburg — or Charleston. Play four games Tuesday at those sites — one single-A, double-A, triple-A, quad-A. I’d think WVU would love to have those four schools on their campus for a day.
“Teams that win in the morning session could go on to Charleston, get there and play the next day. Teams that play in the evening go the next day. Then it’s the normal format when you get to Charleston. That takes the tournament across the state — girls one week, boys the next. I think it would be great to have four regional sites. Cities would compete to bid on those to get a little money.’’
Kurtz said he doesn’t want to completely revamp the state tournament — just make it more accessible for fans across the state and perhaps ease some travel concerns for some.
“I’m probably more concerned with figuring out the logistics,’’ Kurtz said if the tournament is kept completely in Charleston. “These are students who are supposed to be in school. There might be a case where you win a game Tuesday and then you don’t play again until Friday. If that’s us, we’ll have to come home and go back down and play Friday. I’d feel sorry for parents who have to reserve hotel rooms for a whole week.
“It’s a great tournament and no matter how they do it, it will be great. It’s the most fun for a high school student to play in their state tournament. It’s a thrill and an honor, and as long as you have an opportunity to make it, it’s all you can ask for as a coach.’’