Basketball is often viewed as a star’s game. One player can take over a game and sometimes make a team. That’s not the case for Liberty High School. The Lions sport an 8-2 record, and they have gotten there through the team mentality.
“No one cares who’s getting the credit. They’re sharing the ball,” Liberty head basketball coach Mark Wood said.
Wood and his coaching staff put a special focus on the off the court aspect of basketball. Each player goes through a leadership academy, as well as character development programs.
In the past, Liberty even had a character coach to help facilitate with the training. In recent years, Wood has taken over those responsibilities and made tweaks along way with the ultimate goal and expectation of every player on the team being a leader.
“The more leaders the better. If everyone has that same mindset that they want to be tough and contribute to the team, that only makes us better,” senior forward Brandon Dixon said.
Wood says the roster as a whole has stepped up in a big way and shown they can lead together, and they have an admiration for a tough brand of basketball. Dixon says the team may be undersized, but their toughness and roster cohesion has fueled their hot start. If an opponent scores on the Lions, they will have to earn it.
“We just say we’re going to play tough. Once we play tough…we just feel like the rest of it will take care of itself, and I can live with the results,” Wood said.
Wood can be pretty happy with these results early on in the season.
With the players buying into the programs off the court, they have made an impact on the court, and they hope they believe their trust, compassion, selflessness, courage and effort, the very things their off-court programs are built around, will continue all season, both on and off the court.