Park City girls basketball team begins its 2019-20 season on Nov. 26 against Layton Christian
Last year, Park City girls basketball coach Brett Isaacson was in his first season of leading the program.
Knowing the girls had won just a single game the previous year, Isaacson’s main goal was just to be competitive. He wanted to instill that fire back in the girls, knowing it would pay dividends in the end.
“I just really wanted to develop a positive culture, one that was based around a competitive environment that the girls could completely buy into,” Isaacson said. “It would’ve been nice to get more wins, but the goal was to make the games more competitive and we did that. We always battled to the end regardless of the score, so as the coach it was great to see that change in the girls.”
Last season, Isaacson estimates that the Miners were overmatched in just six of their 21 games, often being competitive through the fourth quarter despite their 3-18 record.
But even with that competitive spirit, Isaacson knew something was still missing. So on a whim, he decided to make a philosophical change on the court for the remaining four games. He implemented a much faster pace, scrapping the “slow it down” style of play in favor of a much more crazy style that featured a lot of pressing, trapping and quick shots.
It worked as the Miners went 2-2 in their final four games, giving them something to build on for this upcoming season.
“The girls really like playing that way, and to be honest I really enjoyed coaching that way,” Isaacson. “Throughout the offseason, summer and fall, we’ve been coaching that way, training that way and are really seeing the results pay off. Our practices are much more competitive and our girls are in great shape.”
Now Park City is a few days away from beginning its 2019-20 season when it hosts Layton Christian at 5:15 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 26.
With part one of implementing a more competitive culture done after the work last season, Isaacson is really looking forward to what this season has to offer, believing that all the hard work in the offseason will pay off with more wins.
“To help foster our new style, I signed us up for summer tournaments and then we played in a fall league as well,” Isaacson said. “To get good at playing the way we do, you need to do it on the court and the girls have completely bought in. We started doing weight training and they love that aspect of it. … They just enjoy being on the court and causing mayhem.”
Mayhem is right, as Isaacson and the Miners have adopted that as its season mantra. With how hard the girls practice and plan on playing, they want opposing teams to not want to play Park City, knowing that they’re in for a fight the entire time.
“Honestly we never talked about the change we made last year, we just did it on the fly against Tooele and after that, we decided that this is how we are playing from now on,” Isaacson said. “All good trams have an identity and now we finally feel as if we have one. We didn’t have one last year, but now we do. … And that means that nothing is safe for anyone we play.”
Isaacson said the switch in styles couldn’t have come at a better time considering Park City is now jumping up to 5A with the UHSAA reclassification. With the jump comes an expected bump up in competition, and it’s Isaacson’s belief that this style if play will allow Park City to compete against some of the tougher teams in the state and region.
“You play who you play and that’s why we are switching to this style because it gives us a better chance against the more skilled teams,” Isaacson said. “We have got some tough, athletic and gritty girls who know how to fight. If we don’t win, I can guarantee that the opposing teams will remember us. … That’s the type of team we want to be.”
With such a fast a pace and torrid style of play upcoming, Isaacson believes that he will be playing at least 10 girls per game, all of who will be on varsity. But that number could possibly be reaching 13-15 players, depending on how some of the JV players perform and if they’re up for the task based on practice and game performances.
Based on the research he’s done and the film he’s watched, Isaacson believes there is a structure to the mayhem. If he can find a way to do so, he can properly unleash the Miners on their opponents, causing the sort of havoc that can lead to wins.
“We aren’t going to be conservative, we are going to bring the game to our opponents,” Isaacson said. “We are in crazy good shape and run like hell on offense and defense. We aren’t as skilled as a lot of teams but I think we will surprise some coaches because a lot teams don’t play this way or have seen this style, and hopefully that will lead to more wins.”
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The former world champion and women’s ski jumping pioneer retired in March