Athletes look to bring success from the field to the court [UPDATED]Published 9:35am Tuesday, January 21, 2014 Updated 11:38am Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Underwood boys basketball head coach Jesse Arbuckle knew he had a challenge ahead of him.
Arbuckle, in his first season as the head man at Underwood, only had two days to practice with his entire team before they played their first game Dec. 6.
Such a quick turnaround would be hard enough for an experienced coach, but trying to teach a new system and adapt to new players presented a unique test for Arbuckle and his staff.
The reason for the short preseason: most members of the basketball team were busy making a run for the state championship with the football team.
“They always have confidence in football,” Arbuckle said of his players. “It’s been all about trying to build that confidence in basketball, because it’s just not the same.”
The lack of downtime between the football and basketball seasons contributed to the team’s slow start on the court, according to seniors Aaron Thompson and Adam Creek.
But as the season progresses, Creek said he and his teammates feel more comfortable.
“As each day goes by and with each practice, we’re starting to gel more,” he said.
Arbuckle could see right away the athletic ability and confidence in many of his players. But creating fundamentally sound basketball players takes much more than just athleticism and confidence.
The team has been focused on defensive fundamentals and taking care of the basketball, according to Arbuckle.
Early in the season, Arbuckle saw too many careless turnovers.
“We’re just trying to instill the basics right now in order to be a quality team,” Arbuckle said.
The Rockets sit at 3-7 on the year, a far cry from the success many players experienced during the football season.
While they continue to work hard, it has been frustrating to not see the results on the court that have come on the gridiron, according to Thompson.
“We come from a winning culture in football,” he said. “I don’t think any of us are happy with the outcome.”
The team is in the middle of a crucial stretch of games that includes four of five at home.
The Rockets are 1-1 in this stretch so far, with two of their next three games at home before starting a four-game road swing.
Most, if not all, of the fatigue from the short turnaround between seasons has worn off, according to Creek.
Now it’s all about making enough plays to win a few games and get some momentum.
Arbuckle is a firm believer in a carryover effect in high school sports.
Athletes that have success in one sport will be more confident playing another sport.
“You have success from season to season and year to year, you’re going to feel that success and believe in that success.”
Underwood’s incredible football season had the players riding a wave of energy into basketball season. Arbuckle hopes they can use that energy to create a basketball program that will rise to the heights of the football team.