Do you know how high you can jump? Have you timed yourself in a mile-and-a-half run? What about the most weight you can lift while lying prone on a bench? Our basketball team had all those questions answered this week. Joe Quinlin, our strength and conditioning coach, put the players through the paces of preseason testing.
I just have one test. Can you shoot a basketball with someone charging you like a mad bull and only a few seconds on the clock, your team down by a point, and the extension of our season depending on your accuracy?
Sometimes jumping, running and lifting skills help answer my test, but not always. Take Mandy Schumacher for example. She was a post player that played for me at Northwest from 2004-2007. Ask Mandy how high she could jump, she probably would conveniently forget. She was really hindered by a knee that had no cartilage after years of basketball. That didn’t stop her from putting up big numbers on some of the best MIAA post players. One year, I recruited a post player that was much more athletic than Mandy. She took one look at Mandy practicing and told me she could swat any of Mandy’s shots. The first time they faced off, you could see the look on her face, knowing she was going to destroy Mandy’s shot. Mandy didn’t even let her get off the ground. I don’t know how she did it, but Mandy could hook, hold, or push her defender so they were frozen like a block of ice. She figured if she couldn’t jump very high, why should her defender be able to jump? The best part is she very seldom was caught by the officials.
Marissa Maaske, a point guard that played for me at Doane College, was another player that had a quirk to her athleticism. When she first arrived on campus and started to get in shape, I thought I had a decent point guard with average speed. Marissa couldn’t win any of the sprints in preseason drills. However, put her in a race where you had to change directions, I never saw her get beat. Marissa could turn faster than any player I’ve ever coached. She became a Kodiak All-American at Doane College and is without a doubt one of the best point guards I’ve coached.
It’s great to have athleticism if you are going to be a college basketball player. When I began my college coaching career at Doane, the men’s coach never tested anything, including vertical jump.
He told me one of the best players he ever coached, a point guard by the name of Terry Eggers, couldn’t jump high enough to get toilet paper under his shoes. That didn’t stop Terry from leading his college team in scoring and assists.
Terry’s coach was Bob Erickson. He was a no-nonsense type of coach that only looked for one thing – can you help me win games? I will never forget his favorite saying. I was about to institute a curfew on my college players. I also was testing for strength, quickness and jumping ability. I thought it could help me find my best players. He watched in disgust and told me, “Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face.”
I never really understood what Bob meant by that statement until I coached people like Mandy and Marissa. Had I taken them at face value, I probably wouldn’t have given them much of a chance. Thank goodness I didn’t cut off my nose and allowed them to become stars.
What do they say about the size of the dog in the fight vs. the size of the fight in the dog? Just don’t cut off the dog’s nose.