Despite a challenging season void of Superhoops and Yukon Championships, the Vanier Crusaders basketball team continues to practice and scrimmage weekly.
The last time the Star checked in with the Crusaders, they were two weeks into the program which started in January.
At the time, coach Sean McCarron said he wanted to give the players a competitive atmosphere.
“They aren’t doing their regular trips with school or club ball and there is no season,” McCarron said earlier in the year.
“They have been missing the ability to compete.”
Now three months into training, McCarron said he is using the practices and games as an extended tryout for next season – should things return to some semblance of normal.
“The pickup allows them to experiment and show potential,” said McCarron. “It is good for everyone. I am seeing guys shine on both offence and defence.
“On defence, they are showing commitment to shutting a guy down for half an hour. This gives me a chance to see them play in an extended way.”
When the scrimmages started, McCarron had the senior players in leadership roles. However, as the season has progressed, he has given that charge to the younger hoopers.
“I put Grade 10 captains in charge,” said McCarron. “I’ve seen them take a leadership role and asked them to step it up a bit. It’s been fun and they’ve been enjoying it.”
In a non-COVID year, McCarron said the team wouldn’t get the training time being afforded now.
“In a usual season we’d work on strategy to play the other schools,” said McCarron. “The big jumps are made in the offseason. Now, it is a time to build habits and get reps in.
McCarron has tinkered with the training to maximize the time spent in the gym. A switch he made was creating more teams.
“We went from four to six teams and now the experience isn’t as concentrated,” said McCarron. “The teams are strong and it is up to them to build chemistry.”
McCarron said there are still areas the group needs to improve upon, however, the growth he has seen has been excellent.
“Our finishing around the rim is still not great, we will work on that,” said McCarron. “The skill is coming along slowly but the confidence has come along quickly.
“They need to prove it to themselves, their teammates, and the coach. This has been great for all of us.”