This week’s Tribe Spotlight features Donnie Mayes, Head Basketball coach of the La Monte Lady Vikings. Check out his website http://donniemayes.com.
I started coaching basketball at the youth level in 1998. I pretty much coached the way that I was coached in High School. Most of the plays were the same with a few minor tweaks. I worked myself up to Jr. High for a few years, and then in 2007, I got my first crack at Varsity girls. I still ran my own offensive and defensive sets and the record was 4-18 my first year. The next season I went to a different school. This was the start of my new Read and React life.
I watched the Jr. High girls a few games so that I would know what I had coming in and I went out searching for knowledge and for something that I could use to build a program. I found both in the form of Rick Torbett. I went to a couple of clinics, met some coaches that were running (Read & React) and started to develop friendships along the way. I will say that I did NOT like the idea of one system for both man and zone defenses. All of my eggs in one basket was scary. “What if it didn’t work?” “What if they don’t like it or get it?” Those were two big questions in my head.
I was still very green teaching it, although I am comfortable teaching new things as I have been instructing Karate since 2000. My first season running the Read & React we went 6-17 as I was also still learning the new system as the players were. Nothing to write home about but in my next five years at that school, we continued to increase our wins each season, as well as our offensive output, and defensive efficiency. My final season there our record was 15-10. During my tenure, we won several tournaments, and even played for a District Championship.
During the 2013-2014 year I retired to be a fan of the game again.
That lasted only a year.
I got called back into coaching at a different school. One of the smaller schools in the state of Missouri. This school had gone through several coaches the previous four years with moderate levels of success. I began implanting the Read and React as well as the Dynamic Defensive system during the summer. The team loved it. They loved having the feeling of control out on the court. I told them that it is their team, and that they should have ownership in it. This really helped the players buy-in to the process. We were accomplishing things in practice that I feel they had not had before. Day after day, players came in ready to learn and work at the system. I called it Organized Chaos because that’s what it looks like. I told them that I had scouted them years prior and could tell them who would go where based on what call, and with this system, unless other coaches are mind readers, the only person that would know what is going to happen next is them, pointing out why it cannot be scouted. We opened up 8-0 last year and won one of our conference tournaments.
This is a small 1A school playing in a bigger conference that is full of 2A and 3A schools. This group also won their first ever District game and went on to win Districts, which was the first in over 20 years for the school. In the Sectional game, we faced the #1 state ranked 1A team and got down by 22 in the third, but fought back to within 9 and ended up losing by 11. At the end of the season, we were in the final 16 teams in the state! This team was (and still are) full believers in what the Read & React offense can do. I am only losing one player and we are looking to continue the march for next season. We ended with an 18-12 record.
I feel that the increased wins each season with two different teams shows the true power of how this offense can build a program, not just a year to year team. I love how the Read and React gives the players total ownership of the team and empowers them to make their own decisions that they think is the Next Best Action. I have noticed that when they see the success or failure on the team is also on them, their desire to succeed increases. I also love the fact that the collapsing of time frames happens organically and they get to work defense at the same time. We accomplish in 90 minutes or less what used to take two hours or more to get in. My initial fear of having all my eggs in one basket have definitely been squashed!
After the success of this year’s team, my focus is to get the Jr. High and youth girls to begin running the Read and React. Developing a program is something that I love to do, and I feel that if that is to happen anywhere, it is imperative that the younger teams run the same system as the High School. With the Read and React, it is amazingly simple to learn, and after continuous repetitions, the muscle memory kicks in and the program building has begun. I also love the fact that this works on man or zone defenses without many alterations to what they already know. We love when teams man up on us, but we don’t panic when they change it. We just Read what they are doing, and React to it accordingly!
I love seeing other coaches that come scout us scribbling on a page, then tearing off that piece and wadding it up, only to have them come ask what I am running because they could not figure it out. Something I use to throw off opposing coaches is that I will yell out a play during the game. The girls know that I do not actually call plays, so it is a strategic move to get the other coaches associating that play call with whatever they just saw on the court. Unfortunately, the next time, it may be something totally different that they do on that call.
As much as I believe the Read and React could benefit every team out there, and teach them HOW to play the game, I enjoy having the advantage over my opponents come game time.