By Justin Sokeland
BEDFORD – Jeff Hein closed on his new house, making his move official, and opened his new era as the ninth basketball coach in Bedford North Lawrence history with his first official practice sessions. That’s a day, that’s a full day.
Wait, be not confused. Basketball is still a winter sport, with its usual November start window. But with new IHSAA rules allowing for supervised, organized June workouts, Hein hit the hardwood running with early-morning introductions to a brand new system with old-school principles.
He needs the head start. Hired in late April, Hein has a lot ground to cover as he starts the get-to-know process during a busy month of camps, games and evaluations.
The latter part is the most important. BNL will attend six camps/shootouts and play 32 varsity games during the next four weeks, and Hein needs to learn what he has, what he needs, and determine if he can mesh those together before the 2019-20 campaign begins.
The best way to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the talent in the program is under live fire, against an outside enemy, and Hein will have plenty of opportunities during the next 26 days to start sorting. So far, over 40 athletes have answered the initial summons.
“I feel like I’m in a recruiting mode right now, and I will be until November,” Hein said. “Any kid that wants to play – whether they played last year, or didn’t play at all – can come in and see what it’s all about, see if they like what we’re going to do with the program. I want to get my eyes on everyone that has an interest in playing basketball.”
Want to be a Star? The criteria is really simple. Hein reiterated his philosophy and guidelines, which have not and will not alter. Now is the time to impress.
“That’s what the summer period is about, all the way up to tryouts next year,” Hein said. “They’re trying to prove they can play at that level, and beat someone else out. I want solid players that will play defense, will play smart and play fundamentally.
“From what I’ve seen so far (7 meetings overall), I don’t see any high flyers that can do windmill dunks. So we will play below the rim and be able to beat teams that might be more athletic with our discipline and defense, with our fundamental play.”
BNL will start its whirlwind month with a trip to Western Kentucky (June 6-8), followed by one-day, multiple-game stops at Linton (June 17), Evansville Harrison (June 19) and Bloomington South (June 20). The Stars will participate in the Dan Sparks camp in Terre Haute on June 23-25, then cap the four-week minicamp with a trip to the Charlies Hughes tournament in Indianapolis on June 28-30.
In addition, Hein will also host the annual BNL youth camp for athletes in grades 3-8 on June 10-12. That’s a lot of dribbling.
“I’m just trying to get a feel for what kids look like in game situations, see what abilities they have and what their strengths are,” Hein said. “That’s exactly what it’s about. You can put them in those situations in the summer time.”
With only two returning starters from last season, the competition for spots everywhere on the roster, every level in the program, is already under way. The Stars have a lot to learn with a new system.
“It’s a lot of teaching,” Hein said. “I don’t want to throw everything at them right from the beginning. Having the luxury of the same assistant coaches from before, they can run certain things in practice and I will add my stuff slowly. Instead of wholesale changes and confusing the heck out of kids, I think you’re better off doing it that way. Eventually we’ll get to where I want to get.”
Before the calendar turns to July, a month for individual weight lifting and personal improvement, the Stars will be pushed.
“After two hours, they’re tired,” Hein said. “They’re constantly moving. I’m not a big believer in running a bunch of wind sprints at the end of practice to get conditioning. And the kids have seen that.”
He will take over a team that went 13-10 last season but lost six seniors. The Stars will return leading scorer Brayton Bailey and center Cale Bunch. Bailey, an Indiana Junior All-Star, paced the Stars in scoring (18.9), rebounds (6.7) and assists.