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, Ramapo High head coach Joe Sandberg discusses the his offensive philosophy, preaching toughness, his thoughts on the shot clock 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 Joe Sandberg: Well I played football and basketball at Bergen Catholic. I went on to play football at Univ. of Pennsylvania. I think came back to basketball. I was an assistant at Bergen Catholic for two years under coach Billy Armstrong. This is my 6th year at Ramapo at the head coach. Currently we hold a record of 105-41 during my tenure.
I learned a lot from Billy, he’s a knowledgeable guy. He runs a great program. I got a lot during my time there and have incorporated some of the stuff I learned there now at Ramapo.
TheDribbleDrop: If you were use one word to describe your coaching style, what would it be and why?
Coach Sandberg: Tough. I really preach toughness. We have found our niche and that it being tough. On defense and offense I preach mental toughness and discipline.
TheDribbleDrop: How do you get the guys comfortable with your style of play early in the season?
Coach Sandberg: Well we have a lot of two sport guys. In the preseason we spend a lot of time in the weight room and conditioning. When it’s time for the season to start, we focus on fine tuning things with skill development. We spend a lot of time early on shooting, dribbling and getting timing down offensively.
TheDribbleDrop: Tell us a bit about the environment in practice and some things you highlight every day.
Coach Sandberg: Honestly I don’t spend a lot of time on plays and I don’t spend a lot of time game planning. I think the important thing is to preach skill work. Passing, dribbling and defense. We then put in a couple plays to provide a bit of structure. Sometimes when you have two sport athletes you have a couple guys who don’t always have a lot of time to develop their skills. I’m focused on teaching kids to understand basketball and how to play, not really focused on memorizing my plays. I don’t want my players to become robots.
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 Sandberg: We want to rebound the ball and run. We want to play tough defensively in the half court. When we get the rebound we push the ball and look to create early.
TheDribbleDrop: Funny you mentioned the pace of games. If you had a choice between playing with a shot clock or playing without one like we currently do, which would you choose and why.
Coach Sandberg: I think a shot clock would be good for our game. In Bergen County we see coaches who are willing to run 2-3 minutes off a shot clock and try to keep games close. I think a shot clock forces teams to play. I think it’s very important to teach our kids to compete and play at a faster pace.
TheDribbleDrop: In the half court, do you prefer a "less structure is more" approach, or do you prefer a more layered offensive approach?
Coach Sandberg: I would say we do a little bit of both. We have some nice players down low and we like to get the ball to them. With that being said, when we go small we like to create mismatches and spread teams out. When we play that style we just like to keep it simple and let the kids play.
TheDribbleDrop: What piece of advice would you give a new coach?
Coach Sandberg: I would say you have to earn the respect of the players first. A lot of young coaches come in and try to be friends with their players. Once you earn their respect you can ease up a bit, but the respect has to come first. If you try to be their friends off the bat it can make you job very difficult.
TheDribbleDrop: How do you gauge success at Ramapo?
Coach Sandberg: If we are competitive, challenge ourselves and get work hard to get better everyday, I think it’s very hard to hang your head. Everyone wants to win a group or state title but the fact of the matter is that most teams don’t. If the players work hard and they learn something when the year is done, you had a successful year.