There was a small whiteboard on an easel off in the corner of the Oak Ridge Elementary School gym in East Sandwich. On it were seven tips under the headline “Less/More.”
Less games and more development. Less fast food and more healthy food. Less talking and more action. Less video games and more sleep. Less partying and more preparing. Less screen time and more family/friend time. Less on the couch and more in the gym.
Bob Catalini, a former educator and high school coach, doesn’t just preach the less is more approach, he lives it. It’s part of the reason he keeps his summer hoops clinics to less than 20 players per session.
“I’m more concerned with quality than quantity,” he said.
And it’s the main reason kids drag themselves out of bed four times a week for 8 AM work outs in the middle of their summer vacation.
“I like how everyone enjoys being here and we’re all trying to get to the same goal,” recent Bourne High graduate Paul Rossignol said.
More than just the one-on-one attention basketball players receive, it’s the foundational groundwork that gets laid in these 90-minute training sessions that keeps players coming back.
“I stopped by yesterday and got my first experience and liked it as soon as I stepped on the floor,” said Kaiden Silva, a rising senior at Mashpee High School. “He goes out of his way to help people one-on-one, which goes a long way. That helps so much.”
Silva, like the 14 other players in attendance for the Tuesday, July 2 workout, has things he’d like to fine-tune in his game—specifically his form shooting. He said he’s had issues with his shot from a young age and he’s hoping to correct that in time to be an impact player for the Falcons’ varsity basketball season this winter.
Who better to see than Cape Cod’s very own shot doctor?
“Most of them just need tweaking. Your shot is like a golf swing: everyone’s is different, but as long as you have the good basic stuff you’re going to be OK,” Catalini explained. “But not every shot is the same. That’s your identity, your fingerprint. Your shot is unique to you.”
The shooting drills started from close-range, like, really close-range. Players started from just two feet away from the hoop as they shoot one-handed, working the ball up from the chest and extending through the goose-neck finish well above their heads. And they slowly stepped their way out to the free-throw line, but never outside the 3-point arc.
Despite what the NBA analytic junkies suggest, there is still strong value in honing the lost art of the mid-range jumper.
“Here’s the thing, some of these guys can’t be out at the 3-point line because they don’t have the form,” Catalini explained. “They have to work on their form. Once you have the good form you can move out beyond the arc.”
In a two-ball, three-man shooting drill where the shooter puts up five mid-range jumpers from five spots inside the arc, Catalini had the high expectation of everyone shooting making 20-of-25 attempts. In his opinion, if you can’t hit shots a high rate playing against the air, you shouldn’t get the green light to shoot them in game situations.
A raider of the lost art, Catalini is constantly in search of perfection through the fundamentals.
“Everyone wants to play fast. We like to play fast, but you have to have the skills to play fast. You need more skills to play fast than to play slow,” he said. “You have to have a handle. You have to play with your head up.”
In an era where the off-season is dominated with AAU tournaments and summer leagues, these players seek out Catalini in hopes of taking their game to another level. Logan Grosek, a recent Dennis-Yarmouth High School graduate, has plans of playing college ball at the Community College of Rhode Island next season. Already a gifted post player who can dunk, Grosek has been hard at work with Catalini over the last two months in an effort to improve his handles and guard work.
“That’s where I’d like to work on my game to go to the next level. All the ball-handling and shooting drills will really help me take my game to another level,” Grosek said. “It’s a lot of fundamental-based [drills] and working on the little things sometimes people overlook.”
Rossignol is in a similar situation, where he has aspirations in walking on to the Nichols College team this upcoming season.
“I want to work on my left hand and fine-tune my shot a little,” he said.
So it should come as no surprise that collegiate players like Joey Downes, a Sandwich alum who plays for Rutgers University, and Florida Gulf Coast University walk-on hopeful Jacob Siegel gravitate towards Catalini’s clinics. And why members of the Sandwich High School basketball program, like Chris Cronin, Will Harmon and JP Downes, are mainstays.
“Get better: that’s the point of all this,” Catalini said. “I believe in the transfer. If you’re able to be dedicated here, you’ll be able to do that in college or at a job or in your relationships.”