Coach Explains Success Of Culver Girls Basketball
(EDITOR’s NOTE: This is Part 1 of a 2-Part interview with Julian Anderson, Culver City High Girls Basketball coach)
I’ve been coaching girls’ basketball at Culver City High School for eight years. I started out as the JV coach for the first four years and this is going to be my fourth year as head coach of the girls varsity team.
In total, I’ve been coaching basketball for about 18 years. I’m only 36 years old so I began coaching when I was very young. I’m a walk-on coach and I work at the V.A. hospital in West Los Angeles.
I’ve been in basketball my whole life. I grew up in the Crenshaw area and have played since I was four years of age.
I played in high school at Dorsey. I was the point guard most of the time. When I moved up to the varsity I turned to the shooting guard position.
I started a sporting event business in 1995. To use the gym at Belmont High, I agreed to help the coach at the time during the summer.
It was a trade-off. I could use the gym, I could run a league and I could help coach her kids. I invited a young lady named Xenia who was only 12 years old at the time. She came out all summer and played with the high school girls. Her mother and I worked together. When that was over I didn’t think I was ever going to go back to coaching.
But soon after her mom came to me and said Xenia’s team coach took off and hasn’t been back in weeks and asked me if I would help. Growing up under coaches and knowing how important coaches are, I said, “Yes.” And here I am 18 years later.
This past season was surreal. We lost 12 seniors from the year before, a team that went to the CIF semifinals and qualified for State. We thought we were in this rebuilding phase. We had a couple of very good returners but we didn’t know that we would do that well.
Once the ball started rolling we played a few hard-core teams, Long Beach Poly, Serra and a few others. Even though we lost we were in those contests for most of the game. We looked and said, “Oh, we might do something here.” All of a sudden we went on a nice run and got all the way to Anaheim. So it was fun.
Toward the playoffs we actually cut practice times down. We went from two hours to an hour and a half with 30 minutes of it we spent time stretching. One of the things we talked about was that we were not going to use the word ‘playoffs.’ We were not going to use the word ‘win.’
Being such a young group, I didn’t want them to get mentally into that the playoffs were some different atmosphere or a different thing.
It seemed to work. The message was: “Every game is just the same game we played all year round. Let’s get in. Let’s practice less but with the same quality.” We practiced with the same intensity level.
We wanted to cut down the minutes to save legs and conserve energy but at the same time we wanted it to be a hard 60- minute practice.
Throughout the season the practices might go from 75% drills at the beginning and 25% scrimmage. Then we’ll go to 75% scrimmage and 25% drills toward the playoffs and beyond.
That’s how we would format the practices, a lot of shooting and a lot of working out the kinks in the offense or adjusting and tweaking something if we could but not trying to do too much.
The philosophy here is we don’t really want to put anyone on the varsity team that won’t play. We usually try to carry 12 girls. Currently during the summer we carry 15 to see who develops and makes the 12. We try to play all 12 if we can.
There were a few girls that I allowed to play from the volleyball team. They missed a lot so their times were limited but we usually use everybody. During the playoffs I probably went nine deep.
Our senior, Taylor Tanita, received a scholarship to UCSD. She was pretty much the engine of the team. She has a high I.Q. and is just a competitor.
We had a really good freshman, Kailey Tooke, and the girl from Texas, Shannon Yahn. Those were the core group of girls that were always on the floor in the mix with the supporting cast of Katie Lin, sophomore, and Kate Suyesugu, freshman. They were also big for the team.