|ed note: LLhoops.com gets a feature interview with Coach Seth Sigman, Cocalico. Coach Sigman enters his 2nd season as the head coach for the Eagles. He is an example of a person who has paid his dues and very loyal to the program, and a school that rewards hard work.. He shared with us a different prospective as entering his second season as opposed to the first year on the job. Great info. Enjoy!
1) Can you give out llhoops.com followers a brief resume of your playing/coaching?..and your coaching staff for the 2017-18 year.
I played for coach Ryan Axe at Cocalico from 1999-2002. I have coached in some capacity ever since then. After graduating, I got involved with Cocalico’s 6th grade travel team for one season. I was a volunteer coach for jv/varsity for two seasons, then did one year as the 7th grade coach. When Travis Wealand took over in 2006, he gave me the opportunity to be the 9th grade coach at Cocalico. I did that for 10 seasons before I was fortunate enough to get the varsity job in March of 2016.
My coaching staff is made up of a lot of veterans that stuck around when Travis left after the 2015/2016 season. Brent Wilson is a varsity assistant. He played for Coach Axe with me in high school and also played in college at Penn State Berks. Our other varsity assistant is John Rios. He is from Philadelphia and was a walk on at Temple. While he was at Temple he played for legendary coach John Cheney. Our jv coach/varsity assistant is Matt Forney. He has been coaching basketball at Cocalico for 16 years, including while i was playing there.
2) As you enter the second year of being the head coach of the Eagles, what changes have you implemented to the program?
The biggest change we’ve made so far is revamping our offense. We’re trying to do some things that put our players in a better position to use their different skill sets more effectively. The goal is to play more freely without as many ‘rules’ that can stagnate things. We just implemented it this spring, but we’re happy with the progression so far.
3) Can you describe the differences of being an assistant to being the head coach?
As the head coach, everything falls back on you. Even when we make a decision as a staff, ultimately, the head coach is held accountable. When you’re an assistant, nobody’s parents are mad at you about playing time-that is obviously not the case as a head coach. Having to make the decision about who gets playing time is a big change going from an assistant to head coach. The biggest difference to me though, as head coach, is that you are the one that has to find something meaningful to say that will have the desired impact for pregame, halftime, timeouts, during practice..etc.
4) What are your thoughts about the current LL set-up (3 sections, playing spot, re-alignment etc) ?
I really like the 3 sections setup. I like having bigger sections and playing all of those teams twice. Having said that, i do think the new 5 section setup will be fun too. Crossover games with other sections are always fun and can lead to some great rivalries. We have had some great games over the years with teams like LS and Central, so continuing to be in the same section after re-alignment will be fun and competitive.
5) What activities do you do with your team in the summer and the fall?
Over the summer, we do shooting and lifting workouts Mondays through Thursdays, we play in the West Reading outdoor summer league and we go to team camp at Alvernia. When school resumes, we will have open gyms and shooting workouts until the season starts in November.
Bonus: is there any changes you would like to see in HS hoops?
I would love to see the shot clock become mandatory by the PIAA. I think it would lead to better basketball with better flow and showcase each team’s talent a little bit more. Even though it will never happen,I would also like to go to 10 minute quarters, because who doesn’t want more basketball?
PS: Coach Sigman shared with us the new alignment starting in 2 seasons in reference to his 5 section comment earlier. More on that later in llhoops.com
1: Cedar Crest, Hempfield, McCaskey, Manheim Township, Penn Manor
ed note: LLhoops.com gets a feature interview with Coach Rick Perez of Reading HS. Andy Herr connected with Coach Perez during the season via twitter. We interviewed him after the Harrisburg game (6A semis for District 3) in Hershey – Coach Perez talked about the future and that the Knights still had some goals to accomplish. All true as the Reading Knights won the 6A PIAA championship on the same floor a few weeks later. Andy grabbed an interview after that game as well. Great insights to a traditional power in HS hoops. BTW- check out the “R”. Enjoy!
1: Has it hit you yet, or can you even fathom the honor of being named the 6A Coach of the Year in a basketball-rich state like Pennsylvania?
- It has not hit me. I think over time it will begin to take effect, but I strongly believe that this is just a step in whatever process myself, our coaches, players, families and the city of Reading R heading in. As soon as the buzzer sounded at Hershey, my first thought was….we have lots of work to do going into next season. As I walked thru the line shaking hands I was already working out our rotation. I often joke with friends and family that when I turn 70 I will be sure to begin bragging about it then…I’ll be that old guy telling the same war stories over and over again.
2: The ceremonies and appearances that have been set up for you guys by the community since the state title have been nothing short of awesome. Obviously you want to savor the moment and appreciate just how special that accomplishment is. As a competitor however, is there ever a point where you have to say, yes that was an incredible ride, but now it’s time to put that in the rear view mirror and go full focus onto 2017-18?
