By BOB REDD
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
J.J. Oliver is a believer in teaching and executing the fundamentals in the game of basketball. This week at the Ned Shott Gymnasium, Oliver, the head coach of the Bluefield State Lady Blues, has conducted a camp where more than 40 young boys and girls are learning fundamentals that will help them be better basketball players.
“It was originally supposed to be from ages 8 to 18, but we’ve got some 5 and 6-year olds here too, trying to give them a fundamental base,” Oliver said. “We’ve got a lot of local kids who play in the local youth leagues at the Princeton and Bluefield Recs and some kids from Tazewell and even Roanoke.”
It doesn’t stop with the younger kids, as an entire high school team is present as well as some partial teams.
“The Oak Hill team is trying to get to Charleston and the state championship and Tazewell is trying to get to the Virginia championship, so hopefully we can have a positive impact on those young ladies and change their game for the better so that they can effectively use these things to get better on the floor and individually,” Oliver said.
The campers go through a wide variety of activities during the camp which begins at 9 a.m. and concludes at 4 p.m., beginning with conditioning.
“We start in the morning going through our stretching exercises and then we actually take them through some of the agility drills that we teach our own team, the Lady Blues,” Oliver said. “They go through that for an hour and then the next part of the morning they go through fundamental stations. We give them about 20 minutes at each station, going through the basics of dribbling, rebounding, passing and shooting. We also put in some defensive concepts.
“As we transition from our fundamentals we go into our mass teaching segment where we actually use our players to demonstrate some of the concepts offensively and defensively that they can utilize during team play.”
In addition to the mass teaching the campers also have individual competitions where they play games including one called “gotcha,” a free throw shooting competition, a hot-shot competition and one-on-one play. Those competitions have been ongoing all week and players will receive awards in those at the end of the camp.
“All our kids will take home a basketball, a t-shirt, a report card, a certificate and a bag,” Oliver said. At the end of the camp we will also have some trivia over some of the things we’ve taught during the week where some of them will get an opportunity to win some extra prizes.”
Each day concludes with five-on-five games where players get a chance to show what they’ve learned during instruction sessions.
“It’s kind of a build-up from the morning sessions where we work on the fundamentals, then we take it to the group with mass teaching and then we build up to the five-on-five, hoping they can put everything together in a capstone-type situation,” Oliver said.
This is Oliver’s first camp at Bluefield State and he hopes to continue it into the future. He is being assisted by member of both the Lady Blues and Big Blues basketball teams.
“My assistant coach Keisha White is our co-camp director. My players here are Tasia Nolan, Andrea Hauser, Shay Gravely and Charlene Diggs,” he said. “From the men’s team we have Vincent Rogers, Antoine Bryant, their assistant coach Devontae Royal and Corey Love.”
The camp concludes today at the Ned Shott Gymnasium.