Shifts & constants
Apr 8, 2022
Witzig’s four years playing point guard for Morton High School, “got [him] interested in basketball, [in] high school basketball,” Witzig said.
“They had a great team that was undefeated… until the end,” Witzig said.
In high school, Witzig said he was “the little guy,” but was the only player on the team who could dribble with both hands.
Since his seasons with the Potters, the game of basketball has undergone monumental changes. In his junior year of high school the three-point shot was introduced to the game.
While players shot threes in the ‘90s when he began coaching, Witzig said, “one of the big differences” in recent years in how he coaches “defend[ing] the three-point shooters” and offensively, “how to get some open three-point shots.”
The recent emphasis on the three, Witzig thinks, is “a great equalizer.”
In general, players, Witzig said, are maturing in both ability and physicality at an earlier age.
The “athleticism of … record” backs Witzig up — this season Tyler Dwinal broke the Iron’s decade-old charge record, but it is another stat that slams the point home.
In Witzig’s 22 prior seasons as head coach, the most dunks an Ironmen roster ever recorded was 12.
“This year,” Witzig said, “we have 87 dunks. Guys are able to jump [higher]; they’re stronger, they’re lifting weights year-round. That strength factor…is a big difference [from] when I started coaching.”
Of course, over the course of a career that spans 28 years, one comes to expect change.
Witzig’s emphasis on building relationships, though, is one thing that has remained static during that time.
Witzig estimates he has coached 130-140 players in his career — some who went on to play Division I, to play professionally overseas, some who returned tp join his coaching staff or just to help run summer clinics…
And while some former players stepped away from basketball entirely after high school, Witzig still tries to remain in contact.
“I still try to text my former players,” Witzig said. “I check in with them to see how they’re doing.”
While relationships are a constant for the coach, something consistently important throughout his career, one thing has changed. How he tracks them.
“I have a chart in Google Docs,” Witzig said, “where I kind of keep track of when I talked to them [last].”
Routine and tradition, too, are constants for the Ironmen coach.
Some are small superstitions — like players sitting in the same spot on the bench each practice and in games.
“Sometimes things don’t work out your way,” Witzig said, but these traditions might “help us with the basketball gods,” Witzig said.