The Basha (Chandler, AZ) boys varsity basketball squad went 22-7 in the 2011/2012 season, but a tough offseason that included a coaching change and two key transfers gave the team a distinctly different feel heading into the 2012/2013 campaign. Senior center/power forward Maurice Kirby , who pledged to Virginia Tech before the start of the season, entered the year expected to be one of the team’s top contributors.
“Maurice did really well,” said John Burns, Basha’s head coach in 2012/2013. (He has since resigned.) “Some games were better than others. It wasn’t necessarily about him when he didn’t do as well. Unfortunately we had a guard blow out his knee at the start of the season. That hurt our ability to effectively and efficiently get the ball inside on a consistent basis. When we went through Maurice, we were pretty good. When we didn’t, we weren’t very good.”
Basha finished the season with an 8-18 record. Kirby averaged 15.6 points and 11.5 rebounds per game, a significant improvement from his junior season when he averaged 8 points and almost 8 rebounds per contest.
“I still feel his best basketball is ahead of him,” Burns said of Kirby. “From the previous year to this year, he drastically improved. That’s evident in his stats. He’s also starting to understand as a player what it takes to work. I thought he developed throughout the year. This is the first year he was expected to do certain things, and I think he responded well. There were good times and tough times, but he improved, and I think that’s important.”
Just being more comfortable on the offensive end of the court may have been Kirby’s biggest area of improvement, Burns said.
“I call it patience. Having an understanding that,...
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