By Terry Battenberg
Special to MaxPreps.com
"What was your best game ever?" This is a question I like to ask players at my basketball camps. In most cases the answer is something like this:
"There was this game one time, where I scored 22 points and it was so cool. I made a couple of threes, and I was hitting everything all night. It felt so good."
Now granted, scoring 22 points is probably something most of us would remember fondly if we ever accomplished such a feat. But I wonder, is that really what the definition of "your best game ever" should be? Is basketball supposed to be all about points? So much so that players believe "their best" can only be defined by scoring big numbers? As a long time basketball coach, my answer would be: "I surely hope not."
What about rebounds? Steals? Assists? And defense? Shouldn't these be part of a "best game"? Or maybe a mention of how many shots were missed while making those 22 points? Did your team win the game the night YOU had your best game ever? I would certainly hope so. But these are questions I generally have to ask kids before I get that kind of information about their "Best Game Ever."
It seems that as each year goes by basketball players become just a little bit more "self-centered." I don't blame this attitude on the kids as much as I do on parents -- especially Dads! Fathers must love to see their sons' and daughters' names in the newspaper as the leading scorer. "Junior" has to get his 20 a game or a major university won't come around with a scholarship in hand. Yes, that is what I hear out of parents' mouths more and more every season. It is almost as if they need to measure their own self-worth by whether their child can get a basketball scholarship. Since very, very few players are scholarship quality, a coach is often left to deal with a frustrated player and an equally frustrated parent.
Instead of worrying about Junior getting a "free ride" to good ol' "Northeast South Carolina Tech," parents should be more concerned about good grades, good citizenship, and a good effort. Rather than asking, "How many points did you score tonight?" maybe Dad could ask, "Did you win the game?" "Did you give your best effort?" "How many rebounds and assists did you get?" Hopefully, these questions would lead to some responses that would build on a healthy attitude towards what basketball is suppose to be -- a team game that should be fun to play.
So what is the Perfect Game as suggested by my title? Something like this is what I would like to hear from players:
"I can't really remember all the details, but I had about five assists, maybe three steals, and several rebounds. I know I made all my free throws and shot well from the floor, too. Plus, I just "dogged" their best player and really frustrated him. It was a game against one of our toughest rivals, and we beat them with a great effort by everyone. We were so excited that the whole team went out for pizza afterwards, and we didn't want the night to end. That was the best game ever!"
I'd like to think I will hear that from someone in my basketball camp or from one of my players again before I am done coaching.
About Coach Terry Battenberg
Born and raised in the basketball hotbed of Indiana, Terry Battenberg moved with his family to Sacramento, Calif., when he was 16. While attending Cal State University at Sacramento, he began his coaching career at Jesuit High School where he eventually became California's youngest head coach at the age of 22.
During his 30 year coaching career, Coach Battenberg has directed four different Sacramento area high schools to a league title (11 titles in all during 20 years as a high school coach). He has also been the head coach at Montana Tech College and American River College in Sacramento, as well as an assistant to Hall of Fame Coach Ralph Miller while at Oregon State University.
Coach Battenberg is the author of the original book on Post Play, called The Complete Book of Basketball Post Play, published in 1978. He continues to speak at clinics and conduct camps all over the Western United States while serving as the Head Basketball Coach at Union Mine High School.
For more, go to coachbattenberg.com