Culver City Observer -

Centaur Coach Explains The Value Of Practice

Hard Work Makes Girls Better Players


December 18, 2014

Fred Altieri

Coach Julian Anderson and his team

By Fred Altieri

Sports Reporter

"... We sittin' in here, I'm supposed to be the franchise player and we in here talkin' about practice. I mean listen, we talkin' bout practice. Not a game, not a game, not a game.

"We talkin' bout practice. Not a game, not a, not a, not the game that I go out there and die for and play every game like its my last. Not the game. We talkin' bout practice, man. I mean how silly is that? We talkin' bout practice..."

Allen Iverson's universally misunderstood but immortal rant about practice on May 7, 2002 will forever grow in stature not only in basketball lore but also in leagues beyond. And the current and future coaches of the world will forever be indebted to the former Philadelphia 76er star as they continue to define the word and employ the principle until the very last game is ever played.

The Culver City High girls basketball team led by head coach Julian Anderson is a prime example of how practice and its implementation can propel a program from relative obscurity to the championship level despite being physically out-sized by most of their competition and restrained by the recruitment bylaws governing a majority of the public high schools competing under the CIF umbrella.

The CIF Division 2AA defending champion Centaurs are currently 6-3 after two tournaments in the 2014-15 season. They swept all five games to win the opening tournament of the season and then got invited to the McDonald's Classic in El Paso, Texas where they won the first game against host Eastwood High, 40-33.

They had their chances in the next three games before eventually succumbing in the later stages of each to: Granada Hills, 44-31; Burges, 57-50; and Sierra Canyon, 53-38.

They are currently preparing for their next tournament beginning December 27 in Las Vegas before the league season begins in January.

Coach Anderson gave his thoughts on practice as he ran his team through the paces this past Saturday morning at nine o'clock sharp in Culver's Del Goodyear Gymnasium: "The main purpose of practice is to develop and get better. Our practice today is for individual development.

"We start off by dribbling the basketball and working on ball-handling skills for about five or ten minutes. Then we go into a circuit. We work on a lot of basic shooting drills. Then we'll get into types of shots that we shoot in games. Hopefully the technique will get better and sharper."

A number of drills the Centaurs work on are not for the faint of heart. This day the diving drill involved each player diving for a loose ball thrown toward the other end of the court. Usually it involves multiple players.

Anderson: "The diving drills are to teach them how to dive for balls. We usually throw one ball and two girls go after it. We're just teaching them how to fight for the ball. Teams like we have are never big so we have to be very tough.

"We have to be unique in the sense of I like to tell the girls that the other team will think we're crazy, that we're willing to dive over the table for the ball. We have to be willing to knock people down and be willing to put our nose into it."

Each practice is specifically designed before the season even begins. Anderson revealed: "9.5 out of 10 I have a practice plan for each practice. All of my practice plans are done for the whole season. But they get edited as I might take one or two drills out of one practice based on what we did in the last game, the last tournament.

"It's about what packages that we want completed by a certain number of days. Do we want man-to-man done by a certain tournament? Do we want a zone by the second tournament? Do we want a press done by a certain point in the season? So by the time playoffs come we have everything in. Again, we do modify it."

As recent as last week Kobe Bryant of the Lakers had this to say to reporters immediately following the now-infamous practice session that stirred an over-reaction in local and national sports media outlets: "Hopefully the guys can kind of carry the energy of this practice a little bit. But as often as I can get out there and do what I did today I'm all for it. I have so much fun being out there, just the level of excitement to be able to play and compete in practice. I've always enjoyed practices more than the games actually."

Anderson shares Kobe's mentality: "Most don't believe it but practice is better than the games. Sometimes I'm so anxious to get a game over with in order to go to practice just to correct all the things we did wrong.

"There are those that go to a gym that work on technique for an hour and get out. They're better than 90% of everyone else. That's Kobe.

"Kobe's so good because he technically works on things for hours on end. So not only does he put in the amount of time he puts in the right time. He doesn't waste it on just throwing the shots in.

"The biggest challenge is making our girls play out of their comfort zone. Many players don't work on the right stuff. You can't think that coming to the gym for five hours is work ethic because it's not. A kid that comes in for an hour and does something correctly for an hour will get better than a kid that comes in for five hours but doesn't work correctly.

"It's not how many you do, it's how. It's being uncompromising about techniques. That's the key. That's everything.

Fred Altieri

Team Manager Megan Montez

"In practice you can do whatever you want. You're still playing basketball, right? There's a difference because you can do whatever you want, work on whatever your weaknesses are so you get better. When you look at practice like that the games start to become easier.

"I still believe that the better each individual gets the better the team is going to play. When they become better at their respective positions, better athletes and better basketball players then fixing those things become easier. 50% is the skill and the other 50% is the experience.

"We don't have another game until the 27th of December so that's why we're pushing a lot of development stuff, a lot of two-on-one situations. We have eight days to work on our plays. If we can't get it in eight days we shouldn't be out here."


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