- The City of Reading has been awesome. The support has been unreal. We completely understand that the ceremonies and celebrations R necessary, they R a time for us to all get together and celebrate…which is important in our community. I look at these celebrations as not only to celebrate our success, but our presence at these events is our way to say thank you. That is why we R not shy when it comes to giving hugs, sharing smiles, and genuinely enjoying people for all the love they have shown. But you R correct, as a competitor, we R ready to focus on 2017-2018. Our staff and players have done a good job putting it all into perspective, so we R locked and loaded on the next season.
3: Speaking of 2017-18, how has the offseason been for the defending state champs?
- We’ve had a successful offseason. You can clearly notice the culture of our program elevating. Guys know what it takes to win. Everyone involved with the program understands the sacrifice. I believe the peak of our summer has been reaching the Hoop Group Team Camp Final after beating, IMG Academy, CBA out of Jersey and Gil St. Bernard. We ended up losing to Hempfield in the final, which was bittersweet. The fact that 2 public teams from District 3 were able to make the final says something about PA public school bball and District 3. Hempfield will be good this year and you can clearly see the impact to them reaching the District Final last year.
4: Everyone knows that Reading always gets everyone’s best shot in Berks, but probably even more so last year coming off a state semifinal appearance the year before. Could you just expand on how the Berks league, and even District 3 at large, prepped you for the run thru states last year considering you were the most popular team on the block?
- Getting everyone’s best shot keeps you on point. It’s an awesome position to be in because you know you must be prepared and willing to fight at all times. In District 3, the competition level is so high and the pedigree of the majority of the programs will always guarantee you a competitive team. When you look around District 3, we have so many coaches that I look up to. They have done great jobs with their programs and have been the faces of their programs for years. So as a coaching staff, we take great pride in being prepared and ready for their challenges. They have shown us a lot thru conversations, scouting and situations they have put us in while playing.
5: In last year’s District tournament Reading fell to Harrisburg in the semis after just 2 losses to that point, the last of which came two months prior. Looking back, do you think that game was a blessing in disguise in the sense that maybe it got the team to come to the realization that there was still a lot of work left to be done if they wanted to make it back to Giant Center for the state final?
- Coach Smallwood is a legendary coach and he has been in that situation many of times in his career. Therefore we know he will always have his team ready. Harrisburg came out more physical, hungry and prepared. It was a humbling experience at the perfect time. They deserved the win. But we took that loss and nurtured every lesson within it. We bounced back and practiced harder than ever, our practices looked as if it were the start of the season, guys started spending more time together to enhance relationships. We challenged ourselves in all ways. The Harrisburg loss was a blessing in disguise.
6: No team is able to have a great year like you guys did last year without the help of a great staff. We sometimes overlook them, so could you just touch on how instrumental each one of your assistant coaches are and what they are able to bring to the table?
- Our coaching staff deserves all the credit, they R amazing. Everyone brings something amazing to the table that has made me a better person and our kids better people. We R truly blessed. Coach Flowers is the gatekeeper to the program. He prepares all the kids at the JV level. I trust him with all my heart. He is my brother for over 20 years and has always had my back. He understands me thru and thru.
- Coach Randall is the coach that puts everything into perspective. Coach Randall is patient and always looking ahead. He has helped to calm me down and be more methodical in our thinking. He’s an amazing coach, with lots of experience. The success of our bigs in recent years can be attributed to his coaching as he gets the most out of them. Coach Jablonski has been loyal since day 1 and will go to the mountain and back for the program. He is our numbers and scouting guy. There is no better scouting report.
- Coach Sparrow….well…he is Coach Sparrow. Energetic, wise, and he knows his stuff. More importantly he is loyal and willing to fullfil any role he needs to. He has made us all better because he is the young guy on the staff and has endless energy. We could not be luckier to be involved with him and his skill development company, Point Blank Period (https://www.pointblankperiod.net/).
- We also have a sports pyschologist on staff, Dr. Rick Neff founder of Inner- Edge (http://www.inner-edge.com/). Dr. Neff has opened provided an awareness of the mind. He coaches and prepares us differently than we have ever experienced. We continue to learn the power of the mind. Lastly, Dr. James Goodhart, retired Superintendent is behind the scenes in the program, he and his wife Carol Anne R the founders of our Squires’ Club (https://m.facebook.com/RhsBasketballSquiresClub?id=304198489685650&refsrc=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2F&_rdr), which has provided our program the resources to continue to expand. But most importantly, they have been present as mentors, helping us to learn how to lead with love, which is the basis of our program.
