Monday, January 18, 2016

County Center Experience Enables Rohle To Make Basketball A Lifestyle Years Later

The fabled County Center floor can make or damage a promising young high school  player's career.

An unparalleled proving ground for Section I players and beyond, the White Plains County Center is the birthplace of marquee and memorable and epic basketball battles.

Tales of upsets, wowing performances, sudden flameouts and monstrous game-winning three-quarter court shots (see Edney, Kahlil and New Rochelle/Mount Vernon for more information) are passed from generation to generation like batons.

The arena is known for its tight rims and unique depth perception. The ear drum shattering crescendo these decked out crowds produce adds entertainment value.

Because of these factors, the County Center is capable of hurling an All-American or a lights out shooter into an arctic 4-for-17 dud or a nightmarish 1-for-9 from 3-point land clunker.

There are balconies behind both rims, in amphitheater format. 

It's a monumental stage, a tough environment in which to play, an even tougher place to lose. 

Yet, no single event in one's scholastic career compares to the pure euphoria of winning in such a historic venue.

Yorktown product Chris Rohle, now a J.V. coach and varsity assistant under Bob Delle Bovi at Hastings, remembers his County Center experience all so vividly.

Ask most, and Rohle's story is pretty atypical.

He's one of few guys who could eventually tell his grandkids that his team actually led perennially tough Mount Vernon at one point. 

In an emotion-filled thriller between Rohle's Yorktown team and Mount Vernon, the Huskers seemed primed for  a startling upset. 

Rohle, a deceptively athletic forward known for his adeptness around the basket, was a key supplemental scoring piece under Steve Veteri.

Rohle's Huskers, spearheaded by a versatile 6-foot-8 forward in Keith Thomas, eventually buckled and crumbled under Mount Vernon's 15-2 fourth quarter surge. 

This run was triggered by the Knights' Sherrod Wright, a high-scoring guard who would prolong his career at George Mason. 

Jabarie Hinds, a blur-quick guard who played at West Virginia and currently UMass, was also on the floor.

Yorktown ultimately lost, 54-47, but Rohle still feels the adrenaline and crazy competitive juices that coursed through his veins that late February day. 

It was championship week, before a jam-packed and partisan crowd.

 In the grand scheme of it all, the County Center experience left Rohle with an itch in dire need of being scratched. 

While he knew those were his last 32 minutes of high school basketball, the memory has helped shape him as a coach and molder of young talent on the court.

With Havoc Hoops, a basketball-centric company the 24-year-old Rohle has launched, basketball will continue to play a significant role in his life.

"We play a tough schedule, in an effort to expose players to high-level competition," said Rohle, a 2013 SUNY Cortland graduate who teaches both health and physical education at Hastings.

"My goal is to promote excellence in the sport of basketball while instilling passion, fundamentals, and sportsmanship throughout.

Learning under the high-octane Chris Ward, a no-nonsense tactician who has built Chris Ward Basketball into a full time training and skill development factory, Rohle decided he wanted to make basketball a lifestyle.

Ward's AAU program and record of churning out top-level talent, most recently Manhattan guard Tom Capuano (who starred alongside Matt Ryan and Ty Jerome at Iona Prep) helped persuade Rohle to launch Havoc Hoops.

Applying the basic tenets of high-level Hoops and simultating in-game decisions, reads, and varsity team plays, Havoc Hoops preaches the intricacies of the varsity game to those on the younger grass-roots level. 

Preparation and mindful awareness are integral ingredients of Rohle's calculated system.

Havoc Hoops places staunch emphasis on dedication, ball movement, gritty defense, on-court awareness and IQ and shot selection...

ZS: What's the primary focus of Havoc Hoops and what do you hope to attain and be known for as the company grows and evolves???

CR: The primary focus of Havoc Hoops is to prepare players to be ready to play at a higher level. It is important for players to understand the fundamentals and the dedication it takes to succeed.

 I believe that proper ball movement and hard-nosed defense if the key to success. We play a tough schedule in an effort to expose players to higher-level competition. 

My goal is to promote excellence in the sport of basketball while instilling passion, fundamentals and sportsmanship throughout.

    I want Havoc Hoops to be known as a tight family. I always stress the importance of playing as a team. Each and every player is significant to this organization and we are thrilled to have everyone thatis a part of Havoc Hoops. I want Havoc Hoops to be known for successfully preparing players for a higher level of basketball. I see so much potential for these kids to get better in this area. I want to make sure that they have the proper technique, both offensively and defensively, from the very beginning.

