Freddy Ramos- JP McCaskey interview

LLhoops touched base with Coach Ramos earlier this summer. He shares some of his thoughts as he enters the first year at McCaskey (the third head coach since the LL started in 1973). Enjoy!

1) Can you give LLhoops.com followers your hoops background?
I’ve been a basketball coach and administrator for 22 years.  During that time, I have coached at every level from Middle School through High School.  I was an Athletic Director for several years with 10 teams at the school.  I also spent 4 years as a League Commissioner/President with 7 member schools (each with multiple teams).  I have worked for a recruiting service where I coached athletes during evaluation events and connected players with college coaches.  Most recently, I was a high school Varsity assistant coach and JV head coach.  I spent quite a bit of time on skill development, scouting and communicating with my players. I find it important to connect with student-athletes year round and to make sure that the connection is life-based, not sports-based.

2) What are the biggest challenges facing you/Mccaskey at this point in time?
Every coach has a unique approach to different situations around the sport.  As you experience a change in leadership, this becomes more visible.  Change is any situation can be challenging, but especially with high school student-athletes.  There are philosophies and expectations that I will place upon the program which build upon our rich tradition.  My challenge is to implement change where necessary and adapt to status quo where appropriate.  This is not new to me; not only do I embrace change, but I am well versed at implementing change.  My focus at the moment is to build sound relationships with our players, our alumni and our community.  The good thing is that I have already begun this process and am having positive experiences through these connections.  I am excited to continue to grow and build on these relationships.  It is truly humbling to be part of such a great community in the district that I live in.

3) What style can we expect from the tornado this next season?
We will focus on a “defense first” mindset.  We will be rewarded with great opportunities by committing to playing aggressive defense at all times. You can expect to see a team that plays fast and aggressively while supporting one another through every moment. 

4) Is your staff set? If so can you give us who is coaching with you?
I am currently completing evaluation of my potential staff.  This was not be a quick process for me.  I will surround myself with a staff that can relate to our student-athletes.  I will also ensure that the staff is experienced.  As far as timing, I am focused on fit, rather than timing.  As I find the right fit, the time is right.

5) Your short term and long term goals for the Year?
My short-term goal is to develop a strong mind-set amongst our student-athletes of consistency in our approach towards everything that we do (school, home, relationships, athletics, etc.).  We strive for good citizenship and values.  On the court, we want to be cohesive in all that we do.  We want to be positive leaders while holding ourselves accountable for our efforts/actions.  Lastly, we are going to love to play defense.

Bonus: How much Red and Black for you have in your wardrobe? 🙂
I’ve always kept Red and Black in my rotation.  What’s amazing is how much more I have now.  Father’s Day was different for me this year.  I didn’t receive any tools or gift cards; everything that I received from my family was red, black or both.  I’m outfitted in Red Tornado gear for several weeks before laundry needs done……McCaskey Proud!

 

 

~Dell Jackson

Doug Kraft- 17under Cats

This is after both our teams advanced through to the championship game of the Charm City Classic at Millersville University in April. We didn’t play the final and shared the title.- D Kraft

LLhoops caught up with Doug Kraft in August 2018. Coach Kraft mans to under 17 crew for the Cats- basically a team made up of LL players. The program has grown and been very competitive. You can find Doug at MANY LL games throughout the season. Some interesting info. This is the secomnd time he has joined the LLhoops interview- sure it won’t be the last 🙂  Enjoy!

 

1) Llhoops has been following the Cats via your twitter account. Can you take us thru your season?

This year our 17U season ran from mid-March through July. We really broke it down into 3 segments.

The NCAA Division 1 live periods are in April and July, so we play in NCAA certified events during those weekends and we’ll look for cost-effective, quality competition as best we can outside of those weekends.

This year we kept 20 guys which allowed for competitive practices and the ability to field two teams for most tournaments.

 Segment 1 (March to mid Ma y) Highlights – 

*We advanced to the finals of the Platinum (B) Bracket of the highly competitive Hoop Group Pitt Jamfest at the Pittsburgh Convention Center. We went 5-1, losing to Team M.O.A.M out of Florida, 64-58, in the title game.