7: One of the things that always sticks out to us is just how supportive the Reading school district is, not just to the basketball team, but to all its students and teachers accomplishing great things. We’re curious, what is it like to represent that ÒRÓ, given all the power behind it?
- I don’t know if you have ever gotten the opportunity to meet our Superintendent (Dr. Khalid N. Mumin), but, I suggest that anyone who is within his presence, and introduce themselvesto him. Upon shaking his hand you will understand his impact. We would run thru a wall for him. He has given a new sense of hope; he has changed the trajectory of our city; he is full of energy, hope and wisdom. It makes sense that our school district has so much excitement surrounding it. Our staff and kids feel it and we take great pride in representing our district, we R #RSDProud.
8: Along those same lines, one of the coolest parts of last season was when two Reading legends Donyell Marshall and Stu Jackson came back to Hershey for the state final. As someone who is the pilot of the program, what does it mean to have former players, especially those of NBA stature, be visible and show their support of the alma mater?
- Guys like Stu Jackson and Donyell represent so much from their accomplishments and contributions to the city, but more importantly they represent everyone in the city. Their families still live here. They still attend games and support us in so many ways. It’s an honor to be amongst them and their families because we understand how much they have done for our city and the people within it. The fact that they R still present in the city means a lot. Even coach Pete Carril continues to be active with the program. Once a year he has us at a Princeton game and will sit and talk to the kids….This year he told them to shoot more 3’s….They listened…It drove me crazy…LOL….But hey, if the legend said it, then it must be right….I think it worked.
9: Obviously last year’s team and was highly chronicled and rightly so. Even still, is there anything that you wish people knew more about last year’s team? Maybe something we don’t already know?
- I think our team was pretty well documented, but I think the presence of collaborative leadership was overlooked. No one person can do this alone. We all work together and sacrifice. This team was about as selfless as they come from players to coaches. We filled so many roles for each other and our ego was never in the way because our hearts would not allow it to be. We stand on the values of loyalty, family and commitment, and I believe the players and coaches live by that creed. This helped to build a true family bond that will last forever.
10: You have the floorÉ.What parting words would you like to leave for the readers of LLHoops?
- I genuinely thank you for this opportunity. We R huge fans of LLHoops and their contributions to the game and coverage of our student-athletes. I feel it is important for the Lancaster, Harrisburg, York and Allentown areas to continue working together. We represent a whole lot. We R not filled with private and charter schools, we R just a bunch of mostly public schools trying to compete and make dreams come true. I know that if we continue to work together we can achieve anything. Let’s keep pushing ourselves, challenging our limits and keeping our kids at home, our best is yet to come!
~ Andy Herr
ed note: LLhoops.com re-introduces Rocky Parise..Rocky is currently in his second year with Etown HS.. LLhoops thought it might be interesting to get some insights to how a coach deals with his/her summer program.
1) How do you plan out your summer hoops schedule?
Being at a school like E-Town, the first thing I do is contact the football coach to make sure our schedules don’t conflict too much. The second thing I do is to talk to our players’ AAU coaches to see if I can work around their schedules as well. This is the world we live in today, and, to be stubborn and not work around conflicts would hurt our team and our players.
After I figure out which days work best, I schedule our weight lifting, open gyms, workouts, summer league, and team camp. As a novice head coach, I have learned that the quicker I get things scheduled, the more likely we are to have good attendance.
This has all been trial and error for me as we never really had a set off-season workout regimen before. However, I’m starting to see what works and what doesn’t work, which just comes with experience.
2) Do your players play AAU?
I have been trying to get our players involved more and more with AAU. I want to make sure they are with the right program and a coach who will help them. We have had very positive results so far with Larry Locker playing for someone I respect a ton in Doug Kraft. I also placed a very talented incoming Freshman we have, Luke Pierson, with a close friend of mine and former Lower Dauphin Head Coach, Mark Hofsass. I have tried to get our younger players involved as well, but a lot of them have been reluctant due to playing a spring sport, which I completely understand.
I embrace the AAU movement and people need to understand that playing an extra season of basketball puts those guys so far ahead of the competition, that they are ready to play High School basketball at a much earlier age than in the past. The High School teams that have the most players, who play AAU, are usually the best, that’s just a reality.
3) What is the balance between workouts and playing games?
This is something I am very passionate about. In the past, we have had players who can’t make it to any open gyms, weightlifting or workouts, but their schedule is magically clear for summer league. It’s very frustrating. I would rather see a player, if he can only make 1 night per week, go to an open gym. The reason? In a game, he will spend 30 min driving to the game, 1 hour at the game and 30 min driving home. In that 2-hour time, he will have taken MAYBE 5 shots and played 20 minutes of basketball. Compare that to an open gym where they are getting at least 100 shots, working on skills and playing for a full 2 hours. It’s not complicated to figure out.
