The William Chrisman boys basketball team hasn’t had much success in recent years.
The last couple of seasons, the Bears have only won a combined 10 games and and hasn’t won a district title since the 2008-09 season.
There is one guy who is planning on changing that in the near future – Chrisman’s new head coach Jake Kates.
He was previously the head coach for the Summit Christian Academy boys basketball team and he welcomes the new challenge of turning around a struggling Chrisman program.
“This was a welcome change for me,” Kates said. “The practices have been great this offseason. We’ve been working hard. We had to change practice habits early on. We are right where I thought we would be as far as progression.”
Now that he’s with the Bears, there’s one main goal he has in mind.
“I want these guys to practice like champions,” he said.
That includes making the practices more challenging. There’s a lot of conditioning drills involved and a lot of competitions. Some of those competitions include shooting and dribbling drills and 1-on-1 and 3-on-3 games. The loser of those drills or games has to run sprints or do push ups, something that Kates hopes motivate his team to practice hard.
“They weren’t practicing that way before,” Kates said. “It’s pretty intense. That’s really good for us to have competition in here. These guys are competing for playing time, too.”
Sophomore guard Isaiah Jackson and junior shooting guard Kelvyn Mason echoed their coach’s sentiments.
“He brings high intensity to every practice and has high expectations for us,” Mason said of Kates. “Everyone is buying into it. This is the most competitive atmosphere I’ve been in at this school.”
Added Jackson: “He expects a lot out of us. He doesn’t care what grade you’re in. It doesn’t matter if it’s a freshman, he’s going to put the best five out there.”
It makes things a little easier on Kates by having four of five starters return from last year’s team. Daniel Carson and Bryan Cox come back as the team’s starting forwards. Carson was a solid inside scorer, who also rebounds well. Cox is a high-energy player who loves to crash the offensive boards.
“They look good when they are on the floor together,” Kates said of Cox and Carson. “We have the ability to play multiple styles of basketball. We can play small and play four guards. And we can go big and have them on the floor. Our versatility will be one of our strengths.”
Mason is a well-balanced guard who can drive to the basket and shoot the 3-pointer well. Dawson Herl comes back as the team’s small forward and is a good passer and has a solid mid-range jumper. Jackson likely will be the team’s starting point guard after coming off the bench last season.
With the personnel he has, Kates plans on having his team using a variety of presses on defense and plans pushing the ball consistently on offense.
“We are going to play an up-tempo style of basketball,” Kates said. “We are going to go about nine to ten deep. You can’t play this style without having a lot of guys who can play. And when we talking about putting pressure on the other team, we don’t just talk about pressing on defense. We want to pressure them when we have the ball. So the other team never has a chance to rest. Our goal is to wear on teams.”
Added Mason: “He’s going to give us a little bit of freedom in our offense. We aren’t going to have a set offense every possession. Sometimes we will just pass it and pick away and coach will just watch us play.”
That’s all a part of a vastly different Chrisman team. Kates and the rest of the team hopes it yields different results than the last two years. While the Bears aim to win a district title, they also have a short-term goal they are focusing on right now.
“At Christmas, I want us to be 6-2,” Kates said. “I want us to match our win total from last year by then. I have very high expectations. These guys are starting to believe they can do it.”
Added Mason: “We changed our mindset. We want to win every game.”