Marty Smith and the Warriors Turning Adversity Into Opportunity
If you walked into Marty Smith’s office there are a few reasons you’d think the third year Thompson girls basketball coach was getting ready to head to a playoff matchup. Partially because of the giant grin on his face. And partially because of an array of trophies cascading down one of the office walls.
The reason for the smile might not be apparent to someone on the outside looking in. While the 8th grade and junior varsity teams are winning (with a 17-5 combined record), injuries and sickness have hindered the varsity in the short run, but Coach Smith is choosing to look at the bigger picture: the improvement of the rest of his roster.
“Probably the happiest I’ve ever been as a coach sitting with a .500 record, because I️ see where we’re going. I️ like what we’re doing, I like the attitude,” says Smith. “I️ like the growth mentally, emotionally, physically, every aspect about it. I️ just like where we’re at right now.”
Coach Smith is trying to create basketball players, not participants. The difference comes from a player’s true understanding of the game.
“Our players are beginning to understand the integral part of why we do what we do and they’re trying to recreate it over and over again as they learn the game and attack the game instead of just being a participant.”
The reality is everything the team wants to accomplish is still attainable and in front of them for the taking. Oftentimes, teams at the high school level develop their identity in the first weeks of the season and re-emerge in the new year much more cognizant of their flaws and their strengths.
“Right now, our goals for every game that we go into is: learn and define your role, learn how your actions are helping your teammate become a better player and find a way to win by one,” said Smith. “As a coach you don’t ever want to say you’re satisfied, but it is satisfying to see how my girls are responding.”
The depth is being built up as the roster gets back to full strength. Coach Smith’s projected starting five before the season began has yet to play a single game together. But the veteran coach has been here before in his career.
“I️’ve live it before. That’s what I️ tell the girls. The year after we won back-to-back state championships at John Carroll, that next year everyone said you’re really going to miss Damari and Ronald and I️ said ‘No, not really. I’m going to miss them because their roles were defined and I’ve got a team coming back that’s got to learn their roles,’” said Smith. “At Christmas, that team had lost 12 games and they finished 24-13 and got beat in the regional finals.”
The Warriors’ returning leading scorer Alecia Reasor has been a shining light this season and stepped up her game tremendously going from a 13 point average in 2020 to more than 19 points this season.
“The growth I’ve seen in her as a leader has been outstanding for me. She has grown in her repertoire and she is deferring at the right times to allow the other players growth,” says Smith. “She’s playing the smartest she’s played for me since I’ve been here. Her shooting percentages are the best of her career, her turnovers are down significantly and her assists have doubled.”
Dasia Huynh is another one of the players that’s had to step into unfamiliar roles and increased playing time. A sophomore who can guard multiple positions on the floor, Smith says she’s taking on the challenge.
“She’s having to do everything more,” said Smith. “More rebounding, more scoring, more minutes, but that’s everyone on the team. And everyone has to get 1% better. They’re all looking at each other like we don’t have a choice.”
Turning adversity into opportunity is the task at hand for the Warriors. With hopes of putting a healthy team together in January, Smith and his staff know they can catch fire at the right time.
“I️ tell them all the time: you do what you’re supposed to do and learn how to handle the situations, good things happen and every single one of us will obtain the opportunities to reach the goals that we have.”