Year of the Point Guard

Almost every basketball coach can picture in their mind a perfect point guard. It’s a player that makes great passes, scores from everywhere and never has a turnover. Of course, there is no perfect point guard, but some come close.

Anyone with a little age on them like me, you can’t describe the perfect point guard without thinking about Bob Cousy. I only remember Cousy from those black and white televisions with one NBA game on each week. Most of the time, the Boston Celtics were one of the teams they broadcasted most often.

Cousy was slick with the ball. The Harlem Globetrotters could have used him. Not only was he a great passer and ball handler, but he averaged a career 18.4 points per game. Cousy was only 6-1, but he’s in the NBA Hall of Fame.

On the other extreme is Magic Johnson, the 6-9 point guard for the Los Angeles Lakers. Not many thought a big man like that could be a point guard in professional basketball. Magic proved them all wrong. He was versatile, though, when in the seventh game of an NBA Championship, Magic filled in for an injured Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and led the Lakers to the crown.

My favorite point guard from the past is one that didn’t make it big in the NBA. Pistol Pete Maravich was my kind of point guard. Maravich played for his dad at LSU. Usually point guards aren’t huge scorers, but Pistol, an excellent point guard, he averaged over 40 points his sophomore, junior and senior season. He also was an unbelievable passer.

It took a while before I enjoyed a good point guard on my teams. I had a decent point guard for a couple of years, but she failed to play well with my two All State post players. That’s when Chris Packer came along. She was maybe 5-3, had very small hands and bad knees. She also was tougher than any male athlete I had ever coached.

Chris averaged maybe two points a game and less assists, but she knew what my post players needed and she got them the ball. Chris dove on the floor with more abandon than any player I ever had on my team. With Chris at the point guard, we won a state championship.

I went the first three years as a college coach thinking a point guard wasn’t that big of a deal. I was really wrong. After three years of futility from lack of a talented point guard, I got smart and begged Trudy Veerhusen to come to Doane. We immediately started winning and Trudy became an All American.

Trudy was followed by maybe the best point guard I ever recruited. Her name was Mari Maaske. I just got lucky and stole her out of Chicago. She became the only first-team All American in Doane women’s history.

My first year at Northwest Missouri State began another search for a point guard. Just to emphasize the need, my Bearcat team only won four games that first year. It wasn’t until Jane Chalmers, an Australian, found her way to Maryville that we really started winning.

The 5-6 point guard, who looked chubby only because she wore double “X” uniforms led us to the first conference tournament championship in 20 years.

I have to admit, one of my favorite players and
favorite point guards wasn’t a point guard when she came to Northwest. April Miller, who played at Worth County, showed up on campus with a severe knee injury and not much shooting ability.

April realized if she wanted to play at Northwest, she had to develop point guard skills quickly. It took a red-shirt year and two years without much playing time before April became our starting point guard. You won’t find her in any record book, but April was a winner and so were the Bearcats.

What’s interesting about point guards in Maryville this winter is both the boy’s high school team and the men’s college team have two of the best point guards anywhere.

John Zimmerman has that ability to take over games when things are falling apart around him. John usually starts a little slow, but he’s usually a big factor late in the game. He’s got a great three-point shot and can really finish drives at the rim.

Justin Pitts is a college junior that is definitely the best point guard in NCAA II, maybe higher. It’s uncanny how no one has found the secret to guarding Justin. Sag off him, he’ll nail a three. Double team Justin and he’ll split it. Triple team him and he hits a wide open three point shooter.

I’ve noticed a little drop off in attendance, both at the University and at the high school. Don’t get caught not having seen this pair of game changers. Maryville is having a very good point guard year.

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