There’s more to camp than just playing hoops

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By Steve Smith

GREELEY – It’s not just the playing of a game – or several – at the University of Northern Colorado each summer that keeps Prairie View’s girls basketball team in attendance.

“You’re looking for team continuity, that your team plays together and gets used to each other,” PVHS coach Nate Howard said. “That’s the biggest thing. You want to shoot better, rebound better, pass better – all the basics. Come the season, you don’t think about it. You just do it.”

Howard said a summer camp, such as UNC’s, offers teams an easier atmosphere in which to work on the basics.

“I don’t know about intensity,” Howard laughed. “But it’s easier to focus on individual skills in the summer as opposed to team skills. You want to focus on individual skills. You want the players to get better individually, if you want to change your shot. This is where you do it.”

Through the early part of the summer program, Howard was pleased to see the emerging team leadership.

“We have a lot of seniors coming back, so I’m pleased with that,” he said. “Here’s nothing they haven’t seen. A lot of my coaching is getting them to identify what’s in front of them and make adjustments. It’s almost like they got their license, and they have to drive. And as a parent, you sit back and say, ‘Here’s the keys.’ That’s where we’re at .. ‘Here are the keys. You know what you have to do. Go do it.’”

Some aren’t willing to take the leap just yet.

“They are like, ‘No, I don’t want to go outside,’” Howard laughed. “And you’re like, ‘No, you’re going outside.’”

Howard doesn’t think this is the time to install anything new on offense or defense.

“We don’t have to do that. They have to improve on what we already do,” he said.” You want your players to react, not think about what to do. If I put in new plays, then they start thinking about, ‘Do I go here? Do I go there?’ You’ve been doing this for three years. You know what to do.”

Most of the UNC camp – and another at Regis University earlier in the summer – involved the chance to play teams PVHS doesn’t see normally.

“You get to try whatever offense you’re running, whatever defense you’re running, against somebody else,” Howard said. “But what happens when you’re playing somebody with the same intensity? Can you adjust? That’s the beauty of playing in tournaments like this.”

Another reason for continued attendance at UNC is the social aspect of college.

“You’re on a college campus,” Howard said. “That’s why I come here more than anything else. I want them to see, hear feel everything. I want them to say, ‘I like this. I can do this.’ I want their attitude to be ‘where I’m going to college.’ You should want to return here or someplace similar. We can play in tournaments in the Denver metro area. It’s not like coming to a campus.

“Not even.”