Getting back to the basics

LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE — Inside the Renaissance Academy gymnasium stood five designed human obstacle courses.

It looked akin to one preparing for a driving test in which the driver must successfully maneuver their car around a set of orange pylons without hitting them.

One by one with a basketball in hand, all of the 50 participants attending the eighth annual Hoop Academy conducted by Renaissance basketball Coach Sid Cooke took their respective turns quickly dribbling while maneuvering around the stationary group. The drill lasted about 10 minutes.

It's a practice that's been of significant use to Glendale resident Taylor Anderson, who made his third appearance at the camp that he hopes will be a springboard to someday possibly launch a career playing for the Glendale High boys' basketball team.

"You are out there learning a lot of new things," said Anderson, who will be a freshman at Glendale in September. "The other day, I didn't move quick enough with my left-handed dribbling. It's gotten better.

"I want to work more on my dribbling and defense."

Anderson wasn't alone practicing the drill.

Wearing a green Boston Celtics T-shirt, Rachel Nakamura, who will be a freshman at Crescenta Valley High, also came to the week-long camp that began Monday and concluded Friday looking to improve her skill level.

Nakamura planned to work on her shooting and ball handling.

"Coach Cooke is the best coach I've worked with," said Nakamura, who made her first camp appearance. "He's always explaining what you are doing right and wrong.

"There are always a bunch of things that you can do better."

Cooke, who piloted Renaissance to an appearance in the CIF Southern Section Division VA semifinals last season, criss-crossed the court several times watching the campers complete their assignments. With whistle in mouth, Cooke timed the length of each drill before sending the campers, ages 11-16, on to another drill.

When the camp began in 2003, Cooke estimated about 20 people showed up. It's since expanded.

"We have gotten a lot of kids from the area high schools and some out in the San Gabriel Valley," said Cooke, who led Renaissance to an appearance in the championship game of the CIF Division V State playoffs in Sacramento in 2008. "It's mostly about working on the fundamental details.

"You have to be able to learn all of the steps in a certain drill. You can't skip past step B to get to step C. It's also a lot about being aware at all times on the court offensively and defensively."

Copyright © 2019, Glendale News-Press
EDITION: California | U.S. & World