BISHOP FEEHAN TRACES GREAT SUCCESS TO RISING STAR
By Scott Souza
It was seven years ago that Bishop Feehan boys basketball coach Matt Freeman began seeing his players attend the Rising Star Basketball School in Mansfield each summer together.
Freeman said he thinks there is no coincidence that over that span of time his Feehan squads have averaged 17 wins a season playing in the Eastern Athletic Conference.
“There’s no question that’s a factor,” he said. “The camp is an extension of the work we ask them to do in the offseason.”
That work includes the individual skill development that is offered at Rising Star through expert coaching, its effective game like “stations” drills and the scrimmages where players are able to put those newly developed skills to the test right away. But what Freeman said gives his squad a big jump on the start of basketball season three months in advance of the first practice is the ability to do all of those things together as a team.
“One of the lost arts of a dynamic basketball program is to go to a camp with your teammates and work together for a week," he said. "I think that really pays dividends. Not only does it provide individual improvement, but you get to improve your chemistry together. It’s something that not a lot of teams do anymore and I really think that gives you and edge.”
LAYING THE FOUNDATION FOR SUCCESS
Freeman says the bond his players build during their week together at Rising Star helps his players connect on the court in a way they cannot do as they take separate classes with some playing different sports in the fall.
“From 8:30 in the morning until 3:30 in the afternoon they are working on the same skills together,” he said. “This allows them a week in the summer when they are working together for something. It creates higher expectations in the season. More importantly, they are being done in an atmosphere that expects great effort."
Bishop Feehan fulfilled many of those high expectations this winter as the Shamrocks won their final 14 games of the regular season and hit the Division 2 state tournament with a 19-1 record.
Freeman, who is one of the camp’s instructors, said the players learn to work with each other as they watch the skill development of players from other schools who attend the camp. With camp locations all over Eastern Mass. from Waltham to Melrose to Hanover to Mansfield, teammates often attend the camp as a group rather than go to individual camps all over New England.
Rising Star is also set up where the stations work is then applied directly to game scenarios on the court.
“I think the drill work is extraordinary,” Freeman said. “There isn’t any wasted time. The way it’s taught is that you work on something in a drill and then you directly implement it in a scrimmage. There is nothing more rewarding than working to improve something and then seeing the work you put in pay off right away.”
SEPARATE YOURSELF FROM THE COMPETITION
When it comes to separating players of similar athleticism on the court, the difference between a starting spot on a tournament team and a bench role on an average team can often come down to that one thing a player brings to the table that another lacks.
That’s where the skill development aspect of Rising Star camps can make the biggest difference in minutes and wins when the high school season begins in late November.
“A huge segment is ball-handling,” Freeman said. “That’s a skill that most high school players are decent at, but if you put in the time to master it – and can do it with both hands – you can really distance yourself from three-quarters of the players out there. We have found that this camp really sets the tone for developing the skill necessary to be successful. The teaching component is highly stressed and the coaches really are motivated, maybe unlike any other camp in New England.
“You can distance yourself from your teammates when fighting for playing time and distance yourself from opponents when you’re in a game.”
DRAWING POWER OF RISING STAR
Freeman’s record since his players began attending Rising Star speaks for itself, but there are several key reasons why he likes them to keep coming back year after year.
“The factors that keep drawing our kids there,” he said, “are the camaraderie of being with your teammates for a week, the proximity of having the camp right in Mansfield, and the third thing is the quality of the instruction at the camp. Kevin expects that coaches and players work each day and they do.
“You are there for seven hours, and once they come around to you after a couple of stations, they are exhausted. That’s how you know they’ve gotten a workout. It’s a low-stress environment. But it’s very productive with teaching and individual improvement at the forefront. Rising Star has been a significant part of our success.”
This 21st year of the summer camps will be held in Waltham June 23-27 and July 7-11, Melrose July 21-25, Mansfield August 4-8 and Hanover August 11-15.