Coaching changes aren’t easy on high school athletes, particularly those with only one season of athletics eligibility remaining.
When the person exhaling into the practice whistle is Jerry Bomholt, let’s just say the adjustment period must be widened a bit.
“It’s difficult,” said Franklin Community High School boys basketball player Keenan Wood. “The defense. Knowing your assignments. He demands perfection, but if you’re not trying to reach the highest goals, then ...”
Exactly. What’s the point?
THE WOOD FILE
Name: Keenan Wood
Family: Parents, Greg and Kristine; brothers, Schuyler, 24, and Logan, 23; sister, Shelby, 21
Favorite TV show: “SportsCenter”
Favorite food: Japanese
Favorite movie: “Shooter”
Favorite athlete: Paul George
Favorite team: Indiana Pacers
The 5-foot-10 point guard, the Grizzly Cubs’ leader a year ago in scoring (16.7), assists (3.2) and steals (1.6), is transitioning nicely into Bomholt’s highly structured system. Wood again finds himself the pace-setter in all three categories (15.3, 6.5, 3.5) for a Franklin squad riding a five-game winning streak after starting the season 0-2.
It should be noted the presence of a varsity veteran such as Wood, whose first start came against Center Grove during the 2010-11 season, also makes the new coach’s job that much easier.
“Keenan has been an absolute jewel, not only to coach, but to watch progress,” Bomholt said. “I’ve coached an awful lot of good point guards over the years, but I’ve never had one who puts everything he has into practices and games like he does. Really good players make everyone else around him better, and Keenan does that.”
As someone in his 33rd season of being a boys head basketball coach in Indiana, Bomholt has the luxury of going old school when making player comparisons. He was an assistant for Bob Fuller at Anderson Highland in 1977-78 when he got a close-up view of the late, great Jack Moore.
A 5-9 mighty mite who ran Muncie Central’s offense with an iron will, Moore led the Bearcats to the state championship that season before being named an Indiana All-Star. He went on to score 1,204 points at the University of Nebraska before tragically perishing in a private plane crash in 1984 at the age of 24.
Wood doesn’t possess the almost unguardable level of quickness of Moore during his senior season. However, Bomholt insists his floor leader’s decision-making inside 8 feet of the basket is very Moore-like. When to shoot as opposed to dish it off, and vice versa. The ability to go in among the trees without drawing an offensive foul.
Lofty praise to be certain, but Wood relishes the constant challenge of making the decision best suited for that particular moment in a ballgame.
“I usually start by trying to get people involved. You definitely want to find someone who is going to score with you because that builds their confidence for that game or maybe for a future game,” Wood said. “As a point guard it’s my job to find teammates and get them open shots. Seeing them score is just as satisfying, especially when we win.”
He adds, “If that’s not working, I’ll take it upon myself to score points or be more aggressive inside.”
Last season, Wood, despite missing two of the Grizzly Cubs’ 22 games because of a concussion, led Franklin in 2-point, 3-point and free-throw attempts by wide margins. This plays right into Bomholt’s way of thinking, as the coach “has always had point guards who can score.”
Playing valuable minutes for Bomholt also means doing one’s part in the coach’s trademark 1-2-2 zone defense, which to this point is allowing only 44 points a game. Again, Wood is living up to expectations.
“I can play Keenan on the top or on the wing and he is our best perimeter defender,” Bomholt said. “He’s just been a pleasure to coach.”