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, Rumson-Fair Haven head coach Dave Callahan. During our interview he discusses the three keys to being a sudcessful offensive player in his system, the similarities between Brendan Barry and Tori Hyduke, his thoughts on the shot clock 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 and how long u have been at.
Coach Dave Callahan: Well I have been coaching for around 30 years now. I started as a teenager when I volunteered to coach some local sports teams in my town. I went on to Villanova and served in the Navy. I coached some ship teams there as well. When I had kids I hopped in on the high school level. I started out on the boys side at Rumson-Fair Haven. I coached on that side for 10 years. We had great success. We won shore one year and produced a couple division one athletes. When the girls basketball job opened up a year ago I put my name in the hat for the job and here we are today.
TheDribbleDrop: One player that comes to mind that you coached on the boys side was Brendan Barry. He plays at Dartmouth correct? Tell me about that experience.
Coach Dave Callahan: Yeah he’s a sophomore there now. He’s the starting point guard this year. Brendan was a great kid. He’s eerily similar to Tori Hyduke. Both are great scorers who can shoot the lights out. They can also get to the rim with either hand and finish. Tori is more of a quiet by example leader and Brendan was the exact same way. Quite a bit of parallels between the two.
TheDribbleDrop: If you were use one word to describe your coaching style, what would it be and why?
Coach Dave Callahan: Aggressive. I want my kids to be aggressive with their mindset. I want my kids to not play with the fear of making a mistake. I give my kids a lot of room to make decisions out there. Last year it worked very well as I had a team of upperclassmen. This year it’s been a bit tougher as we play a lot of freshman and sophomores. You have to trust the process though.
TheDribbleDrop: How you prepare the team for the style of play in early season practices?
Coach Dave Callahan: We have a great off season program here. We have one of the finest high school weight rooms around. The days we are able to work with the kids, we have an open gym and things set up for them to grow. We also do a lot of strength and conditioning.
TheDribbleDrop: What about when the season starts?
When the season starts, I have a more old school approach to things. We do a lot of conditioning. This year was a bit different as my team isn’t as experienced. I spent a lot of time early teaching in the moment.
In regards to a practice breakdown, we like to break things up 50/50. We do a lot of skill development. We work on ball handling, finishing and box out drills. These are things that win us games. We also spend a nice bit of time on the plays and reads to make sure things are fluid.
TheDribbleDrop: Offensively, what is your ideal style of play?
Coach Dave Callahan: If we can push the ball out in transition and create in space, I’m cool with that. I really tailor the offense to the personnel that we have. I would like to put pressure on a defender to make a decision fast and we work our reads based on that. This year's team is a bit top heavy but we have seen growth as we have gone along.
When I run my summer camps and clinics I tell players that their are three things that we have to do: 1-shoot the ball from three. 2-Drive and finish right 3-Drive and finish left. If you can do that, defend and play with heart you will do fine at this level.
TheDribbleDrop: You mentioned the shot clock. New Jersey doesn’t have one. You have coached the boys and girls side at a high level. Ideally, what do you think is best for the players?
Coach Dave Callahan: I absolutely, positively, 150 percent believe we should have one. It makes for a better game. Last year we played a team from New York in Long Island Lutheran. It was a back and forth game, exciting and fun to watch. We played them in New Jersey though so it’s our rules. They got up four with four minutes left and they just held the ball. What had been an exciting and fun game to watch was turned into something else down the stretch. It was ruined.
We had a similar situation on the boys side. We lost a championship due to a team holding the ball the entire overtime. They held the ball for four minutes and took one shot. They won the tip again and did the same thing again. The game went to triple overtime. In the twelve minutes of overtime they held for almost eleven minutes of it. It’s awful.
Another thing we should think about is changing fouls from half fouls to quarter fouls. That’s what they do in college and the NBA. Four or five fouls in a quarter is enough. Once you get to seven fouls in high school the game is slowed down a lot. It takes away from what the game is supposed to be about.
TheDribbleDrop: Why do you think we don’t have a shot clock?
Coach Dave Callahan: I think it’s financial. The systems that would have to go in cost a bit of money. You have to put shot clocks above the rim where both teams can see them. Ideally you would need one on the scoreboard. I think it’s because of money.
TheDribbleDrop: You the states leading scorer in Tori Hyduke. What are some things you try to do to free her up?
Coach Dave Callahan: It's an interesting dynamic in regards to having your leading scorer be your point guard. The thing that she can do that a lot of players can't do is beat a play consistently one on one. We talked about it earlier, but if you can shoot and take players off the bounce with either hand and finish, you are a handful. Look at Kyrie Irving. What we try to do to free her up is a lot of pick and roll or pick and pop situations. As teams have adjusted and they drag two teammates with her, we are working on her kicking the ball and trusting her teammates to make the right play.
TheDribbleDrop: If I was a new first year coach about to hit the floor for the first time, what piece of advice would you give me?
Coach Dave Callahan: For starters, have a plan. You must have a plan on how you will run your practice from beginning to end. The second and most important thing is to be as enthusatic as possible. You have to be leading the charge of positive vibes. You need to encourage kids to make the right play. If you go into situation and you are a dud, then your team will be a dud.
TheDribbleDrop: How do you gauge success at Rumson-Fair Haven?
Coach Dave Callahan: Well if you look behind me you will see at least 12 or 13 state championships. We've had four trips to the T.O.C. That's how we gauge success here on the court. Our goal every year is to win Group 2 Central and make a run at T.O.C. More importantly, we are focused on training and teaching these young women to be confident, smart and make good decisions in life. We talk about it all the time but sports is a microcosm of life. If you work your hardest and help the team win, those moments will trickle over into your everyday life. We are focused on preparing them for life.
TheDribbleDrop: Anything else you want to share?
Coach Dave Callahan: I consider myself lucky to be coaching here. We lost four starters last year and had an incredible team. With that being said, I'm having as much fun this year as I had last year. I'm playing a lot of young kids and I'm excited to see them play every time they hit the floor. I'm honored to be here.