Taking it to the Hoop: Moorhead Boys Basketball
There are still several weeks to go before we move inside and put our focus' on the Basketball court. The time will go by in a hurry so it's time to start previewing some of the local programs. So take a few minutes to hear from the coaches that were gracious enough to answer my questions!
The next coach who was kind enough to take some time & answer questions was Moorhead's Tyler Bormann as he & his team return to the court, looking to build on last season.
Thanks again coach Bormann!
The first thing I'm curious about is if there is a memory or two that really stands out as the highlight(s)?
"As we reflected on last season a couple of things come to mind. Above all, the development of our program was a highlight. In our second year as a staff in Moorhead we felt that the culture we wanted to build was strengthened throughout the year and not surprisingly it led to continued improvement on the court. We played our best basketball in late Feb & March, which is something we take pride in and believe is the hallmark of a tough team. For us that led to our biggest win of the year in the section quarterfinals on the road over the #2 seed in St. Cloud Tech, a team many felt would represent our section in the state tournament. We beat St. Cloud Tech on their home floor in OT, a great win for our kids and out program."
You said that you wanted to build a culture in your program. That's a common phraseology but what have you done to build that culture? How do you see it growing even stronger this season?
Since taking over as a staff we've committed to being purposeful about building The Spuds Way: contribute enthusiasm and share the sacrifice. We talk about it often in terms of how we want to play - consistently playing with great energy, taking charges, celebrating making the extra pass, being the first one on the floor for a loose ball, & finding ways to make our teammates better as examples. We use film to highlight when our guys do that in practice or game situations, and "The Spuds Way" is printed on almost every thing given to our players through the year (travel itineraries, apparel, etc.). We've tried to be consistent, devoting time to building our culture in various ways through team building activities and even through the formation of our rosters. We also have worked hard to mentor our players on how we represent more than ourselves individually, we represent our school and community and the expectation that we will do that with class and maturity. While I feel like we've taken steps toward doing those things, it is certainly a continual process so for that reason we will look to strengthen that each year that we are here."
What about if you could go back & change a play or moment from last season, what would it be and what would you have your players do differently?
"I think every game, practice, and possession for that matter offers an opportunity to reflect on what could have been improved or done differently. For the most part there isn't anything more I would ask from our players last year, as I thought we got the most out of the guys in our program. As a result of the growth and maturity our kids showed we had great chemistry."
Not specific to last year but in general, is there a particular team that your players enjoy competing against, whether they win or lose?
"I don't think there is a specific team that our guys enjoy competing against, but rather our players enjoy the challenge that comes with our overall schedule. We travel quite a bit to play teams in the Minneapolis metro and that is key for us building our program. I truly believe our schedule is the toughest HS Basketball schedule in the FM area as we regularly compete with teams such as Osseo, Minnetonka, Maple Grove, Elk River, and many others. The fact is we are measured by our ability to compete against the best teams in the state of MN so we will continue to prepare our kids by playing those teams during the year."
As for you, is there a team/coaching staff that you most enjoy coaching against?
"I have a tremendous level of respect for the basketball coaches in this area and the job that they do with their respective programs. As a profession we're blessed to have many great people in head coaching positions that I enjoy not only competing against but also learning from professionally."
You mentioned the teams that you compete against from the Twin Cities. Have you noticed a difference in how your players perform against those perceived bigger programs?
"Our players enjoy competing against the best and challenging ourselves to see where we measure up. It isn't that teams from the Twin Cities area are necessarily any bigger than us or other teams that we play, it is the style of basketball and depth of talent that often makes those teams successful and truly the measuring stick for us. Our path to get to the state tournament year in and year out includes having to get past teams like Maple Grove (multiple high major D1 basketball players produced in the last 3 years), St. Cloud Tech (5 starters last year that are all on athletic scholarships this year at the college level), and others such as Elk River, STMA, and Rogers who consistently compete at a high level as they're required to based on who they play night in and night out. Without a doubt those teams have most often been teams from the Minneapolis metro, but there are also outstate MN teams such as Fergus Falls and Alexandria, that have strong programs and talented players year in and year out."
Has the length of the travel to play those teams in their gyms ever been a negative for your players?
"In terms of travel, we choose to see that as a great opportunity to provide our athletes with a college-like experience and value that time we get to spend together continuing to build our culture through shared experiences. I believe strongly in making that a positive for us and we're fortunate to have a very supportive administration that helps make our travel accommodating and comfortable. Other teams see it as a negative to have to travel often or great distances, I see it as a way for us to become stronger as a group together for when it matters most at the end of the year."
Now to look ahead to the upcoming season.
How do you plan on building upon what you taught your returning players last season?
"Building on what I mentioned earlier, we hope to continue building and refining our the program culture. Specifically, how our players prepare themselves to compete each night through film, scouting reports, and taking care of their bodies. We plan to do that by being consistent to what we have been teaching and the standard we have set the first two years. Each day our identity as a program grows a little stronger so we look forward to continuing that this year and hopefully seeing success on the floor to a greater degree as a result."
Beyond the every team goal of a state championship are there any goals that you or your players have in mind that you would be willing to share?
"Last season we focused on being consistently competitive and I believe we accomplished that. This year we intend to take another stop forward in being a top team in our section who is prepared and poised to compete for a section title."
Now just thinking about the roster that you will have, what do you think will be the strength of your team come the first tip or even the first practice?
"The strength of our team will be our ability to score the basketball in various ways as we have a team that should be offensively versatile, including an improved ability to stretch the floor with perimeter threats and be tough to guard through our spacing. We have a young, but deep group of guards who have yet to experience their first varsity action, but as a group have a chance to be very good for us over the next 3 years. We will need them to mature and grow up as the season moves along to be successful."
Which players have already shown you that they will be leaders both on and off the court?
"We return two players who were very good for us last year and had great summers. They are both poised and prepared to have strong seasons for us this year: Maleeck Harden (senior) and Drew Hagen (junior). Maleeck received multiple D2 scholarship offers over the summer and in the last month has generated a lot of interest from NSDU and SDSU, taking visits to both near the end of the summer. Drew played his best basketball at the end of the summer with us and continues to expand on the ways he is able to impact a game. Both will be leaders for us on and off the court. In addition to Maleeck, we have a group of seniors including Anthony Angotti, Logan Garcia, Peter Narum, and Gavin Bakke who I think will bring competitive experience to our team this season."
In closing, if you could choose one game this season where you would like to see a packed home gym which one would it be?
"With being an independent and not having a conference affiliation we naturally don't have many "rivals", however with how postseason play is structured in Minnesota you need to win your section to move on to the state tournament (only 8 teams out of 64 teams in our class make the state tournament). We typically are only able to play each of our section teams once during the regular season so it puts a premium on those games for seeding purposes. For that reason I would say any section game carries a lot of weight and may have more a rivalry feel to them (this year Rogers 1/4 and St. Cloud Tech 2/5 are our home section games). In addition to that, playing teams like West Fargo, Fargo Shanley, and Fargo South due to proximity typically includes good atmospheres."