Coaches stress importance of summer hoops for high school programs

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School classrooms may be empty during the summer, but courts are busier than ever.

"Summer's almost as busy as the in-season," Matt Anderson, Marianna basketball coach said. "We'll play about 30 full games in between practices. We travel a lot. We play teams from all over the state, even the southeast."

"Our summer basketball program is integral to what we do," Michael Grady, Bay basketball coach said. "I mean, it's extremely busy. It's a time for them to stay in shape, one, and two, it's a mental toughness. You know, it's hard. Everybody is tired. Everybody is working hard, but this is how you become a better basketball player."

Coaches say summer hoops gives teams a high level of competition.

"We play 7A schools, 8A schools, state finalists," Anderson said. "It's just something that you can't get in the regular season because of scheduling conflicts, travel, and stuff like that. At camps, a lot of teams come and so you're put up against a lot of different teams from all over."

For many programs, summer's just as busy as the in-season.

"In this short amount of time, we probably are going to play 40 games over the summer," Grady said. "That is a lot of games in order to become a better basketball player."

"You see what you're going to be going up against, and who they're playing and how they play against other teams," Anderson said. "Maybe their strengths and weaknesses, and how they match up with your strengths and weaknesses."

Some coaches say teams get better during the season, but in the summer is when individual players have the chance to get better.

"Because there is no better teacher than court time," Grady said. "You can talk about it, do it on the chalkboard, you can do it in practice but there's no better teacher than letting the guys get out on the court and learn from experience."

And even though the only "break" these coaches and players get during the summer are water ones, "Well, it's just what you do in coaching," Anderson said. "You get used to it.

They wouldn't have it any other way.

"Summer break," Anderson said. "I'd probably just get really bored. Drive everybody around me crazy."

Coach Anderson and the Bulldogs, like many area teams, will go through the end of June and finish summer ball with Gulf Coast's three day team camp at the end of the month.