Shawn Zargarian wanted to add a new wrinkle to his annual Coach Z Basketball Camp.
Zargarian, the veteran Crescenta Valley High boys’ basketball coach who guided the Falcons to an amazing postseason run last season, had the ideal group on hand at his event to experiment with inside the school’s large gymnasium.
In addition to completing various drills like shooting, passing and rebounding, Zargarian wanted to add another aspect to the mix to help properly execute the exercises.
The idea went off without a hitch during the 14th rendition of the camp, which began July 22 and wrapped up Friday and featured 55 participants.
“We’re always trying to improve the camp to help the kids evolve in their all-around game, no matter the level of competition they are playing at,” said Zargarian, who guided Crescenta Valley to a record of 29-6, 11-3 in the Pacific League for second place before reaching the CIF Southern Section Division II-A semifinals and CIF State Division III Southern California regional final last season. “I like to teach different techniques.
“Typically in the past, we’ll do a 2-0 pick and roll drill with no defender. Now, we’ll do it, but with a defender out there. So, it forces the player with the ball have to make different decisions and how to make the right move or moves. You have to learn how to make a decision when options are taken away.”
Zargarian explained the multiple drills, while receiving assistance from his coaching staff and current and former players.
The camp was designed for boys and girls ages 5-14 and attracted participants from La Crescenta, Glendale and Burbank. In addition to the drills, pick-up games are held and the campers receive an evaluation.
“Having right around 55 people is the perfect number because I’ll have my assistants working with them in different stations and I’m able to get to each group and see how they are doing,” said Zargarian, a Crescenta Valley graduate and former player. “You can see how the players make decisions with and without the ball, how they do with their footwork and we try to be as detail oriented as possible.
“Most of these people play five or six times a week, so they are always active and improving. They can take something away from here and apply it at their level and in a game.”
The camp featured participants who have attended the event in recent years, as well as first-time athletes.
Chris Kalachian, 13, made his second appearance after first attending last year.
“I see it as just a great opportunity to be able to learn from [Zargarian] and they want to help you move forward,” said Kalachian, a La Crescenta resident who attends Rosemont Middle School.
“It’s important to be able to know how to make decisions when you are being defended and ball movement is such a key; learning how to get off a screen in order to shoot.”
Alex Andriassian, a Burbank resident who attends Pilibos Middle School in Los Angeles, made his first camp appearance.
“I’m trying just to work on my overall game and have some fun,” Andriassian, 11, said. “I’m trying to work on improving my dribbling and shooting.
“Coach Z has a lot of experience and has had a lot of great players come here. It’s just a great chance to be able to learn from somebody like him.”