published Thursday, December 24th, 2009

Hargis: Coaches see game as players

Every turnover or missed assist opportunity by a Cleveland Lady Raiders point guard left coach Rachel Moore clinching her teeth or stomping her foot in disgust.

Similarly, Howard boys' coach Walter McGary shoved his hands deeper into his pockets or grimaced with every rebound that wasn't secured or missed layup by his post players.

Most area prep coaches are former players who live every game through the eyes of the kids playing their old position. Moore was a solid point guard at the University of Georgia and Walter McGary lived up to his nickname "Moose" as an inside presence at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

"Absolutely I play the game through our point guard," Moore admitted. "For the last 12 years I've told the girls who play point guard for us that I see everything through their eyes.

"If I put more pressure on any position, it's our point guard. I don't know if that's good or bad but it's what comes natural."

During the first half of Wednesday night's championship game of the Best of Preps tournament, current Cleveland point guard Jessica King injured her right ankle. After a few minutes of glancing toward the end of the bench and seeing her floor leader still getting her ankle wrapped, Moore stepped closer and asked impatiently, "Are you ready yet?"

After watching GPS overcome a 10-point halftime deficit to claw its way back into the game by the end of the third quarter, Moore spent much of the timeout before the beginning of the final period holding King's arm and explaining how important it was for her to take control.

"If any two people within our team need to be on the same page, it's me and Jessica," Moore said. "She does a great job of understanding what I'm asking. I just told her that at that moment we really needed stability.

"You can't always control whether your shot falls but you can control how you handle things. I wanted her to be that positive leader we needed."

King did help settle things down for Cleveland, sparking an 11-1 run late for a seven-point win and the Lady Raiders' second Best of Preps title in the last three years.

McGary's emphasis on post play paid dividends as well. Although Tyner boasts arguably the city's most talented group of big men, the Hustlin' Tigers were able to hold on for their fourth consecutive tournament title.

"I know my big kids would tell you I'm extra tough on them," McGary said. "I try to show them moves that they don't have to help their skill set. I play the game through the post players, I'm always watching to see what they're doing and how effective they are in there.

"It's the only way I know how to watch or coach the game."

about Stephen Hargis...

Stephen has covered local sports in the tri-state area for more than 23 years, having been with the Times Free Press since its inception, and has been an assistant sports editor since 2005. Stephen is among the most decorated writers in the TFP’s newsroom, winning numerous state, regional and national writing awards, including nine in the last two years. He was named one of the top 10 sports writers in the nation at the Associated ...

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