NORMAN — For the first time, all four Norman High and Norman North varsity basketball teams will be playing tournaments between Christmas and New Year’s.
Though there’s been an explosion of such tourneys since the OSSAA ruled prior to last season that teams may play up to a 23-game schedule that includes three regular-season tournaments, don’t expect the Tigers and Timberwolves to continue sending all their squads to holiday events.
Only one of the four programs’ head coaches prefers playing games to practicing during the time.
That would be North girls coach Jeff Blough, whose Timberwolves are in Duncan at 4 p.m. today to play U.S. Grant in the first round of the Chisolm Trail Holiday Classic.
“Typical high school kids, they’d rather play games than practice,” Blough said, “and it gives us a chance to bond.”
Blough is with his players on the matter. Also, he likes the fact his team will get some time off in January while most others are playing tourneys. If the T-Wolves are suffering any nicks and bruises, they’ll have the time to heal before sprinting toward the postseason.
NHS girls coach Nichole Copeland and her boys counterpart, Matt Thornton, are on the other side of the issue.
Historically, the space between the holidays has been a period in which the hours a coach and his or her team may spend in the gym together are ungoverned by the OSSAA. Additionally, with school out, players aren’t weighed down by academics and coaches are able to use the extra time creatively.
“I’d prefer not to play (games),” Copeland said. “I’d probably rather play the early December tournament.”
It’s not like Copeland looks forward to running her Tigers ragged over the break. Still, she would have more time, even using some of it to create a very competitive environment.