Panthers off to 10-6 start in second season under new coach
FARMINGTON — Devon Manning learned the value of buying extra time looking for that next good shot during his playing days at NCAA Division II power Fort Lewis College.
Setting up high-percentage shots with crisp ball movement helped the Skyhawks sustain greatness, and the 2008 FLC graduate has instilled that vision in his players while leading the Piedra Vista boys basketball program.
"If you move the ball well and you have a purpose with your ball movement, you're going to get a shot that you want," said Manning, now in his second year with the Panthers after four seasons coaching at Bloomfield. "It may take 10 passes before you get that shot. The more you make that defense move, the more they're going to get impatient, the more they're going to be out of position."
Prior to Manning's arrival, PV relied significantly on creating scoring opportunities in transition. It took much of last season for Panther players to adjust to Manning's system, especially with the patience required to run it effectively.
But it's now yielding more satisfactory results.
"It definitely gets us better shots out of it. We saw it start to pay off last year," senior shooting guard Jarrett Graham said. "We had to be more patient to just get better shots."
PV (10-6) occasionally gets some good looks on the fast break, but the Panthers remain methodical in locating that ideal spot — whether it's an open 3-pointer in the far left corner of if they pass the ball into the paint.
"Somebody catches it on the wing and is ready to take a good 3, but he makes an extra pass to a guy that just made the shot. To me, that's beautiful basketball," Manning said.
And whenever PV may not have a clean look under pressure, the Panthers now opt to pull the ball back out, re-evaluate what's happening and respond accordingly.
It's all about working smart, not hard, to get that desirable shot.
Even if it takes a full minute for that shot to happen, that patience is well worth it to Manning.
Matt Hollinshead covers sports for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.