I’m not sure how many games the Peninsula High boys basketball team will win this year. I’m not sure if the Seahawks will be great, terrible, or something in between. New coach Matt Robles faces the unenviable challenge of replacing the most successful stint of basketball the school has ever seen, and finding a way to replace the production of Peninsula’s best-ever basketball player, JaQuori McLaughlin.
So I’m not sure what to expect, as far as results. I don’t know who might emerge as a star this season for the Seahawks. But I do know one thing: Peninsula will play hard.
Just over two practices into the season, Robles was yelling out to his players on the third day of tryouts. Well, he was trying to, at least.
His voice was already gone, hoarse from all the yelling during the first two days of practice.
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“I just coach with energy and enthusiasm and try to have fun,” Robles said.
Peninsula practiced fast, loud and with frantic energy. Robles said that’s the expectation every time the players step onto the court, whether it’s for a practice or a game.
“All we ask is that they give us everything they’ve got,” Robles said. “We tell them every day, ‘Just play as hard as you possibly can.’”
And that type of mentality starts at the top, which is why Robles is constantly running all over the floor and somehow managing to lose his voice after only two days.
“We kind of like to model what we want our players to do,” Robles said. “If we want our players to be vocal, we need our coaching staff to be vocal. That starts with me. We’ve got to be able to bring it every day. We’re having fun. We’re not yelling at them. We’re yelling with them and trying to get it going, trying to get them talking more. Every year, I tend to lose my voice a little bit. This year, probably a little more than most.”
There is one other thing I’m certain of regarding this year’s Peninsula basketball team: It will play tough. Robles noticed a worrying trend, seeing players call for fouls too often during scrimmages or pickup games. He put an end to that. No fouls. And there’s no whistles when two players are tied up for a loose ball. They fight it out until one of them emerges with the ball.
“We won’t back down from any opponent and we won’t make excuses,” Robles said. “I think if we just play as hard as we can, we’ll give ourselves a good chance to be in ball games. We might not win every game, but we’ll be in ball games and give ourselves a chance to compete. I think when people look at this whole program, they’re going to see a group of young men that compete and play really, really hard. And we’re going to take a lot of pride in that.”