Travis Wells has spent twenty years coaching basketball at Jamestown Community College. This year, in his second year as head coach of the women’s basketball team, he sits down to talk with the Jamestown Gazette about his team’s 1-3 record season (at the time of press), his game play strategies, and how JCC stacks up to the competition this year.
Cortney: Tell me about your team this year – it looks like you have a few new players.
Coach Wells: Yes, we’ve got a really good mix of sophomores and freshmen this year. In terms of how our team is – the girls are all kind of the same size, so they’re mostly interchangeable, which is kind of neat. We’ve also got some good shooters, and our overall team quickness isn’t too bad.
Cortney: With relatively high player turnover each year, how do you help your girls come together as a team?
Coach Wells: When we practice drills or plays, I try to pair up the freshmen with the sophomores as much as I can. There’s no pecking order – we don’t say, “Hey freshman, go carry that bag,” or something like that. We’re just a team. We try to stay unified in practice and hope that the veterans teach the rookies.
Cortney: This season, how do you compare JCC to the other teams in the league?
Coach Wells: From what I’ve seen, there’s Monroe at the very top and then Niagara right below them. Then there’s a group of six of us that will be fighting it out for that third spot. I think it’s really balanced this year among those six – everybody seems very evenly matched. That makes it interesting, because it means that every game counts, every game is really important.
Cortney: What are you trying to change this year to improve your record from last year?
Coach Wells: Last year, turnovers were our biggest weakness. We had a lot of empty possessions where we’d come down the court and not even got a shot. So this year, I’ve really been stressing taking care of the ball and at least getting a shot. So far, during our first three games, we’ve mostly been able to do that. We’re also trying to tighten up the defense a little bit.
Cortney: Speaking of, what kind of offense and defense are you running?
Coach Wells: Defensively, the philosophy is as much man-to-man as they can play. That’s what I played when I was in high school, it’s what I coached as an assistant, so I’m comfortable with man-to-man. Once in a while we’ll throw a little bit of a zone out there. Offensively, it’s kind of a mix of running set plays and also trying to teach the girls how to play the game, so they’re not like robots just going through the motions on the court. Of course we want to focus on set plays, so our best shooters can take shots, but sometimes you want to let them just play the game. That’s when you can see whether or not you’re doing a good job of teaching the game to them.
Cortney: Last question: what do you hope your girls get out of this season?
Coach Wells: Hopefully, they will get new sisters and friendships out of it. And, by the end of February and beginning of March, I hope they’re playing their very best basketball.
To read more of Cortney Linnecke’s creative and informative contributions to the Jamestown Gazette, please go to www.jamestowngazette.com.