By Darren Lum
Published Nov. 15 2016
After the Kawartha championship season with the seniors last year coach Gord Cochrane is excited about taking the reins of the juniors as its new head coach.
This was somewhat unexpected since the role change was the result of last year’s head coach Dave Waito deciding to step back from the top position to spend more time with his newborn son.
Cochrane has always endorsed the idea that family comes first and was at the heart of why he (a retired lawyer) never really golfed to regularly spend time with his children
“How can I get angry when you throw my own words back at me” he said referring to how Waito delivered his message about stepping back.
The role change has been made easier because of help from Waito and assistant coach Mike Rieger.
Coincidentally Rieger will also be stepping back slightly when his twins are born in December. Cochrane laughed about how he isn’t sure what he’ll do without Rieger.
“I totally understand what they’re doing on the team because I always said the most important thing you can give your child is your time. I said that about my children so I agree completely with what they’re doing” he said.
Cochrane and his staff will coach the younger squad because of the program’s four year approach to have the same set of players be coached by the same coaching staff.
Conversely the senior team is being helmed by last year’s junior staff of head coach Sam Longo and assistants Dan LaPierre and Sam Little.
The first week the juniors had close to 16 guys out for the team.
Cochrane already knows a few of the players because some of them worked out with him in his summer instruction offering for young people run through Dysart et al.
With the exception of two Grade 9s the junior team comprises of Grade 10s. However despite the older group the team will be working on the fundamental skills.
“We’re spending a lot of time on working on layups. Right hand layups left hand layups dribbling right handed dribbling left handed. We’re trying to work with them on rebounding and shooting free throws. Right now we’re working on fundamentals” he said.
Like the seniors the juniors will be facing a new rule for the Kawartha High School Basketball League.
Offensive and defensive strategies will face a 35 second shot clock which is a FIBA (Fédération Internationale de Basketball) rule. The team with the ball has 35 seconds to make an attempt for a shot that must hit the rim to reset it. The shot clock starts once a player with the ball crosses half-court. Inability to do so will result in a shot clock violation resulting in loss of ball possession. Coincidentally the HHSS gym is already prepared because when it was built it included a pair of shot clocks one at each end of the gym on the wall. Cochrane wasn’t sure if every school will be able to accommodate the rule.
Cochrane said the team is already working on an offence that was successful for the senior team last year.
“We’re going to run a motion-offense like the senior team did last year. We’re slowly getting them into the offense because they haven’t played a motion-offense before” he said.
As a person from Chicago Cochrane isn’t too familiar with hunting culture but he is learning. A few of his players this past week were absent because of hunting.
“That’s totally different for me from Chicago” he said. “I told them last week it’s ok if you go hunting but understand when you’re hunting other people are moving ahead of you in playing time but I understand the culture up here.”
The team can expect Cochrane and the staff to be tough on them as they expect and want.
He’s told them referring to famous coach quotes why he will be tough.
“If I didn’t care I wouldn’t be hard on you. One coach said: I care about you too much to let a mistake go and not correct it. It’ll be a fun year. They’re nice kids. I like them” he said.
The team will travel with the seniors to gain invaluable experience when it plays in a tournament on Nov. 18 in Peterborough. The team is guaranteed three games.
“It’s good for them to get the experience of playing with one another and playing against other people” he said.