Before practice this afternoon, the Free State girls basketball team will crowd into coach Bryan Duncan’s classroom and thoroughly dissect the Lions from Lawrence High.
Duncan will analyze the Lions’ offensive sets, their offensive tendencies, and the shooting abilities of all the players likely to see time, among other things. Seemingly no facet of the Lions’ game will go untouched in the thirty-minute session, which Duncan called Basketball 101.
Junior Lynn Robinson knows she better pay attention, both so she can gain an edge in the city showdown on Friday and avoid Duncan’s ire.
“He actually did say last time that next year, he’s going to make it a requirement to take notes,” Robinson said.
The effectiveness of the scouting reports produced by the coaching staffs at Free State and Lawrence High will help determine who will win Friday’s game at FSHS. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m.
Because the Firebirds (9-10) and Lions (6-13) have already met this season — Free State won 44-35 in The Jungle — proper preparation might actually be the difference.
When preparing his team for its next opponent, Lawrence High coach Nick Wood covers most of the same things that Duncan covers. He finds that when his team adheres to the scouting report, it can be very beneficial.
Wood also uses JV players — the “scout team” — to provide his varsity players with a look at what the opponent might do on offense or defense.
He’s careful to not overload the varsity players with numbers and tendencies, though.
“You don’t want to give them too much to think about,” Wood said.
Duncan echoed that sentiment, realizing that his team of young and mostly inexperienced players is still learning that you have to guard people differently depending on their abilities.
Robinson said that her younger teammates didn’t really use the scouting report to their advantage a couple months ago, but they’re learning.
“Towards the end of the season, you realize that it actually helps to know who the shooters are and who can do what,” Robinson said.
Pointing out the opponent’s three-point shooters is often a main focus of the Firebirds’ reports, in large part because the Firebirds are a small team that often has to double team in the post.
Duncan and his staff chart the opponent’s three-point shots, so they can determine which players can help in the post and which should stay tightly with the shooter.
Other scouting factors will come into play on Friday, including the fact that many of the Firebirds and Lions have played on the same teams in the summer.
Wood and Duncan both said that their players often know more than the coaching staffs about the players on the other city team.
It’s a rivalry game, so it always means something, but the outcome won’t affect either team’s substate matchup. The Lions will play at Olathe Northwest and the Firebirds will play Topeka High next Thursday.
Because the Lions just played Olathe Northwest, they’ll already have a pretty good grasp on the Ravens. Free State didn’t play Topeka this season, but Duncan has already acquired two game tapes from coaches outside the Sunflower League.
“That’s one of the advantages of getting to know other coaches in other leagues and playing against people outside your league — you get to know people,” Duncan said.
But neither coach is focusing much on their substate games yet in advance of Friday’s game.
Today, the players’ focus will be on the scouting report and Friday’s game. Robinson will sit in Duncan’s classroom, trying to learn what the Lions want to do.
And since she knows the names of most of the Lions, remembering how they play won’t be difficult.
“It’s a lot easier since I’ve known most of them since junior high,” Robinson said.