Since today is the first day of official basketball practice for high schools (at least in my area), I interviewed De La Salle High School’s (CA) Head Coach Frank Allocco. Allocco has won two C.I.F. State Championships during his tenure at DLS and is regarded by many as the best high school basketball coach in the state. Before his season started, he answered several questions about preparing for the season and sustaining excellence.
BM: As the first official practice of the season approaches, how do you plan for the up-coming season? Do you have a season plan?
FA: We definitely have a Season Plan. We will begin with the building blocks of our offense and defense with special emphasis on fundamentals. As the year progresses, we will adjust our schedule to involve more team play.
BM: What are the biggest deficiencies for players moving from freshman orto varsity basketball? Or, put another way, what areas tend to have the most room for growth?
FA: Players must adjust to the speed and physical play of varsity basketball. Quickness, jumping ability must improve dramatically. Moving without the ball, getting themselves open for good shots is always challenging for a player entering varsity.
BM: Do you lift weights as a team in-season? If so, how often?
FA: Yes, we try to maintain a weight lifting protocol a couple of times a week. Managing time to do everything you would like to do without interfering with the academic workload is quite a balancing act. However, Academics comes first……
BM: What do you emphasize in training? Obviously everyone wants to be great at everything, but what do you emphasize in particular?
FA: Fundamentals, teach kids how to play. Whatever you emphasize as a coach is what you will get.
BM: How do you manage to sustain excellence year-in and year-out?
FA: We have created a culture of working hard and sacrificing for the good of the team. Our players are “other-centered” rather than “self-centered.” Our defensive tradition is consistent regardless of the talent level that we may have or may not have during a given year.
BM: What do you think is the most important attribute or characteristic of a great practice?
FA:, keep practice on task, moving briskly, keeping players interested, challenging them to want to improve.
BM: What is the first step that a coach can take to develop a championship team?
FA: Set lofty goals and sell your players on the things that they will have to do to get there. Believe in yourself, your plan, and your team.