09 Jul How Greenbelt tackles the challenges of summer league and Covid-19
By Nolan Wick
From the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic until this year’s summer league at DeMatha Catholic High School, Greenbelt Assistant Coach Bryan Hogg never saw his players. Now, Hogg is coaching his Greenbelt squad in multiple games a week, sometimes on back to back days.
Greenbelt are currently 4-3 in summer league, notably beating the DeMatha Stags, which ended their lengthy win streak, as they had not lost a game since February 2020. Despite that win, Hogg wasn’t focused on the final result. “We don’t really look at it as a huge milestone…we just wanna make sure we’re developing guys.”
For Hogg and Greenbelt, the primary goal in summer league is to improve players, rather than maintain a winning record. “It’s really not about wins and losses, for us it’s more so about getting better and our kids stepping into new roles. You got kids coming up from JV that are getting used to varsity, so that’s pretty much what we’re looking for.”
The pandemic complicated Greenbelt’s process of developing players, and it has been a tall task for Hogg, the rest of the coaching staff and his players to navigate. “It’s rough, not seeing the guys for a year was rough. You have guys that were freshman and playing limited minutes on JV that are now playing varsity minutes. We feel like they’re not ready yet but with some time they’ll get there… it’s been a struggle, but we’re just happy to be back in the gym,” said Hogg.
Since summer league began, Greenbelt players have drastically changed their lifestyle, going from no games to now multiple games a week. Hogg said his players are “still getting used to it” and that he reminded them about how badly they wanted to play last summer, when the pandemic forced summer league to be canceled. Coach Hogg has been encouraging his players to “take advantage of it… every time you’re on the court, leave your best impression.”
This year’s summer league has been helpful for Hogg getting to know his players more, especially since only 5 players are returning. “The guys are getting used to us and we’re getting used to the guys… it’s a struggle blending the new guys with the old guys, but it’s a challenge the coaches are up for.”
Each game has been a chance for Greenbelt to gel more as a team and learn from mistakes. Coach Hogg believes one of the most important parts of summer league is “getting our guys prepared so that when November hits, we have the best product that we could put out.”
Some players that Hogg says he has seen make the biggest improvements are Ifanieye Lewis (G-2022), James Rice (G-2022), Jaylin Payne (F-2022), Bryson Whitley (G-2023), and Carlos Kinard (G-2022).