*Our 4th annual College Coaches Night was another success. The Thursday night before Mother’s Day we close our first segment with this event. We invite the coaching staffs of most every Division 2 and Division 3 school in the Middle Atlantic into our practice to observe/evaluate our guys. We had 39 coaches from 25 different colleges attend. We invite our guys’ high school coaches to attend as well and then host a social afterwards giving time for all to spend time together. Without a doubt it’s the best thing we do.

Segment 2 (mid May to mid June) Highlights –

*Practice moves to once a week. We take 4 weekends off so guys can focus high school team obligations.

*We played in tournaments at Millersville and Mount St. Mary’s in front of those coaching staffs.

Segment 3 (mid June thru July) Highlights –

*We cut down to one team to prepare for the 3 Division 1 live recruiting weekends. We played at the Basketball Summer Championships in Springfield, MA; The Hoop Group Summer Jamfest at Spooky Nook; and Elevate Hoops Summer Final at King of Prussia. We played in the Elite (A) Bracket in every tournament. We went an combined 7-4 in those high-level events, which was our best-ever showing at that level.

2) Can you share your roster and what schools the players attend?
This year our roster included:

Eli Washington Hempfield High School
David Kamwanga Lancaster Catholic High school
Tyler Crespo Manheim Township High School
Colby Martin Warwick High School
Ronnie Swantner Hempfield High School
Zack Kingsley Lampeter-Strasburg High School
Amos Kollie Elizabethtown Area High School
Brendan Mellott Manheim Township
Dwayne Caine Jr Lancaster Catholic High school
Seth Beers Lampeter-Strasburg High School
Patrick Holmes Lampeter-Strasburg High School
Adam Wernoch Hempfield High School
Chase Broderick Lampeter-Strasburg High School
Ryan Shirk Warwick High School
Larry Locker Elizabethtown Area High School
Justin Baker Lancaster Catholic High School
Adam Stoltzfus Lampeter-Strasburg High School
Xavian Rodriguez Ephrata Senior High School
Andrew Zentner Garden Spot High School
Tyler Vicidomini Manheim Township High School

3) What type of logistical issues do you face for practice, games and organizing players?
Really the hardest part is finding the time to do it all. We have a great partnership with Lancaster Bible College for a practice facility. AD Pete Beers and Sarah Wilcox do a lot for us and others to make LBC a home. Rich Hinnenkamp at Lancaster Catholic and Zac Kraft at Lancaster Country Day stepped up on the rare occasions when Bible wasn’t available. (It pays to know people).

I personally decide on which tournaments we play trying to balance competition and cost. I never play tournaments on Mother’s Day or Memorial Day because I don’t want our moms in the gym on their day (sorry Kathleen Holmes) and I don’t want to be in the gym on Memorial Day weekend. We get great cooperation from our guy’s high school coaches. We know when they have open gym, summer league and team camp and just roll with the punches.

We try to have clear communication with our players so there is very little unexpected conflict. We deal directly with the player. We make them take ownership of their schedule. At our age level, our guys are capable of handling things. Or at least they should be. The harder part is making sure mom and dad don’t try to do it for them.

4) How do you pick your team?
Our tryouts really run during the L-L League season. We watch the league. We stay in touch with the high school coaches to find out who may be looking for an AAU team. Word of mouth has spread the good vibes. Our former players are great in making sure I know of guys coming up. It’s all about relationships. And positive results and experiences. The Class of 2014 had 4 guys move onto college basketball, 2016 had 6, 2017 had 5 and 2018 has 7. That’s 21 guys off 4 teams. They can attest to their experience with Cats. We could have as many as 10 from this year’s group move on.

We are now in a spot where many guys pick us.

5) Do college coaches contact you about your players or players you have coached against?
In terms of our players, they contact me all the time. When we play in live events all levels of coaches see us play. There is constant follow up. I probably take a text, social media DM or call about recruiting every day from now through next May. Then we start up again.

 Once in awhile I will get asked about a kid on another team. I really don’t like sharing anything about a guy I don’t know as a person. I will talk about what level ability he has.

