Blogs / Features
courtesy of MaxPreps.comMaxPreps.com
Highland girls basketball coach Miner Webster approaching 700 winsDec 21, 2012 Chances are somewhere around Arizona there are a few young basketball coaches monitoring everything Miner Webster does.
And they should be — especially if they want to emulate what Webster has done to become one the state's legendary coaches on the hardwood.
As the Highland (Gilbert, Ariz.) girls basketball coach approaches 700 career wins in the girls game, Webster reflected on what he was like back in 1981 when he took over the Parker boys basketball team.
"I think I know more now — at least I hope so," he said with a laugh. "You think you know a lot (when starting out) but you don't. Over the years, you learn to study the game and watch successful coaches and what works for them. You try to accumulate as much knowledge as you can."
It's worked out pretty well to say the least.
As Highland (12-1) prepares to head to the Las Vegas Holiday Classic, Webster has 692-105 record while coaching at Gilbert and Highland since the 1983-84 season. Before that he had a three-year stint at Parker, where he estimates he had 50 to 60 more wins to put him somewhere around 740 to 750 all-time win area.
It would put him fourth all-time in Arizona behind Gary Ernst (782), Don Petranovich (778) and Dick McConnell (774). When it comes to victories in the girls game, only Petranovich has more in Arizona. He won state titles with Gilbert in 1991 and 1992 and then added six more at Highland in 1994, 1995, 2003, 2005, 2008 and 2009.
"It's really mind-boggling," he said. "I can't really get a grasp on it. As a basketball coach, I look at games in blocks of 30 (a season's worth) and then you stop and start worrying about the next 30. If you hang around enough you compile a lot of wins."
Webster is not merely "hanging on." He still sets the standard.
When Mountain Pointe beat Highland in the finals of the Hawks' own Thanksgiving tournament, Pride coach Trevor Neider considered it a coaching milestone.
"When I got hired all I heard about was how Highland is the measuring stick and Miner Webster is the best coach," Neider said after the tournament. "For us to beat them, means we are doing something right."
Webster said one of the techniques that has made him successful, besides being blessed with talented and hard-working players, is doing a good job of mixing the new with the old stuff that has worked.
"If a player of mine from 20 years ago walked into a practice today they'd see a lot the same drills and out of bounds plays," he said. "Things haven't changed a lot. You do delete and add some things, but mostly you stick with what works."
He learned that as a young coach going to clinic after clinic (especially Lute Olson's in Tucson) while borrowing what he could from rival coaches like former colleagues Greg Sessions (Mesa Mountain View) and Mike Matwick (Marcos de Niza).
That said, Webster took the Gilbert job back in 1983 with idea of one day returning to the boys game where he got his start.
"I thought I was going to coach girls a short period," he said. "It was supposed to be a stop gap and before I knew it the years were rolling by. And 25 years later here I am still doing it."
Jason P. Skoda, a former Arizona Republic and current Ahwatukee Foothills News staff writer, is an 18-year sports writing veteran. Contact him at email@example.com or 480-272-2449.