The Start of a New Season: Boy’s Basketball Interview

Abiha Hasan

November 15th was the first game of the 2021-2022 boy’s basketball season. This new season meets new struggles with the transition from COVID 19, however it also meets an eager determination to have a successful season. 

I interviewed two varsity basketball players, Hidayat Jilani (12th grade) and Jedidiah Obor (JD — 12th grade) and the head varsity coach, Gary Anderson, about their personal connections to basketball learning experiences and motivations.


Do you think that the transition from COVID-19 online learning will affect your season this year? 

Coach Anderson: “No, we still have very high expectations for this season and for our players. A great advantage is that nine out of ten of our top players are seniors this year, so they won’t be met with the same challenges (e.g. balancing academic struggles, etc) they had when they were younger.” 

Hidayat: “No, because our entire team has improved as individual players. We started practice in April and then would practice once a week during the summer. During online school, we would meet once a week on ZOOM.” 

JD: “I agree with Hidayat on how our entire team has worked on improving themselves. We all have high expectations for ourselves and I think we can have a great season!”


What do you think you could improve on from the previous years?

Coach Anderson: “We’ve struggled a lot with closing out games, so we definitely want to improve on that. Also, I think that in general, team chemistry should always be something you’re constantly working on as it is an essential constituent of a successful team.” 

Hidayat: “I definitely agree with Coach Anderson.”

JD: “Yeah, I think that closing out games has been a big struggle.”


What is one of the biggest challenges you have been met with?

Coach Anderson: “Since HMSA is such an academically centered school, getting enough hours in for practice has definitely been a big challenge for me as coach.” 

Hidayat: “Balancing our academics has been challenging. After a tiring practice, you still have to motivate yourself to do your homework and school work so you don’t fall behind.” 

JD: “It’s definitely difficult to be able to practice and improve ourselves as basketball players but then also have to improve ourselves as students. “


What is the best and worst game you’ve played, and what have you learned from it?

Coach Anderson: “The best game was after losing to CAMS at home: our team went to UCLA and beat them at their home. Our worst game was our last game in the playoffs—our team lacked experience and couldn’t close out.” 

Hidayat: “Although we lost this game, my personal best game was at Vistamar. I scored 36 points. The worst game for me was also in the playoffs. We were winning at halftime, and then two minutes into the third quarter, we lost.”

 JD: “My best game was Wallwood. We didn’t have a lot of experience and good players at this game — I was coming out of an injury — but I had to step up and I scored 23 points at this game. The worst game was against Middle Roads — we missed a lot of layups and free throws.” 


What do you think is one of the best ways to win a game and set your track records?

Coach Anderson: “When the players follow the game plan and execute it.”

Hidayat: “Playing strong defense because when you play defense, the offense comes naturally.” 

JD: “Playing aggressively and showing the other team that you’re not tired. The other team is already tired, and when you intimidate them, they eventually give up.”


How do you plan to have a good season?

Coach Anderson: “We have high expectations for ourselves and will do everything to achieve them. “

Hidayat: “We all have goals for ourselves, and like Coach Anderson said, we’re gonna work towards it.” 

JD:We’re gonna play aggressively and we’re gonna learn from our past mistakes.” 


What do you think you will struggle with the most?

Coach Anderson: “Since we haven’t been able to play, I can’t really see where the team is exactly. But everybody is relatively having the same struggle, which is an advantage.”

Hidayat: “Yeah, and not being able to play also disrupts team chemistry on the court.” 

JD: “I agree with them both.”


What do you think is essential to unite and make a team?

Coach Anderson: “The players like and get along with each other to build team chemistry. As coach, I find that I can be a part of building team chemistry by getting to know each player on a personal level. I know my players’ families — like Hidayat and JD’s. I also talk to them about everything — whether its academic goals or athletics. “

Hidayat: “As players, we help each other get through adversities like grades or injuries. We’ve also bonded with each other a lot.”

JD: “Yeah, we have — whether it’s similar music tastes or going out together on the weekends, we’ve all become good friends.” 


What do you like the best about the basketball team at HMSA?

Coach Anderson: “The boys can answer this question!”

Hidayat: “I like that everyone’s constantly improving on themselves.”

JD: “I like that people underestimate us. When teams look at HMSA — a school that has such academic responsibilities, they don’t look at our teams and players. I’ve learned that perception is a lot, and it gives me high motivation when I see that people don’t respect me as a player because of the school I’m playing for.”


After interviewing the team members, I also asked personal questions.

First I asked Coach Anderson: 

What’s your background on coaching? 

“I’ve been coaching for the past 20 plus years at Luizenger, St Burners, and Redondo Union.”


Why did you decide to coach, and why did you choose to coach basketball specifically?

“I’ve been playing basketball since I was 5-6 years old, so it was a natural progression plus a natural fit since I’ve been in the district for over 20 years.”


Then I asked Hidayat and JD:

Why did you decide to play basketball?

Hidayat: “I’ve been playing basketball since I was five years old and I loved it! I love seeing myself get better every single day!”

JD: “First day of 7th grade, Coach Anderson forced me to try to play basketball and kept saying that I was gonna play basketball! I was actually into soccer, but when I listened to Coach and tried it, I really liked it!”


Do you have any background or personal connection to the sport? 

Hidayat: “My dad would bike to courts in Pakistan so he could play. His parents weren’t able to see him play though, so he makes it a priority to come see my games when he can. He actually taught me how to shoot!”

JD: “My mom played basketball!”


Do you think playing basketball taught you anything specifically, and how does the lessons relate to your personal life?

Hidayat: “It teaches you to get to know people’s habits and get to know what they like and are good at.”

JD: “It taught me how to control emotions like anger, and it eventually became a lifestyle.”


The boys basketball team is working hard for their season, and I have high expectations for them — they convinced me they can achieve it! Good luck to the boys and Coach Anderson!


Go enjoy a game while showing the Aviators support!