In basketball, much attention is paid to the players, and rightfully so. But watching a good coaching duel develop can be like watching a work of art being created in front of you.
TheDribbleDrop has always appreciated all facets of the game and will be linking with a distinguished high school basketball coaches every week to discuss the ins and outs of the game and what happens in-between the lines.
This week, St. Peter's Prep head coach Alex Mirabel discusses the blueprint to a successful offense, getting players to buy in on defense, managing relationships with players and parents and more.
By Christian Mordi / @thedribbledrop on IG and Twitter
TheDribbleDrop: Coach for those who don’t know, tell us a little bit about your coaching background.
Coach Alex Mirabel: I started coaching when I was 23. I played at New Jersey City University under Hall of Fame coach Charlie Brown. After that, I went to went to coach at Dickinson High for two years. Following my time there I came over to St. Peter’s Prep.
TheDribbleDrop: If you were use one word to describe your coaching style, what would it be and why?
Coach Mirabel: Intense. I’m more intense on the court then off it. I just want the guys to win so bad. I try to get the best out of them everyday. I work hard everyday to instill a hard work ethic and passion for the game in the players.
TheDribbleDrop: Offensively, what is your ideal style of play? Do you prefer a free flowing, fast paced transition game, or a more detailed and structured offensive approach.
Coach Mirabel: For me it’s not really a concrete answer, it’s really whatever the defense gives you. If we can get out in transition and get an easy lay up or a wide open shot, I’ll take it. If not, I want to pull the ball out and run some stuff. I know we can pick a team apart over time.
TheDribbleDrop: In the half court, do you prefer a "less structure is more" approach, or do you prefer a more layered offensive approach?
Coach Mirabel: In the half court I push the guys to be patient and run our stuff. It’s not going to all happen right every play. I try to get them to stop always looking for the big play, regardless or how it looks it’s only worth two points or three when it goes through the rim.
Proper screening is very important to me. In the half court I like mixing in a little pick and pop. I also like flex. I try to keep the defense off balance as much as possible by mixing in different things.
TheDribbleDrop: Tell us a bit about the environment in practice and some things you highlight every day.
Coach Mirabel: Defense. Good defense travels well. Last game we played Newark East Side and held them to 43 points. That was one of the best teams in the state. If you came to a practice you would see how hard we stress defense everyday. We try to cut away the opponents’ best offensive player.
TheDribbleDrop: This year you got two standouts from St. Anthony’s in Mark Walker and Demetrius Plexidas. How has the transition been for those two guys in regards to a new team and new role?
Coach Mirabel: Well they played under the Bob Hurley system, which is similar to what we are trying to do here. With Demetrius and Mark Walker, we also try to free them up a bit more as they have a bigger role offensively in our program than they did before.
TheDribbleDrop: You have standout guard Brendan Thiele. Tell us a bit about his game. What are some things you do to free him up?
Coach Mirabel: In regards to Thiele, he’s coming along very well. He started varsity as freshmen. Now you can see the moments aren’t too big for him. He’s a very tough kid. I’ve enjoyed having him for the past four years.
TheDribbleDrop: What piece of advice would you give a new coach?
Coach Mirabel: You have to have someone smarter than you on the bench. It’s important to have someone on the bench who has been there and be able to bounce ideas off them.
You also have to create great relationships with the parents. Parents want to be involved. They want to see their kids doing certain things and being taught things on and off the floor. In season and out of season they want to see a coach working. Getting them in on the right AAU program for example. You have to be able to care for the kids and work with the parents.
TheDribbleDrop: How do you gauge success at St. Peter’s Prep?
Coach Mirabel: Success is daily for me. It’s a daily grind. You have wake up every day looking to build on the success from yesterday while fixing the mistakes from the previous day as well. You have to think long term while valuing everyday. In order to have a successful program you have to work on things properly every single day.
I feel like St. Peter’s Prep is knocking on the door. Eventually it’s going to open up.