Patriots coach lets player run practice

Bill Althaus
Truman High School boys basketball coach Rod Briggs, left, and senior forward Max Black get together before Wednesday morning's practice in the high school gymnasium. Briggs is turning the session over to Black who will lead his teammates through practice.

Max Black was the first player to arrive at Truman High School early Wednesday morning, as it was his responsibility to run his Patriot basketball teammates through a spirited practice session.

“In 30 years of coaching, I’ve found that the most successful teams are the ones run by the players, where they really feel like they have a say in what goes on at practice,” Truman coach Rod Briggs said. “So today, for the first time, I’m having a player set up our practice, and Max is the perfect player to start this.

“He loves the game as much as I do, he’s a great player, the game means a lot to him and he’s a senior – and I think he’s going to do a great job.”

The lanky senior forward paced a bit before Briggs arrived at the school, and they met to go over a few plans.

“The team is going to start in the weight room, like we always do,” Black said, “and then we’re going to watch film for about half an hour. Then, we’re going to start practice.”

And Black has the entire practice routine written out on his cell phone, so minute by minute, he and his teammates will know where to be and what to do.

“This is the first time I’ve led a practice that I’m a part of,” Black said, “and I’m a little bit nervous about it. But I think it’s going to be great. We’re all so excited to be back in the gym, working on conditioning and practicing.

“I want to get practice off in a competitive way, so we’re going to start with shooting drills. And we’ll work on offense and defense – things where you can really be competitive. Like I said, I’m a little bit nervous – kind of like the first day of school – but I think it’s all going to be great.”

When asked how he formalized his practice plan, Black had a ready answer.

“I’ve played for a lot of coaches and when I was younger, I loved coming to Truman’s game and watching coach Billy Guinnee’s teams,” Black said, referring to the former Truman coach who recently died. “I think I’ve taken a little bit from all the coaches and practices and I’ve certainly taken a lot of pieces from Coach Briggs’ practices.

“He’s such a great coach and a teacher. He’s helped to make us all better players and individuals, and to me, that’s what makes a coach a great coach.”