Noah Player Features
The Crestview Knights play a deliberate, efficient offensive style of basketball. And because they aren't very big, Crestview isn't afraid to shoot three-pointers—in fact, they rely on it. But Coach Jeremy Best wants the right player in the right spot to shoot the three.
"We're not a high-paced team so we work hard to execute the shot we want to take," Best said of his Convoy, Ohio, squad that finished 12-10 last season. "So when it's there, we want our players prepared to make the shot."
Crestview used the Noah Select system all of last season, and unlike some other success stories where the improvement was almost instantaneous, it took the Knights nine games before they saw a change.
But when the tide turned, it became an unstoppable force.
After going 4-17 in 2008-09 season, Crestview opened the 2009-2010 season losing six of its first nine games. Coach Best points to the team's 23 percent shooting from behind the three-point line as one of the main reasons.
"A lot of it had to do with our lack of confidence," Best said. "Shooting is one of those things, if you start shooting poorly and you don't have the confidence in your shot, then it's hard to turn it around."
Sure the players had devoted their share of practice time with Noah on three-point shooting. Best said when Noah arrived in August 2009, players played with it on their own time and during individual workout sessions. Then when the team commenced practice, Best and his coaches made sure they took time to implement it into their routine.
But there was a lag period until all of Noah's benefits clicked.
"Again, I think it goes back to confidence and correct arc repetion, which Noah provides," Best said. "The big thing I noticed about Noah is as our players continued to work with it and saw their percentages rise, their confidence rose. They believed in their shot, and during games when it came time to hit the open three-pointer, they knew it was going in."
Best was a confident shooter during his playing days in high school and at Bluffton University, a Division III school in Ohio. He scored over 1,200 points and was an All-American candidate in 1996.
Best (111-65 record in eight seasons) brought his basketball success to Crestview and the Knights won 80 games during a five-year stretch. The run included a team that finished 23-4 and Ohio Division IV runners-up in 2003. But lately the Knights have been rebuilding, and with a guard-dominated program, Best decided a few seasons ago to make three-point shooting a priority.
That's why Noah has been such a blessing for his program. He had read about other teams' successes in a Noah newsletter and also knew that a couple of area schools—New Knoxville and St. Mary's—had purchased one and had vouched for its effectiveness.
"When Rick Turk (Noah's National Sales Manager) came in and did the free shooting clinic, we were hooked," Best said.
So were his players.
"At first, I didn't know what it was all about," said Steven Rickard, a 5-foot-10 junior guard who averaged 10.3 points per game. "Then I started to use it and wanted to use it all the time."
Rickard has recorded around 50 sessions on Noah and is averaging an Expert IV level.
Brad Miller is another player who has benefitted from Noah.
"I was shooting around 49-50 degrees on my three-pointers and Noah bumped me down to 46 degrees," said Miller, a 5-11 junior guard who averaged 10 points per game. "My free throws were flat, around 43 degrees. Noah got me up to 45 degrees. When I got consistent with my arcs, I made a lot of shots."
The product of the team's increased confidence was a run of nine wins over the last 13 games. Crestview averaged 48 points during that stretch, improving from 39 points in its first nine games.
The Knights shot 42.4 percent from behind the arc in the final 13 games and finished 35 percent for the season.
Individually, Rickard's improvements mirrored the teams. He shot 46.7 percent (35 of 75) on three-pointers for the season. But during the last 13 games, Rickard was on fire, hitting 55 percent of his three-pointers. He also converted 85 percent from the foul line.
According to Hooplines coaches' magazine, Rickard's three-point average ranked him No. 8 while his free-throw percentage was No. 2 in the state.
"I gotta admit, I owe a lot of my success to Noah," Rickard said. "Coach talks about good shooters having reps and confidence. Noah gave me both."
Miller started the season shooting 19 percent from behind the arc, but he closed it drilling 42.2 percent and finished at 33.8 percent (24 of 71).
"I remember spending a lot of Saturday mornings after a Friday night game with Brad working on the Noah," Best said. "We charted his growth, and I could see his confidence growing. The basket became bigger for him."
With six lettermen and four starters returning, Crestview High School is poised to return to championship form. Best has just one wish.
"Sometimes I think, 'wouldn't it be great if we had two or three Noahs in our program?'"