Cougars coach Kyle Penney is preparing for his seventh season at the helm of the SSHS program and he's pleased with progression he's seen from his players.
"I'm very pleased with our summer program," Penney said. "I think a lot of kids play too many games in the summer. I'm very pleased with what we did. Maybe I would have liked to have had one more tournament with the kids but that's kind of selfish in a way. It's not necessarily because we need it but we have a lot of the kids on those trips."
Spanish Springs fielded a team in a Carson tournament in late May. It also went to a team camp in Chico, Calif. and competed in a tournament in Rocklin, Calif. in June. Penney said his team competed in about 20 summer games in addition to its biweekly workouts.
"Our kids competed their tails off," Penney said. "It was neat to see a variety of kids step up. At one point, we took almost two entirely different teams to tournaments on back-to-back weekends. It was nice to see some other kids compete. We were missing some pretty key pieces at times and we had some young kids really step up to play."
The veteran coach said he cut his summer short by a week or two this year due in large part to a short summer break. The first day of the 2013-14 school year is slated for Aug. 12, roughly two weeks earlier than in years past.
"We've got a lot of basketball kids doing other stuff, baseball, football, whatever else," Penney said. "I could tell by talking to the kids they're burnt out, going to something every weekend. They're high schoolers and they need a break from the pressure of an organized practice with a coach there. We'd still like them to spend an hour or two working on their game, on their own, but they need some down time.
"Our basketball philosophy is we want them to take a break and be fresh and recharged. We wanted them excited to play basketball when it's time to come back."
Penney stressed that his team does play games in the summer, but team play is far from the focal point of the Cougars' summer program. He said skill development and mental preparation are more important facets of summer work.
"We want to develop our lower levels, get our freshman, JV kids who are going to be varsity-type players to get some varsity experience in the summer," he said. "We need them to see the speed of the game, and to get some fire. My biggest thing is players need to develop. Kids need to get better at their skills. They need to shoot and dribble.
"We can get a kid an open shot in a game. The question is can he make the shot. For that to happen, the kid needs to do his daily work. Games are the reward for the hard work you put in."