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OAKLAND'S OWN: Kimball takes coaches to school

Basketball academy is a learning experience

September 25, 2003


They filed in, one by one, two at a time, three in a group, with notepads and open ears.

The teachers became the students.

On Saturday, Royal Oak Kimball hosted its fifth Knights Basketball Coaching Academy, designed to expand the basketball IQ of coaches at all levels.

The mastermind is Kimball boys basketball coach Paul Galbenski, who saw a void in his fraternity and wanted to do something about it.

"Before I got the head coaching job here at Kimball and I was an assistant at Bishop Foley, I always had this idea that I wanted to have an academy for coaches that are just getting started," Galbenski said. "I've been in it for 13 years and I think, what is it I would like to have had when I got into coaching?"

In its first year, the academy drew an impassioned group of 35 coaches. Word has spread and this year there were nearly 100 coaches from all levels.

Michigan State University students, who take basketball class on campus, attended. There were local high school coaches, some who have coached for a few years, and some rookies.

"It was close, for one thing, and I've been out of coaching for a couple years and this is the first time I've seen something like this in this area, so I thought I'd give it a try," said Linda Carr, who will return to coaching seventh-graders at Troy's Larson Middle School. "Because they are seventh-graders, I'm looking to get basic skills and the basic man-to-man defense they play in Troy. But anything would help."

Five coaches spoke this year, each addressing his or her specialty. Clarkston High boys coach Dan Fife spoke about motion offense and set plays; U-D Jesuit CYO eighth-grade coach R.J. Lomas talked about man-to-man defense; Farmington boys coach Steve Norgrove discussed individual player workouts; Rochester College coach Garth Pleasant addressed full-court press defense; and Madonna University's Marylou Jansen spoke on full-court press offense.

Fife was a unique speaker because he offered so many perspectives to the participants. He was a college player (at Michigan in 1969-71), a college assistant coach (at Michigan in 1975-78), an elite high school coach (16 district titles in 20 years at Clarkston) and a parent of three college basketball players -- Dugan at Michigan, Dane at Indiana and Jeremy at Grand Valley State.

Fife rarely attends clinics. He instead visits college practices and reads articles about new coaching philosophies. Fife suggested that game strategy was almost secondary to this group.

"We need different ways to tell kids what we want to get across," Fife said. "I keep updated as far as the X's and O's go, but it's the other things that you have a hard time keeping up on. It's figuring out the parents. That's a significant change and everybody's going to go through it, I don't care who you are."

Along with listening to speakers during the four-hour academy, coaches also see plays in action as Kimball players demonstrate drills.

Coaches who attend the academy receive T-shirts and handouts, but Galbenski also includes a notebook with empty basketball diagrams, so coaches can draw plays they learn.

"It hasn't lost its focus to help the beginning coaches, but we've added features at each level," Galbenski said.

PLANNING DEPARTMENT: Rochester athletic director Mike Watson has countless responsibilities, but he probably never figured construction was one of them. Rochester High School, at the corner of Livernois and Walton, has limited space for games and practices and Watson hoped to do something about it. Instead, he is faced with more of the same problems.

This summer, the school moved its baseball diamond to the opposite corner of the athletic field complex behind the school to maximize space, hoping to squeeze in another diamond. But given new foul territory demands, there was not enough space. So Rochester has what it had before, a baseball field, a softball field and an area for soccer practice with just a slight shift in available space.

In the fall, that means most of the area remains untouched. Only the softball and baseball outfields can be used. Add that to the beautiful football field that can only be used for competition -- the freshman soccer team has to play games at a local middle school -- and the reconfiguration only made minor improvements.

"It serves our purposes," said Watson, who had to stagger football and soccer practices because of the tight space. "But we wear it out."

FUND-RAISER: Troy Athens High softball and baseball fans are invited to support the teams at a preseason fund-raiser 4-9 p.m. Oct. 6 at Mr. B's in Troy. Mr. B's will donate a portion of all receipts to the programs. Diners who identify themselves as Red Hawks fans when paying their checks will qualify. No discount coupons will be accepted for the fund-raiser.

CHIPP-ING AWAY: Central Michigan junior strong safety James King, an Oak Park native, leads the Mid-American Conference with 13.5 tackles per game. He made 21 at Michigan, 10 against New Hampshire and 13 vs. Eastern Kentucky. Included in his 13 tackles against Eastern Kentucky were 11 solos and four tackles for losses of 23 yards. The 6-foot-1, 215-pounder also had a quarterback sack for minus-19 yards.

NOT UPSETTING: The Oakland men's soccer team scored one of its biggest wins in recent memory with a 2-1 upset of No. 10 Akron on Sunday. Philip Braathen scored the game-winning goal in the 77th minute when he connected on his fourth of the season off of a direct free kick. The Golden Grizzlies improved to 4-0-2 and are off to their best start since 1994, when the team started 6-0.

Contact MARK SNYDER at 248-586-2612 or

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