Saturday, January 6, 2007

No Jimmy Chitwood in Park City

Traditionally, towns like Jackson Hole, Aspen, Vail, Breckenridge, Sun Valley and Park City do not have strong basketball programs. I am assigned to the Park City vs. Union jayvee game in the nonheart of the game town of Park City, Utah. It's not the game that is interesting, it's the struggle to develop enthusiasm for the sport. It's not hard to see why. The competition for 12 to 18 year olds' kids time is fierce in a town that only four years ago basically hosted the Winter Olympics. In the coaches/athletic directors office are skis, snowboards, and boots all sitting beneath the schools sports schedule. Before the game, students walk in and out of the school in helmets and ski boots - fully dressed from an afternoon or ready for an evening on the lit mountain that sits less than a mile from the gym.

"Coach Crunkleton prepared us for the tournament in the oddest most unconventional way imaginable. . . We never touched a basketball once and looked more like a cross-country team." Conroy on his coaches preparation for his sophomore year of high school basketball. Park City seems more prepared for a cross country ski race than the high school basketball games that are about to take place. Their players are thin and lanky, but not tall. They are in shape, but not basketball type athletes.

Over the past three years Park City has won only seven games. Parents complained that their was talent, it just was not being used properly. At the midpoint of this season, the coach Troy Buford called for a parent meeting to resolve problems. He resigned after the meeting. Unlike Hoosiers, their was no Jimmy Chitwood who came in and miraculously saved the coaches job. He just resigned and a new coach and staff were appointed by the school.

The new coach, Matt Nagel, doesn't look like a basketball coach, he looks more like the English teacher he is. Unlike Union where the coaches have jackets and ties on, Coach Nagel wears a tie with a short sleeved sweater while his assistant has a long sleeve sweatshirt similar to Bill Belichek.

At the half of the varsity game against Union, Park City trails by 22 points. The second half isn't much different. Union clears their bench early and although Luc Tucker of "City" as they are called, by the locals, hits four straight three pointers, they lose 54-38. Their record drops to 1-11.

The jayvee game, where programs are developed, is no different. Union takes a technical foul to open the game and then another one at the start of the second half, almost as if they are trying to keep the game more interesting. It's not interesting to me, them or City and it mostly appears Park City wants not only the second half of the game to be over, but their whole season to be over, if not their whole program.

1 comment:

  1. You will be glad to know that we ended the year with 4 wins, one double-ot loss to Morgan, big losses only to Judge, a full sweep of our rival Wasatch, and I gave Pat Conroy's book to the seniors and the coaching staff at our awards banquet. I hope you'll come to some of our games again next year. I'd love to meet you and chat with you.

    Sincerely, Coach Nagel