Rising Northwood men’s basketball team uses summer camps to improve upon title run

By Max Baker, News + Record Staff By Max Baker, Staff reporter
Posted 7/7/21

When Northwood men’s basketball coach Matt Brown created his team’s offseason schedule, he wasn’t looking to win a summer championship.

At least, that wasn’t his original intent, as he …

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Rising Northwood men’s basketball team uses summer camps to improve upon title run

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Posted

When Northwood men’s basketball coach Matt Brown created his team’s offseason schedule, he wasn’t looking to win a summer championship.

At least, that wasn’t his original intent, as he took his team to the North Carolina Basketball Coaches Association Camp from June 18-20 and Camp of Champions in South Carolina from June 21-23.

”I really wanted to see some growth in all the players,” Brown said. “I think we got that. Whether that’s someone talking on defense more often or someone taking it to the rim stronger, just little things.”

These camps challenged his young group and helped gauge where they stood against some of the area’s top competition.

After the success that Northwood has had over the last three years, Brown said he didn’t want his team to get complacent. So after competing against a few Final Four teams, a school from Georgia and other 5A teams from South Carolina, he said the month of June pointed out their weaknesses and gave his team a “reality check” that repeating their March success won’t be easy.

“They were really confident going into the summer, but playing against these really good teams, they had to come back to reality and be like ‘I need to work,’” Brown said. “I think that’s good because if we just go in there and beat every team by 20 or 30 points, they might go into the summer thinking ‘Man, I don’t need to work hard, we got this in the bag, we’ll just do what we did last year and the year before.’”

Coming off of a Final Four finish in 2020, Northwood’s 2020-21 basketball season was anything but ordinary. Like all teams in the area, the Chargers battled COVID-19 quarantines, early morning Zoom workouts and an array of other challenges that came with playing high school basketball during a pandemic. But they also had only one rising senior who had averaged more than 2 points per game in 2019.

So when the Chargers reached the 3A state title game on March 6 following 10 consecutive wins, to many, the accomplishment came as a surprise.

“It was pretty magical,” Brown said. “It was pretty awesome to be a part of. We had really good senior leadership. Colby (Burleson), Troy (Arnold), Tucker (Morgan) and Aidan (McLandsborough) took it amongst themselves to lead those younger guys. We had a bunch of freshmen on the team that had never played varsity basketball in their lives. They took it as a challenge and met it.”

For Brown, although his team lost to undefeated Weddington in the championship game, that season represented the no-excuses culture that he has been trying to instill at Northwood since he was hired in June of 2017. That culture also consists of doing the little things that nobody else is working on and controlling what they can.

But with only two rising seniors, the team will be even younger next year. Drake Powell and Fred Whitaker will take on larger roles and Brown said that 6-foot-10 junior Kenan Parrish is “getting better every day.” Although the team won’t officially compete together again until school resumes in August, team members will have to hold each other accountable through workouts, weight lifting programs and individual drills in the gym.

“The game was really physical and they saw that and now they know that (they’ve) got to get stronger,” he said.

Brown noted that the team’s defense and ball sureness needed to improve after the camps, but said that if those are fixed, he thinks they can be fairly successful this upcoming year.

“Their confidence is pretty high,” Brown said. “It’s the culture that we’re trying to instill of, we’re Northwood, we’re here, we’re here to stay, we’re not a one-and-done. They take pride in that. We don’t want to be just another program that had one good year or we had two good years, we want to have good years every year and we want to be in the conversation every year to be in the hunt for a run in the playoffs or conference championship.”

News + Record intern Max Baker can be reached at max@chathamnr.com and on Twitter @maxbaker_15.

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