Wilkes-Barre, a town in need of serious help.

I live in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. I have lived here the majority of my life. Growing up it was a decent community. The crime was never really out of control and people tended to look out for one another. Murders were relatively non-existent. It had your typical crimes like any other community. It was a nice place to live.

It has changed quite a bit over the years. Drug use and peddling has decimated this once pleasant community. Wilkes-Barre is located between New York and Philadelphia. It apparently looked like an easy target for the drug pushers. In 2013 we have had 13 murders, more per capita then parts of New Jersey, Philadelphia and New York City. All but 2 of these murders were connected with drugs, with the majority being committed by people from outside the area.

There are about 41,000 people living in the city. We have 81 police officers. We are supposed to have 91, but our mayor does not believe we need a full complement. 7 officers recently retired and there are at least 4 that were hurt while on duty. 2 of which most likely will not return. So that leaves us at 74 officers. Mayor Tom Leighton recently said the city was hiring 10 officers. He neglected to mention the retirees. He also said he doesn’t believe there is a crime problem in Wilkes-Barre. It seems as if his head is buried in the sand.

Facebook is used by 40% of the people in the U.S. daily. As much garbage that you find on there, you also find some very useful sites. I follow several Crime Watch pages, with Wilkes-Barre Crime Watch 2 being my preferred page. Before I go on I would like to say that I know the Police work hard. I know that it is a difficult job. I believe our area needs at least 100 if not 120 officers to stop the disintegration of our community. But daily we here about calls being put on hold. Officers having to wait to go on a call because they do not have an officer to assist them. There are 6 Cops on the streets during all three shifts. Does anyone believe this is enough?

Wilkes-Barre spent a large sum of money to put cameras up around the city. None of them seem to work. What is the use? The mayor has been called out for shady deals on local properties. He is very dismissive of citizens who question him at City Council meetings. He has called citizens names at these proceedings. The city pays for his alarm system at his home. During his tenure as mayor the city has progressively gone downhill. Taxes are raised, garbage bags cost more, permits cost more, recycling fee and all other city fees have gone up. Yet t hth e city no longer cleans the streets and cannot hire more officers. We also recive money from the Casino, the naming of a local ice rink and parking meters. Where is all of this money going?

If a city is having the amount of trouble Wilkes-Barre is, why are they nit asking for help? Why are the State Police not involved? Why are other local police forces only used on occasion? Why is the DEA or FBI not involved to help with the drug problem? Why are citizens calling about drug deals being made out of a house for 2 years and nothing has been done? Why are arrest records being fudged? Why are people that were busted for drugs on the street? Why are those said people on bail and being busted for murder? These are some of the issues facing Wilkes-Barre. Why are we not getting answers for our questions?

Growing up I could walk all over my neighborhood. Now I don’t let my daughters go anywhere. The tax base is shrinking in our area because people are leaving. Who wants to deal with this? I believe Wilkes-Barre has reached a breaking point. If something is not done soon, we will face a mass exodus. There is no reason this can’t be the city my parents knew. It is time to fix our broken city.

Our first 2 Basketball practices.

      We started practice this week. We have 2 practices a week, for about an hour and half each time. I am the Assistant Coach and have never coached basketball before. Our first practice we made them run suicides and laps. Then ran a scrimmage in order to get a grasp of their skills. I was a bit disappointed that we did not run any drills at our second practice. We had them shoot some layups, 2 vs 2 and another scrimmage.

First I will go with the positives. They rebound well, hustle and have a grasp of the 2-3 zone, as well as the man press. They are not afraid to shoot, although they do not make many shots. We have some height, some speed and some kids who just started playing. They are aggressive and are more than willing to go to the floor for the ball.

Now the negatives. They cannot make a shot past the foul line. They do not know what I mean when I ask them to cut. They do not move without the ball or box out. Do not know what it means to post up, have only ever learned one play, the split. The left side of the floor is not used, all of them dribble directly to thev right side into the corner. Our ball handling is very shaky. One girl throws up shots from anywhere and has only hit the rim on 3 of 17 shots.

I believe in being fundamentally strong. My drills will first focus on good ball handling, then move on to moving without the ball and then learning post position. Then I want to install a 3-2 motion offense and focus on the 2-3 zone defense. Hopefully I can help improve their shooting as we go. This is our schools inaugural season and hopefully we are at least competitive.
Most of the teams we are playing have been practicing 5 days a week for over a month. Hopefully I can get the Head Coach to buy into this, because there does not seem to be a plan.

I have never watched basketball at this level before. It is very chaotic and messy. It is hard to get a grip on. Slowing it down does not seem to be an option. If anyone reads this and had any suggestions please send them my way. I would greatly appreciate it.

Coaching what I have learned.

         I have coached girls rec soccer for about 3 years. When I started I was clueless. I started preparing about 3 months before the season. I had never played soccer and knew very little about the game. I immersed myself in book after book and was searching online daily. I found drills and ways to prepare for practices and games. I found a plethora of information helping me to get ready to coach pre-teen girls. That is hard on its own.

Basketball Season starts soon.

      November 18 is our first school basketball practice.  I will be an Assistant Coach for the 7th and 8th grade girls team. We will have 3 practices before the season starts. So we are a little behind the 8 ball here. Not to mention 4 out of our 13 girls have never played before. This will be my first time coaching basketball. I am very excited.

When I played I was an above average point guard with a good jump shot. I am a little nervous going into this, mostly because I have expectations becausr of playing experience. I never played soccer so it was easy to coach. I have started reading books on coaching girls basketball and the ideas I have are pretty similar. Defensively I would like to play a 2-3 zone, with occasional full court press. The theory if played correctly forces the shots to be taken from outside or forces teams to dribble into the teeth of the defense. I hope the theory holds up.

Offense will be a bigger challenge. We are a tall team that lacks any true ball handlers. They also do not like body contact, so boxing out is going to be a chore. Our most talented player shoots like a chicken would (odd description, but fits perfectly). She has never seen a shot she didn’t like or could make. She makes less than 30% of her shots. The half court offense that makes the most sense to me here would rely heavily on the pick and roll and/or a motion offense. I think these styles would give us closer looks at the basket. The other odd problem, no one wants to shoot. I found that odd, most boys can’t shoot enough.

Last year they lost every game. Their closest loss was by 18 points. Our work is cut out for us. But I am used to being in this position, taking over a team that doesn’t know how to win. Our first priority is to be competitive, then hopefully win. I will post more, hopefully daily. I would like to update my ideas and hopefully get some input.Thank you.