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Published: Tuesday, 1/11/2011

Monroe boys basketball aims to rebuild with radical game plan

As the first-year coach of the Monroe High boys basketball team, Dave Arnold is going through the introductory phase of his program.

Arnold is still introducing himself and his schemes to his players and the Trojan fan base. And on the flip side, he's learning which players work best in what situations, and more importantly, which players are making the needed commitment to Arnold and his program.

This step doesn't always go smoothly for new coaches, and for Arnold, it's been a struggle at times.

The Trojans are off to a 2-3 start with mixed results. They came from behind to win their season-opener 90-87 at home over Southgate Anderson and then got blown out 90-58 at Rogers on Jan. 4.

"This thing is in its infancy, and it's going to be a little bit of a feeling-out process," said Arnold, who previously was the head boys basketball coach at Whitmore Lake for four seasons.

"Once we get everybody on the same page and understanding how things are going to operate around here, I think we'll be OK. It's just going to be a work in progress for a while."

Adding to some of the difficulties is the radical system Arnold runs -- one in the same mold as the one employed at Grinnell College in Iowa.

Basically, the whole gameplan is to play full-court press defense the entire game and run a lightning-fast-paced offense that emphasizes 3-point shooting and offensive rebounds. Players also are substituted in and out as often as possibly five at a time, similar to line changes in hockey.

On a given night, Monroe sets out to attempt at least 60 3-point shots during a game, and most possessions last just 10-12 seconds.

The Trojans are averaging 69.0 points per game utilizing Arnold's system, which he also employed at Whitmore Lake, but also are surrendering more points than they score at 80.4 per game.

"It's one of those things where I'm kind of walking a fine line right now," Arnold said. "Obviously I wanted to bring the style of play that we were running at Whitmore Lake, which we had success with, and wanted to go up and down the court and shoot a lot of 3's and play a lot of guys.

"[But] we've created some obstacles for ourselves in that regard in terms of our practice habits and practice attendance and people really buying into something a little bigger than yourself. We've struggled with that."

Monroe does have some pieces in place to at least be competitive this season.

Junior guard Tedd March had five 3-pointers to finish with 15 points against Southgate Anderson in the opener.

Junior Cooper, a 6-8 senior forward, led the Trojans with 16 points against Rogers last week after being suspended for the first game of the season because of being late for practice.

"He's somebody that, frankly, has struggled a little bit with the transition," Arnold said of Cooper. "I didn't think he would because physically, he's got a ton of gifts."

As for the rest of his players, Arnold had a long, heart-to-heart with them after the Rogers' game, and his message was clear.

"It's about what we do," Arnold said, "and there's some things we have to work on and try and get better at. Hopefully those things will come around for us eventually."

Contact Zach Silka at: zsilka@theblade.com or 419-724-6084.



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