03/18/12 — Team executes Mitchell's philosophy

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Team executes Mitchell's philosophy

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on March 18, 2012 1:52 AM

Convincing a group of individuals to set aside their personal aspirations for the betterment of everyone involved can be a daunting task on its own.

Persuading 11 teenagers to abandon their own desires in hopes of achieving success as a collective unit can at times appear impossible.

Rosewood head coach Daniel Mitchell not only discovered ways to develop chemistry among his players, he got his team to buy in to a patient, methodical style of offense. Mitchell guided the Eagles to 14 wins and a second consecutive trip to the third round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 1-A playoffs.

For his efforts, Mitchell has been selected the 2011-12 News-Argus All-Area boys' basketball coach-of-the-year.

Rosewood lost a number of significant players from a year ago, and returned a mix of ball handlers, shooters and post players this season. Knowing he had a talented, but somewhat inexperienced group, Mitchell tested his team with a non-conference schedule that included a pair of games against Midway, Lakewood and Lejeune.

The Eagles also faced Arendell Parrott Academy and Charles B. Aycock and went 4-5 during non-conference play -- losing four of those games by fewer than 10 points. Mitchell knew the experience his players gained while playing close games would be valuable during Carolina 1-A Conference play.

"We played some good teams and in a lot of those games we lost we had opportunities to win," Mitchell said. "We would have a lead late and couldn't find a way to get it done in the fourth quarter. I knew it would be a growing experience as the season went along."

Rosewood began conference play 2-4. After a humbling 63-34 home loss to Ayden-Grifton in late January, Mitchell and assistant coach Eddie Maldonado sat their players down for a talk. The Eagles discussed the importance of each player understanding their individual roles and how the fulfillment of those roles factored into the team's overall success.

"In that loss to Ayden-Grifton, we had a really bad game," Mitchell said. "It was our worst loss of the year. We sat down and a had a team meeting and talked about roles on the team, and what we needed to be as a team in order to be successful."

Mitchell's message was received and Rosewood responded by winning seven of its next nine games before losing to Rocky Mount Prep in the third round of the playoffs. A key part of the Eagles' success was their patience and ball movement while dictating the tempo of games with their slow-paced offense. Rosewood averaged only 52 points a game, but won numerous ballgames by forcing opponents to play slower than they preferred.

"It takes a lot of discipline and we teach them to be disciplined," Mitchell said of his offense. "The key for us is being able to defend and taking opportunities when we have them on offense. We have to be patient to get a good quality shot on offense and it is difficult for them at times. It is not that we don't want fast breaks or our kids to get out and run because we do, we just want to get the most out of our possessions."