Bonus: Most HS coaches talk about building a program. You have new (mostly) players each year. What are your future goals for the Cats?
That is a killer good question. I evaluate this all the time. This costs me time and money, so I first have to make sure it is not detrimental to my family. My wife, Terry, has been ultra supportive. But we love beach weekends and they pretty much go bye-bye with AAU.

My original goal when I got involved with Cats was to help our team become competitive enough to keep the best local kids playing AAU on our local team. It has taken time but I feel we have done a good job with that. We used to have kids leave to play on Philly-based teams or teams like the Jersey Shore Warriors. This year was the first time we played the Warriors’ top team. They were a bit down this year but we were up double-digits in the 2nd half at the Summer Jamfest. Winner advances to the Sweet 16. I felt our team was better. We just didn’t make the plays we needed to and we ended up letting the game slip away. But I looked at my assistants, Dave Evans and Tom Wernoch, and said we’ve come along way.

In the end, however, our goal will always be to help guys get better and to help raise the bar for L-L Hoops.

This was just after we ended our season with a win in our last game at Elevate Hoops Summer Final at King of Prussia in July. We went 7-4 in Elite Bracket play during the NCAA Division 1 live recruiting period. This team was one of, if not the best, we’ve had.- D Kraft

~ Dell Jackson

 

Jerry Shenk- in memory

                     Jerry Shenk’s pict for his LLhoops.com media pass- 2017.

Jerry Shenk

I have been conflicted, saddened, and duty bound about writing in past tense about Jerry Shenk.

Jerry’s obitutary From LNP

I dubbed Jerry – “the Guru of PA HS boys basketball”.

Jerry created a newsletter and rankings – The Middle Atlantic Sporting News before anyone else was thinking about rankings. I wish I could tell you the exact dates, but I do not know. I do know he contacted me in the late 80’s when I was Penn Manor’s coach. Perhaps he was selling me a subscription (I did), but we always talked at least once a year on HS hoops. He would get newspapers from York, Reading, Harrisburg and Lancaster to keep up with his rankings and standings. He complied everything. I could ask him about a year and who won this and that, and he would check his binders on teams, years, districts, and states. Donyell Marshal, of Reading HS, helped with supporting the newsletter after he got to the NBA.

Jerry helped compile the District 3 and PIAA boys basketball records. LLhoops used to try to keep up with the history of the District using Jerry as a source, but the folks at the district level finally used his work to incorporate into their site/programs. Anywhere you see old records, think of Jerry as he probably had a huge part in the stats.

As things began to change for his newsletter – and folks starting to get involved in the internet- Jerry helped LLhoops.com with rankings. He would rank District 3 teams and for a few years did state rankings. His ranking system included all classes and public and private schools. The Pittsburgh Post picked up his state rankings for a few years.

Jerry also compiled Mid Penn records for the old Central Penn. He wrote a booklet and sold it (I have a copy somewhere- but could not find it L). If anyone has a copy and wants to sell it to LLhoops…J

On the old llhoops.com site, we had pre 1972 LL records (coaches, scoring etc). While I was an assistant at PM a few years back, we had a player (Marc Summy) put up 48 in a game. A few asked me about the 50 pt. games in the LL, and Jerry had the list for me!

We finally had Jerry post his on info. In the last 2 years on llhoops. In the past he would send me his updated lists very late on Sunday night- like 2 am Monday morning. I was glad he could post when he wanted as working at 7 am and making sure I had the postings up by that day made things a bit challenging. Jerry was also very active in hoops bulletin boards as a moderator and contributor.

The last time I visited Jerry was this past spring. He called me up to help him with his telephone. After a few calls to the phone company, we got things straightened out. I was more than happy to help Jerry.

He was a fixture at High School games for many years. Although sometimes the mainstream media had some issues with him at the games, he came to be a respected source of info as acceptance of online media took effect. He would cover districts games like no other. The last few years, Jerry did not get around as well, but would get to a few games: he would ask me to get him a table for games (PM always helped us with the tables). At LS he would get in the box using the elevator. The LLhoops.com staff shirts he wore made him happy for sure- his payment for all the years of service to our site:)

The last few years, Jerry has been hooked on checking out HS games online – streaming, replays, summations. Last year he told me he watched over 400 games on his bigger screen computer at his house…and wondered why our area did not do this? …again he was thinking ahead. With some new NCAA rules involving dead times, streaming of AAU tournament games will take front and center stage (if a coach can’t be there in person, he can tell recruit he was watching him on the net).