I do feel you need all 3 to become a better player and a better team: Weights/Open Gyms/Summer League. The players who also believe in that philosophy have improved immensely over the past 3 months and have overtaken the kids who rarely show up. It’s been a good life lesson for our players…the harder you work the better you are. Not very complicated.
4) What do you think is most important aspect of player development in the off-season?
There is no 1 important aspect. It’s the combination of the 3 I stated above: Weights/Open Gyms/Summer League. As a new Head Coach last year taking over a program that never had a weight lifting program, that was my main focus. I had to figure that all out and get that moving. So if you asked me last year, weight lifting was a main focus.
However, this year it’s just the buy in. We have had really good, talented players buy in to working hard and getting better for the sake of the team/program. There are some that are on the fence, and I feel that those guys need to decide if they are in or out, because we are moving along regardless.
After a tough year last year, for a group of guys to work hard for 2 to 3 months and see the results by having success in the Spooky Nook Summer League was really cool to see. Bigger programs and schools that are successful year in and year out don’t have to worry about wins in the off season…but we do. Going 7-1 in the Nook League was huge for our program and our kids and it meant a lot to us. Hopefully we can carry that confidence over into the season.
Bonus: How do you balance hoops, work and family during the summer? 🙂
It’s really difficult. I’m not going to lie. You can email Ang(my wife) and that could be an entirely separate interview! However it is a little easier as a Head Coach, because I coordinate with her first before I even call the football or AAU coaches! As an assistant, you are kind of at the mercy of the schedule. I have had to leave family vacation 3 days early 2 years in a row now for team camp. That’s difficult but everyone is very supportive. I know it’s a good example of work ethic for my sons Ryan and Dylan, who are involved in all aspects of that, but hopefully it’s a good example to our players that you have to sacrifice fun sometimes to achieve your goals.
Work is business as usual during the summer. All of our workouts are either at night or early in the morning, so it never overlaps with my job. I’m blessed to work for such a great. local, community oriented company in Donegal Insurance, that encourages me and empowers me to be a leader in our community and make a difference in our student athletes.
~ Dell Jackson
ed note: LLhoops.com re-introduces Geoff Groff. Coach Groff. Coach Groff is currently in his second stint with LMHS. The Blazers have been a force in the LL, District 3 and the PIAA. Enjoy.
1) Can you do a quick re-cap of the 2016-17 season at LMHS? Some of your thoughts during the season?
Came into the season with high expectations and they did not disappoint! We worked hard, and competed in practice and improved throughout the season. We won our section, came within a possession of winning districts, and gave Nuemann-Goretti their most challenging game on their way to winning the State Championship. The Blazers covered for each other when they were injured, stayed academically eligible, and shared the basketball. They were chosen by the Lanc. Leb. League officials as the team with the best sportsmanship! This team had a high energy level that also helped to energise the coaches and the season never got long. It is rewarding as a coach when your team exceeds expectations, and even moreso, when those expectations are already high.
2) It seem that the Blazers improve as the season progresses and makes a run at the LLsection tilte(and wins it a LOT), districts, and more recently state runs. How do you approach the season? Do you do anything differently as the season progresses?
One of my favorite quotes: Success is a journey, not a destination! We strive to have practices that are organized, fast paced, and competitive. We use a variety of activities to keep the points of emphasis fresh and we shorten practices as we head into January. We don’t practice on Saturday, unless there is a Monday game. We have been fortunate to have solid senior leadership who help keep their teammates focused and motivated. To follow up the quote, we try to keep our goals process oriented and measurable.
3) This is your second stint as head coach at LMHS. Do you see any changes in the game from your first run to the second?
The game is more physical as the players are stronger. The officials are more accessible with the 3-man crew and coaches being allowed to get off the bench. Harder to find players who want to play with their backs to the basket and easier to find payers who will shoot the 3!
4) Has your coaching approach changed over the years?
I would like to think I have improved as a coach, but I also recognize I still have room to grow. I see my role as a coach in a bigger way than just coaching basketball. I am a better communicator, especially on the listening end. More time and energy is invested in leadership development. And although we continue to strive to be the team with the most points on the scoreboard, we are recognizing that winning is much more than the most points! This gets back to the process I mentioned earlier.
5.What are your thoughts on the PIAA’s 6 classes?
More teams get a chance to win a title and experience District and State play.
Bonus: if there was anything you could change- league, districts, states, rules…what would it be?
Would like to see some more variety in how teams are paired in the State tournament. Teams who finish lower in Districts should not get easier games in the first round of the Sate Tournament. I would like to see the shot clock come to the High School game.
~ Dell Jackson