17U Indiana Impact Creating A Buzz In AAU Circuit With Hard Work

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17U Indiana Impact Promotes Team Defense, Player Trust, And Playing With A “Read & React” Style Of Play. Preparing H.S. Players With A Strong Basketball I.Q. Is A Cornerstone Of The Program.

The Indiana Impact 17U travel team continues to see remarkable success based on a team philosophy not readily seen with AAU teams – player development, instilling player trust, team offense, and team defense. “The ball will find you!” yells out Coach John O’Flaherty in a team huddle to his young players. A TEAM will always defeat individual play.

The players for Indiana Impact are:

#0 Wilson Denari, Guerin Catholic, 5' 8" PG
#2 Jack O'Flaherty, Sheridan, 5' 11" SG/PG
#3 Blake Franklin, Westfield, 6' 0" SF/SG
#10 Jamaris McCloud, Noblesville, 6' 1" SG/SF
#12 Patrick Theisen, Noblesville 6' 2", SG/SF/PG
#30 Darrion Colbert, Mt. Vernon, 6' 0" SG
#32 Philip Miller, Fishers, 5' 8" SG/PG
#35 Andy Sumner, Noblesville, 6' 6" PF/C
#44 Nick Nimtz, Bishop Chatard, 6' 8" C/PF

“We aren’t necessarily looking for players solely with high athletic pedigree. We’re looking for hard working, unselfish, and smart players who give 100% effort on each possession. I know that a lot of kids have played in different systems where there are many offensive sets, set plays, or they watch the NBA and play individual basketball. Our team is built on basic principles – a love for the game, trust for each other, court awareness, creativity, and team read & react principles. With fundamental team principles, how can you scout team creativity?” asks Coach John.

“Kids might understand ‘Help Defense’. But, do they understand ‘Help Offense’? Not everyone will have the skill or creativity of a Kobe Bryant. But, we teach kids that, as a team, we can ‘create’ offense with and without the ball, trust the pass, and easy team baskets will come. We utilize Princeton principles in our offense…the use of “reads”, backdoor cuts, front cuts, and screens. In order to take the game to the next level, players must not only “read & react” individually, but they must collectively trust each other offensively AND defensively. ‘The ball will find you’ approach yields an amazing brand of basketball if players trust each other while being creative without the ball. As each player brings their creative individual skills to the court, success comes by trusting each other, sharing the ball, and making plays together”, says Coach O’Flaherty.

That’s a novel concept for some AAU basketball observers. If there is one area that high school coaches complain about regarding AAU basketball, it’s the area where players, offensively, run up and down the court, engrain bad habits, and not play defense.

“We really focus on team defense,” says Coach John. “Defensively, it’s EVERYONE’s responsibility to ‘Stop The Ball’. We want natural defensive rotations. We close out hard on good shooters. We want our opponent’s weakest players to shoot the ball. We want shooters to put the ball on the floor. And, we want dribble penetrators to shoot.

“We teach our kids to be aggressive, everyone attacks the basket without the ball, and ‘the ball will find you’. Let the game come to you by aggressively doing the right things. Defensively, we make every effort to ‘stop the ball’. Simple concepts bring out the best, naturally, on both ends of the court. I want to make sure that when kids go back to their H.S. coaches, they are ready to play aggressively, without the ball, helping each other on both ends of the court,” says Coach John.

Over the past few weeks, Indiana Impact finished in the final four at the Indy Super Regional Tournament. Consequently, Indiana Impact qualified for the Midwest Youth National Tournament in Louisville, KY. Also, Indiana Impact played in the championship round of the USSSA National Scouting Service Tournament losing to Indiana Elite Central. When Coach John was asked how the team played to such heights, he said, “ We’re successful when we trust each other, play together, and play team defense”. Now, that’s a statement that high school coaches would approve.

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Tasha Johnson

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