Jerry told me a story about Readings legendary Coach, Jim Gano. He told me what impressed Jerry is that Coach Gano would take notes on the Jv players (the opponents) while he was talking to Jerry before the games. Coach Gano said he was looking for tendencies (one wonders what Coach would do with tapes available today 🙂

Longtime hoops historian, City of Basketball Love, and organizer for PA ALL-State teams, Mike Bullock (@thebullp_n), stated this in a tweet earlier:
“RIP, Jerry. You’ve got the best seat in the house now.”

and…..

“While I didn’t know Jerry at all when I first started covering high school basketball, I soon learned of his vast reputation — and, of course, his rankings.

Once I started working on state-wide rankings for PennLive and then for City of Basketball Love, I’d always take a peek at Jerry’s listings just to see if I was in the ballpark with him. Especially since I know of several guys in the business who regularly made use of his stuff.

Eventually, once I introduced myself to Jerry at Giant Center, we used to spend all sorts of time talking about different teams and the difficulty both of us would encounter trying to find oft-elusive and unreported results. Sometimes we’d commiserate together, but other times we’d laugh because he was just as determined as I was to be spot-on with the records we used to supplement our rankings packages.

Bottom line is he and I, despite the generational difference, became kindred spirits.

Now that he has the best seat in the house to watch Pennsylvania hoops, I definitely will miss him because he was always so terrific to me and quick to share information that I might have been unable to locate. I won’t be the only one in this business who misses him, because there are plenty of others out there who valued his work along with his tireless dedication to his work. Thanks Jerry, for everything.”

Dave Burman (@BurmanDave)– Radio/TV sports broadcaster and sports historian.
“One of the greatest of all-time!! Had many, many, many long high school basketball chats over the last 4 decades!!!”

Tigh Savercool (@tsave31)– Head Coach at Cedar Cliff
“Jerry loved high school hoops. The definition of a junkie…in today’s day and age of games being streamed, he’d watch hundreds of games per month! A genuine good soul.”

Paul Blackburn (@P_Blackburn43)– Head Coach at Hershey HS
“RIP Jerry. Met him in the mid-80’s when he covered our Carlisle teams. Always kept in touch with him throughout my coaching career to talk hoops. Had a great passion for HS basketball and covered it thoroughly. He will be missed.”

“Jerry would see things with his own eyes, others took others words on teams. He saw for himself most of the time…I knew it was a special game when Jerry was in the gym”

Jerry’s rankings sometimes leaned towards Reading High and LS.:) Hard to argue with Reading ..and LS, well, the LS grad always had a soft spot for the Pioneers….

Ex-Pioneer boss, John Achille…“Jerry is a GREAT person.  When I got the head job at L-S many years ago, Jerry attended one of our games and came up and introduced himself to me (I did not know him at all), he remembered me from my playing days at Erie Cathedral Prep.  He recalled us winning the AAA State Championship in 1980 vs. Allentown Central Catholic.  He was just a SINCERE person.  He attended many L-S games during my tenure and I always looked forward to speaking with him.  He CARED about people.  He would always ask about how my family and how my boys were doing.  He will be missed!”

And this from Jerry’s last llhoops post 2018:

“Lampeter-Strasburg 50 Lancaster Catholic 40 – This one was special to me. Way back in the early 1950’s there was no Lampeter-Strasburg. There was a West Lampeter HS, a Strasburg HS, that burned down in 1942 and was never rebuilt. I lived in Strasburg Township and all we had were 10 one room school houses that only went to eighth grade if you wanted to go farther there were three high schools that bordered Strasburg, including West Lampeter. In 1953 the three-school district’s merged to become Lampeter-Strasburg. When I was in fifth grade at Walnut Run, I started to read the AP story every Monday in the paper that would give a rundown of the whole state and started to follow high school basketball throughout the state three years before I ever knew I would be going to Lampeter-Strasburg. In September of 1956 the doors of L-S were to open but it was not ready so they put us all in West Lampeter High until L-S was ready in October. The new high school was to be 7th to 12th grade but West Lampeter did not have enough room so for that month and a half, some of us went to school from 8 to noon and the other half went from noon to 4 pm. That was nice.”

