Q&A: Rick Ras­mussen

Rams’ head coach speaks on New­ton’s sum­mer

The Covington News - - SPORTS - SHA­KEEM HOL­LOWAY shol­loway@cov­news.com

Editor’s note: While on va­ca­tion in Seat­tle for the hol­i­day week­end, I called up New­ton head coach Rick Ras­mussen to talk about how he thought sum­mer went for the Rams’ bas­ket­ball team. Ras­mussen talks about the Rams’ new style of play, how this team com­pares to his most re­cent fi­nal four team and if they’re a high school copy of the Golden State War­riors.

The Cov­ing­ton News: Talk a lit­tle bit about how you guys ad­justed your style on the fly and how your team played in the sum­mer leagues.

Rick Ras­mussen: We knew we were gonna be re­ally quick and we knew that we had lots of scor­ing op­tions. We get the ball down the floor so quickly with all of our guards that we knew that it would be best for us to put pres­sure on the de­fense by play­ing more up­tempo. It’s prob­a­bly the fastest team I’ve had at New­ton in the 11 years, prob­a­bly faster than any team we had when I was an as­sis­tant for seven years. We’ve got great passers and great tran­si­tion scor­ers. We’ve got guys who can shoot the three. We’re cer­tainly play­ing to our strengths when we push it as much as we can. As long as that’s what’s best for match­ing up with the team that night.

CN: You guys fin­ished with a record of 30-2?

Ras­mussen: Yeah, 30-2. That matches the ac­tual sea­son

of my 2009-2010 team that went to the fi­nal four and won the re­gion.

CN: Do you feel like this team can be as spe­cial as that team?

Ras­mussen: I think of­fen­sively we’re a bet­ter team. De­fen­sively, re­bound­ing and tough­ness in­side we’re not where that team was. So we’re more ex­plo­sive of­fen­sively and we’re not as good of a re­bound­ing team yet. I think depend­ing on who we play and how many bigs the other team has on the floor and all we’ll ad­just our lineup. But with the four-guard lineup we’re not as big and not as strong in­side de­fen­sively. That’s our area of weak­ness that we’re gonna keep work­ing on.

CN: Go­ing into the sea­son, of course it’ll be a long time from now to Oc­to­ber/Novem­ber, what is the thing that you guys need to get right to be that team that can win the re­gion, or that team that can be a No. 1 or No. 2 seed?

Ras­mussen: I think we’ve gotta sure up our in­side de­fense. We’ll lift weights and do work­outs and try to get a lit­tle more phys­i­cal, a lit­tle tougher in­side. We’ve gotta be phys­i­cally tough. If you’re gonna ad­vance in the state tour­na­ment you’ve gotta be tough. We had guys like Dono­van and Ma­lik last year that were very tough guys, tough cus­tomers and they could de­fend guys that were big­ger than them, so that’s cer­tainly some­thing we wanna work on. We wanna work on get­ting stronger in the off­sea­son like I said, lift­ing weights and do­ing work­outs, get­ting a lit­tle de­fen­sive edge

to us. We’re a re­ally good pres­sure team but the back of the press and the half-court de­fense have gotta sure up.

CN: I know you’re an NBA fan and we’ve talked a lit­tle bit be­fore about the War­riors and things like that. Watch­ing you guys play, I feel like you guys re­mind of the Golden State War­riors where you’ve got four guards who can shoot and han­dle the ball, and you’ve got that rim pro­tec­tor in Josh. Is that kind of how you feel you mold your team af­ter?

Ras­mussen: I think the re­turn­ers we had and the new­com­ers we have are what caused our team to play to the style we are, but it does re­mind me of the up­tempo style of Golden State and the dif­fer­ent shoot­ers and the flex­i­bil­ity of dif­fer­ent guys. We’ve got mul­ti­ple guys who can score in dou­ble fig­ures on a given night so it’s gonna be tough to matchup on us. We just gotta try to im­pose our will on the tempo of the other team. If we get a team, like Cleve­land was, that’s very strong de­fen­sively and you can’t run they limit your chances to get in tran­si­tion. That’s where we have to ad­just and find a way to still get good shots and score well and that’s where we’ve got to be ver­sa­tile. The deeper you go in the re­gion tour­na­ment and the state tour­na­ment the more you’re gonna find teams that are so good de­fen­sively and have so much ath­leti­cism in­side that they’re gonna try to im­pose their will on you and that’s where we’ve gotta re­ally im­prove in be­ing ver­sa­tile so that if a team doesn’t let us run we can ad­just and still com­pete at a high level in that sit­u­a­tion.

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