Tenth of a point — Secrets abound in local hoops

Now we'll see just how discrete I can be.

After visiting more than half of the 14 local hoops teams from the seven local schools in the combined coverage area of The Arlington Times and The Marysville Globe, I have to admit that I'm a little excited to see how this season plays out.

This is my third stint with a newspaper that I knew very little about the athletics in the coverage area when accepting the job. That being said, there are a few things that I’ve learned, starting with one universal fact: each of my editors has said a version of the following statement.

“We take football seriously here.”

I’m not exactly sure what that means, but it always made me feel as if I should be on my best behavior on Friday nights in autumn — and I’m not exactly sure what that means either.

Nevertheless, the second thing I found out is getting a sense of the rivalries and history of an area usually takes almost a full year. Rivalries are easier because they mostly extend throughout each sport. None of those are what have me especially excited about this season, however, as the milieu of an area often reveal more about that area than what happens on the court.

I’m talking about secrets here. I’ve visited nine basketball coaches thus far to write previews for the upcoming season and more than half of them had something secret that I was told not to share.

Whether it was a secret as big as a player’s abilities, or as obvious as what kind of defense a team plans on using, I was told not to print something. While many journalists would be angry — to put it mildly — about such a situation, I made a note and started to wonder where this trend originated.

I thought having young coaches might be the cause because they didn’t know anything about any other team, so why should anybody know anything about them? It makes sense, but then I remembered that the collective experience of these coaches is varied.

I asked a former editor and a couple of colleagues why this would be and couldn’t come up with an answer. I didn’t get it until I told my girlfriend that even though I had already bought her birthday present, she couldn’t open it until I said. It’s a good gift idea and I liked knowing that I had the ability to unleash happiness with a wave of the finger.

I think if you replace “happiness” with “an advantage” in the last sentence, we’re getting at the heart of the issue. That is the beauty of the preseason, most coaches feel like they have something special to surprise the competition — and some of them do.

I guess, like my girlfriend’s birthday present, we’ll have to wait a few more days to see just how good that surprise is going to be.

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