Some pre – LL links from Jerry:
Pre LL 1000 point scorers
Top coaches- pre LL 1972
Top players – pre LL 1972

Bottom line: Jerry was a High School Hoops junkie. The time he dedicated to the sport was legendary. His knowledge of the history of the sport will be sorely missed. His help with LLhoops.com was key to helping us start and progress with the site, rankings, and acceptance as a legit source of information for the LL, District 3, and the PIAA.

~Dell Jackson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coach Jonathan Shultz- Lancaster Country: Interview

LLhoops caught up with the new head coach from Lancaster Country Da,y,  Jon Shutlz.
LCDay will enter the LL for its first season 2018-19 and play in the new section – 5. He shares some thoughts below.
Enjoy!
 
1) What were the keys to applying for the LCDay job?
When the position opened up, I knew that this would be a great opportunity.  I attended a non-public high school and teach (and coached) in a public school setting, so I was familiar with the pros and cons of each.  I believe that athletics is an extension of the classroom and that dovetails nicely with the high academic standards which Lancaster Country Day holds.  The inclusion of LCDS in the LL League gives Country Day a much stronger footprint in the local athletic community, and I am fortunate to be able to lead them in this endeavor.  
 
2) You got in late for summer work, butLLhoops.com knows you are working hard with your group. 
How are things going for the summer?
We’ve had a very solid turnout this summer for open gyms and summer league games.  We were fortunate to get a few games in the Spooky Nook League even though the season had already started.  I told the kids at the start that I do not care what the scores of these games are, but what is important is that we are improving and working on the things we need to do to be successful during the season.  We are also taking a group of kids to Alvernia for team camp.  I threw a lot of basketball at these kids just as their summers were getting started, so I appreciate that they have made accommodations to make it out to as many events as possible. 
 
3) What style can we expect from Lancaster Country Day this upcoming year?
There will be a good amount of experience returning to the LCDS team this year.  We have a nice mix of size, speed, and athleticism so we want to get the right lineups out on the floor to maximize our skill sets.  We definitely plan to be an aggressive and opportunistic defensive team and a smart, disciplined offensive team.  In my brief time at LCDS I’ve been impressed with the senior leadership as well as the dedication of some of the younger players to improve their game so that they can crack the lineup.  So while these kids are competing for minutes, they also pull for each other.  I’m expecting to see more of that during the season.    
 
 4) What are your thoughts on the LL’s 5 section format?
I think the 5-section format is a great idea because it allows the smaller schools to have competitive games throughout the entire season.  I truly believe that top to bottom, Section 5 is going to be ultra-competitive and has the opportunity to create some fun rivalries for the future.  You are going to see different styles of basketball as everyone competes to hang that first “Section 5 Champions” banner.  It will be a lot of fun.  
 
5) What are the current and long term goals for the team?
In the present, our goal is to compete every game and see where we stand when the dust settles.  We have a lot of guys returning from a team that went to the District 3 finals and won a state game, so understandably their expectations are high.  However, we are going to have to work hard to meet those expectations because Country Day is not going to sneak up on anybody this year.  Between last year’s success and being new to the LL League, we need to get our guys prepared to see the best of everybody we play.  In the long term, our goal is to build a program and a basketball culture that permeates LCDS.  We are a small school, but our building houses students K-12.  We have some youth clinics planned for this summer and we want to incorporate more ways to have our varsity players work with the young students at LCDS and create a feeling of family and have these lower school students look forward to the day when they can wear the Cougar uniform. 
 
6) Is your staff set? If so, who will be helping you this season?
We are not fully staffed yet, but I can proudly say that Bob Porter is going to be the lead varsity assistant.  He is a Country Day alumnus and has been a coach in the program for many years.  The kids love Coach Porter and he brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to our program.  I could not be happier to have him.
 
~Dell Jackson