MARICOPA — Currently in the midst of an up-and-down 3-3 season, George Carmen admits that there are some growing pains as a first-year coach at Maricopa.
For one, Carmen is an experienced basketball mind, both as a standout player at Trevor Browne and as a coach at Casa Grande Union and Baboquiviari. However, he only has one prior year of experience coaching the girls’ game. That one year came in 2015 with Coolidge, and he hadn’t run a program since. But after a few years off teaching, he decided the time was right to go at it again.
“It’s very challenging transitioning from boys to girls,” Carmen said. “You have to change your style of coaching, you have to change the way you do things. There are just a lot of different dynamics.”
Then there are the dynamics of this team in particular, which only has three players with varsity experience entering this season. As Carmen puts it, his starting five currently consists of a volleyball player, a cheerleader, a streetballer, a girl who hasn’t played since junior high and a foreign exchange student from the Netherlands who hasn’t played a basketball game her entire life.
“To me, this team has so much potential, but they’re all new,” Carmen said. “Many of them have never played in a varsity game until this year. So I’m not just teaching them plays, I’m teaching them how to play. And therein lies all the trials and tribulations so far.”
Haylee Brown, as the tallest girl on the team, is asked to do a lot in the post as a rim protector and physical presence, allowing others like Jayden Bridges and Meoni Edwards to create around the perimeter.
Carmen, who still teaches as the elementary level, said it’s added another challenge that he’s not around on campus, so the players only get to know him the two hours they practice everyday. He said it’s going to take some time to get everyone on the same page so they’re winning on a consistent basis. But he doesn’t doubt it will happen, and he said a playoff spot isn’t too much to hope for.
“They’re still getting used to me. They’re still trying to buy in to what I’m teaching them,” Carmen said. “But they’ve got to trust each other as a team, and realize this is a team game and that they’re only as good as the four others who are playing with them. There’s just so much room for growth here, because they’re just realizing what it takes to work hard and play the right way.”