Return of ‘hustle’ is refreshing

Some early observations on the area high school basketball scene.

It’s been nice to see the effort and determination displayed by local teams in the first part of the season.

In the games I have attended, it seems “hustle” has once again returned the hardwood.

Over the years, too much emphasis in my opinion has been placed on offense and scoring, and many “run-and-gun” contests have taken place with defense being an afterthought.

Some have resulted in high-scoring exciting affairs, but typically a turnover fest with bad passing and lazy execution is the norm.

I’m not saying the games I have witnessed are lacking the miscues … these are high school kids that will make mistakes. Teenagers have minds that sometimes are elsewhere, which doesn’t include the playing court.

But a difference I have noticed is the attitude of the players on the court. If they commit a mistake, they’re not holding their heads down and frowning. They are hustling back on defense and looking to make a play on that end of the court to help their team.

There are not many Division I or to some degree, D-II players floating around the area.

So to be successful, our local squads have to rely on hustle and smart play when they go against the premier teams in the state once postseason play gets underway.

Don’t get me wrong, there are numerous talented players in the area. But other parts of the state have higher student enrollment numbers, which give them an edge in filling out a roster … the talent pool is just deeper.

That’s why I commend the hard work our local kids have displayed in the past to compete against the best the state has to offer.

Talking to several coaches during the preseason, a majority praised the efforts of their players during offseason.

This a refreshing change from past years where coaches were critical of work ethics displayed by their players.

This writer’s hope is all our area teams continue to improve as the season progresses. To get as many teams in Charleston for the state tournament would allow the entire state to see what type of student-athletes our region produces.

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Flipping on the NFL Network this week, I saw a very touching piece on the relationship between Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and Blaine Stewart.

For those unfamiliar with Blaine Stewart, he is the son of former Mountaineer head football coach Bill Stewart, who tragically passed away in 2012 of an apparent heart attack at age 59.

Tomlin got his first coaching gig as an assistant under Stewart at VMI.

The “NFL Films Presents” piece is called “Tomlin and the Stewart family.”

I can do no justice describing the relationship in print. It’s something I encourage you to view on television or online.