There has always been a lot of emphasis on player development.
But Marine City Cardinal Mooney boys basketball coach Mike McAndrews is also interested in improving.
That has taken the veteran Cardinal Mooney High School coach all around the state to high school and college practices. Most recently, McAndrews took in a University of Michigan basketball practice.
It was his first time watching a Division 1 practice and it proved to be very beneficial.
“I try to get to various practices collegiately,” said McAndews, who has coached at Cardinal Mooney for 18 years. “I haven’t been to a Big Ten or Michigan practice. I’ve gone to Division 3 and community college. But it’s like any other occupation. You want to make sure you are constantly learning.
“Every year as a coach you want to get better. Our program is a players program. Our players dictate what we are going to do. We are not stubborn on offensive and defensive schemes. We have our core foundation of work ethic, defense and being a good student-athlete. But what we do offensively and defensive we have to continue to change. Not every year is the same.”
This season the Cardinals have one of the best young lineups in the Blue Water Area featuring several stand-out guards. That made it a natural fit to take in a University of Michigan practice, which has had success based off of spacing and guard play.
“I have done a lot of research on Coach (John) Beilein and his offense,” McAndrews said. “I reached out to them through a college teammate that is close with (assistant coach) Bacari Alexander and I was able to get out there to a practice, which was a really cool thing for us.”
What McAndrews found were similarities between his gameplan and what Michigan runs.
“I wanted to see how they break down their offense and defense,” McAndrews said. “I saw a lot of similarities. I leaned over to my brother Jim (McAndrews) and said we do a lot of the same stuff that we see them doing. As a coach, you feel pretty good about that.
“The only difference is they have 6-foot-8 kids doing it. It was great, from their facilities to being able to sit and chat with coach Alexander beforehand,” McAndrews said. “Coach Beilein stopped and asked about our program and how long we have been coaching. It was a really cool experience. You always want to better yourself and pick up ideas for your own program.”
McAndrews said he will cherish the experience going forward and continue seeking out ways to improve the program.
“I have always attempted to go to clinics and other coaches practices,” he said. “It’s something I always tried to do. In my second year of coaching I had the luxury of listening to (Michigan State University) coach Tom Izzo. He said in the game of basketball great ideas are not created, they are stolen. I’ve always tried to get different viewpoints and improve as a coach.
“One of the reasons we have been successful is that everyone who has worked with me on staff has always been willing to learn and get better. You have to in any occupation. You don’t get to be a C.E.O. of a company because you just do what you think is right. It takes a different thought process on certain things. As a coach, I want my players to see that I am going out of my way to learn and then hold themselves accountable to do the same thing.”
Contact Joseph Hayes at (810) 989-6268 or at [email protected] Follow him on twitter @jhayes1136.