Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXI, No. 28
 
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
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(Photo by Bill Allen/NJ SportAction)

COACH ON THE FLOOR: Ica Morales heads up the court for the Hun School girls' basketball team during her senior season in the winter of 2004-05. Morales, who is entering her junior year at Bucknell University, has served as the student manager for the school's women's basketball team. With an eye to getting into coaching, Morales is back this week for her second stint as a counselor at the University of Virginia women's basketball camp.

Taking Hoops Passion in a New Direction, Hun Alum Morales Has Eye on Coaching

Bill Alden

When Ica Morales headed to Bucknell University in the fall of 2005, she figured basketball was in her past.

The diminutive 5'1 Morales, a four-year player for the Hun School girls' basketball team, planned to focus on golf at college.

As a state Prep girls' champion in golf during her days at Hun, she seemed to have a brighter future on the links than on the court.

But unable to resist the pull of hoops, Morales joined the Bucknell women's basketball program as a student manager during her freshman year.

With an eye to getting into coaching, Morales is back this week for her second stint as a counselor at the University of Virginia women's basketball camp.

For Morales, the experience of serving as a student manager has given her a deeper understanding of the game."I've learned different sides of the game," said Morales, who is entering her junior year this fall. "I do a lot of work with the stats and I help out with the scouting."

Morales, though, acknowledged that she needed more than her additional hoops knowledge when she first faced her team of 6-8 grade players last summer at the Virginia camp.

"I was a total novice; it was nerve-wracking in the beginning," said Morales, who was able to get a job at the camp by utilizing a contact gained from a Bucknell assistant coach.

"When I was running drills with 10 to 15 girls, I was a little nervous. Once they understand you are a coach and a leader, that builds your confidence."

The coaching rookie proved to be a quick study as she guided her team to the camp title in its age group."I like using a Princeton style," said Morales, who has picked up a lot from being around the college coaches that work at the Virginia camp.

"I like to have the players running the floor, setting screens and getting their spacing right. It's a good age, the girls are old enough to understand concepts but they aren't arrogant."

Morales also utilized some of the court savvy she gained as a wily point guard for Hun."I can understand the relationships between point guards and the big girls," asserted Morales.

"When the big girls are working hard, they need to get the ball. The guards are looking to create passing lanes and distribute and the big girls need to cut hard."

In getting her players to come together as a team, Morales also focused on building chemistry off the court. "I had the girls eat at least one meal a day together at their own table and sit next to different girls each time," explained Morales, who noted that the camp day begins with roll call at 6 a.m. and ends with games after dinner.

"I was the only coach to do this; I wanted to make sure that the girls really got to know each other like family but also so no cliques would form. When drills require partners, I would make it a point to have the girls work with someone new. At the end of the camp, there was a noticeable difference not only in team chemistry but in friendships off the wood."

In the final analysis, Morales wants each of her players to get the most out of themselves as they contribute to the team

"I'm a big fan of John Wooden, he says that every player has a role, big or small," added Morales.

"Everyone can make a contribution in some way. When a person can learn how to be an integral part to a whole, that's when a coach has succeeded. Intelligence, teamwork and passion, that should be the mantra."

And Morales has demonstrated her undying passion for the game of basketball in her time at Bucknell.

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