Randallstown coach Kevin English knows exactly what it takes to win a state title, having won one as a player at Milford Mill in 1992. He continually reinforces to his players that it starts with hard work.
This season, the No. 14 Rams are putting in the time and it's shows. They are 14-3 going into Wednesday night's game against Pikesville and have won six straight -- scoring 100 or more points in three of their past five games.
On Thursday, Randallstown will take on No. 8 Poly in the opening night of the 17th annual Basketball Academy and will then face No. 6 City on Saturday.
English, also a science teacher at Randallstown, is 77-36 in his five seasons. After playing ball at Bowie State, he started his coaching career at Franklin in 2004 -- spending his first two years as a varsity asistant and then two more as head coach of the junior varsity team.
How valuable of an experience is the Basketball Academy for the players?
The Basketball Academy is always good because the kids want to play the best and they usually try to match us up against the better competition. The kids are always eager to play against the best, always eager to prove themselves, so the Basketball Academy is one thing they really look forward to playing in. The one year we didn't get in -- I think it was my second year coaching here -- all the kids were very disappointed and they worked hard to try to get back on the map to get invited again. It's really a big part of our season and the players always love going down there and playing.
What do you see from the Baltimore City teams that is different from other teams on your schedule?
I think playing that type of competition helps us because normally in order to win at states, you have to go through the city. They have their own style of basketball -- it's a faster pace and physical. ... In order for us to get a state championship, we have to go through the city. So it's good for us to have those five or six tough city games on our schdule so that when we see them again come playoff time, there's no shock value -- we already know what we're getting into.
What's the best coaching advice you've received?
It's to always be one play ahead of the game and kind of almost anticipate what's going to happen next. You've got to know the foul situations, anticipate when the other coach may call a timeout or if you can see when a turnover may be coming -- things like that. You want to be a step ahead because usually the players are in the moment. If the other coach calls a timeout and you anticipate he's going to change his defense, then you plan to change your offense to stay a step ahead.
What do you tell your players about your experience of winning a state championship during your playing days at Milford Mill?
I just tell them it's about work -- you get out of it what you put in. So if you don't put the effort in, you're not going to get it out. I think that's one thing I continually try to tell them, it's about your work ethic and try to teach them as a life lesson as well. In life, you're going to get out of life what you put into it. So if you don't put anything into it, you're not going to get anythng out of it. Whatever you're getting today is because of the effort you put in yesterday. That's the one message I continually try to send to them -- it's about work.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun