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. John Vianney head coach Dawn Karpell discusses the importance of preparing your players for college , how to get the best out of your players on the floor, the AAU circuit 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 Karpell: I have been a head coach for 17 years. I did one year as a head coach Keansburg and 4 years and Holmdel. This is my 12th year at St. John Vianney.
TheDribbleDrop: If you were use one word to describe your coaching style, what would it be and why?
Coach Karpell: Teacher. I consider myself a teacher of the game. I love developing players. I love the challenge of grooming their game and helping them through the process of finding themselves on the court. My greatest success is when I get them ready for college and they are able to contribute at the next level.
TheDribbleDrop: How do you prepare the team for your style of play:
Coach Karpell: We do a lot of conditioning. This year we are transitioning to a more uptempo style of play. Last year we graduated Kimi Evans who is now playing for Seton Hall University. Our personnel has changed, so our style of play has changed.
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 Karpell: Personally I like to play uptempo, but I like to be educated in how we go about pushing the ball. This team is special as we have a lot of unique players that can create mismatches. If we don’t rush our decisions and take our time throughout the process, we will be able to execute.
TheDribbleDrop: In the half court, do you prefer a "less structure is more" approach, or do you prefer a more layered offensive approach?
Coach Karpell: I like a flex based offense, especially with my group this year. I like this mix of skill sets with this group of kids I have on my team currently. I think we can create shots off the bounce. We also use some motion based offensive plays.
A lot of kids like the four-out-one-in offense, but sometimes the decisions aren’t the best. I think it’s best to pull back a little bit and just build my practices up to help my players make good reads in dribble drive situations.
TheDribbleDrop: Defensively I noticed you use a detailed ball-line man to man defense. I know there are many variations of man to man defense. Is this style your bread and butter as a whole?
Coach Karpell: Well I think you should base your man defensive scheme based on your personnel. My T.O.C. team two years ago played more of a pack line defense. With this group I have now, I switched things up. We’re very athletic. If I can create a lot more pressure on the ball, get teams to take hard shots, play the passing lanes and create turnovers that’s cool with me.
TheDribbleDrop: Tell us a bit about the environment in practice and some things you highlight every day.
Coach Karpell: I’m a teacher. We do a lot of skill development. I think it’s a balance. You have to make time for plays and organization. I do think you can let your players play through things a little bit more as you build their skills and reads though. My job is to make sure my kids are ready to excel on the college level. So if I’m not pushing skill development hard in practice from freshman to senior year I’m doing them a disservice.
Sometimes pushing skill development so heavy in my practices may hurt me at times early in the win-loss department, but I think developing those skills are key to success to playing on the next level.
TheDribbleDrop: What are your thoughts of the current climate of the AAU circuit?
Coach Karpell: My daughter plays AAU. As a result I’ve been in the belly of the beast personally. I do my best to push the teaching part of it. I find it a bit bothersome seeing how many games they play as I would rather have more balance. I understand it’s a necessary evil but I would rather have 6 practices and one game a week than 6 games and one practice.
TheDribbleDrop: What piece of advice would you give a new coach?
Coach Karpell: I coach with a lot of energy, but I would say it’s important to know your players. You can’t coach every player like the last group you had before. You have to have patience. Often that’s a thing that comes with time and experience as a coach. You have to know when to press buttons and you have to know when to step back, let them breathe and coach them through the situation with ease.
Finding out what makes each kid tick is key to getting the best out of them. If you learn that out you will be able to handle each situation with the player.
TheDribbleDrop: How do you gauge success at St.John Vianney?
Coach Karpell: Not in wins and losses. Obviously we have a successful program and we win a lot. With that being said I’m focused on the next level. I want my players to have the skills to excel on the next level. I also want to make sure we get them to the right school on the next level. Getting them into a system that allow them to be successful. I want my players to come back happy and tell me that I prepared them for what’s being thrown at them in college.