ZS: How did you decide you wanted to make training a livelihood and a profession and which steps led to this?

CR: For as long as I can remember, basketball has always been a great passion of mine. It wasn’t until I coached my first team for the Yorktown Athletic Club (YAC) as a high school senior that I realized how rewarding coaching really is. 

While working with Chris Ward during the Spring 2014 AAU season, I was inspired that he makes a livelihood by coaching basketball. Around that same time, I had some parents approach me to put a team together. I told myself that I was going to do it the right way by creating a LLC (Limited Liability Company). I knew I could use the knowledge I have acquired over the years to help players reach their potential.

ZS: Which aspects and pivotal points of that 09 team and the wild run to the County Center against MV in the championship do you still remember? What was the identity of that team?


CR: I remember that season like it was yesterday. I still think about how lucky I was to be a part of such a great high school basketball team. One pivotal moment that year was when we lost at the buzzer to Mahopac in the championship of the Budries Tournament. It was a crushing loss but we used that game as motivation for the next time we played them in the quarterfinals of sectionals.

That team was special to me because of the chemistry we had. I was fortunate enough to play with the majority of those guys since I was in 7th grade. I have seen many teams point their finger when something goes wrong, however, that was never the case for us. We always played as a team and stayed together through adversity. The identity of that team was that anyone on the floor could go off. It was hard to game plan for a team like that when any player on the court could have 20 points. This has inspired my coaching philosophy to instill the importance of incorporating a balance offensive attack.

ZS: Who were some of the motivational sources for you as far as coaches and important figures who helped prepare you for this role?

CR: I was fortunate enough to have my Dad as my coach during my first few years of childhood. He was my inspiration to not only do something you love but also give it your all while doing it.

 As I entered middle school and joined my first school team, I was reassured that this was the sport for me. My first coach on my 7th grade Yorktown Travel Team was Fio Nardone. He was the first coach who really taught me the game of basketball. He has and continues to be an important mentor in my life.

During the 2012-2013 season I had the opportunity to be an assistant varsity basketball coach under Coach Chris Caputi for Yorktown.

This experience helped to further develop my knowledge in basketball.  In spring 2014, I was lucky to have the opportunity to coach with Chris Ward. 

He is one of the best coaches in the area and I was able to learn a lot from him. The past two seasons working under Bob Delle Bovi in Hastings has been another motivational source.

 It is a pleasure to work side by side with him every day during both practice and games. Working with a variety of coaches has given me the opportunity to take bits and pieces from each coaching style while still creating my own.

ZS: What do you envision for the company and what would be ideal as far as a mark that you'd want to enforce???

 CR:  My envision for the company is to expand throughout the area, having a team in each age group for both boys and girls. I would like to have our first annual basketball camp this summer. This will allow players to continue to improve during the off-season.

The ideal mark that I want to enforce is that if you want to get ready for high school basketball, Havoc Hoops is the place for you. I want to make sure that each player grows and develops in the skills necessary to succeed while implementing sportsmanship and teamwork.

ZS: How much of your time is devoted to Hoops being a JV coach and varsity assistant and now branching out to this on the side? Do you still play competitively?

CR: Havoc Hoops is always on my mind! Luckily for me, my experiences coaching JV Basketball and working with varsity assists in developing my skill set as a coach. It allows me to carry over these skills to my Havoc Hoops organization. Yes-I do have a busy schedule, however each experience has and continues to help me grow.

ZS:  Yorktown is a known Lacrosse hotbed but you guys made basketball a mainstay that winter and it helped revitalize the Hoops culture at Yorktown. How did you guys help register a basketball presence at the school and what do you remember about that class?

CR:  I feel winning has a lot to do with creating a basketball presence. Anytime a basketball team is winning people are going to want to watch. We were lucky to be able to play in front of an energetic crowd. We had a huge home court advantage with The Crop in the stands. I will never forget playing in front of them and how exciting it was! I will always remember having the best fans in the section that year.

ZS:  Keith Thomas was on a different level on your memorable squad. We all saw what he's done as far as thriving at WCC as conference player of the year and now playing the game professionally overseas. What do you remember the most about him and which moments stand out?


CR: It has been great to see Keith thrive at WCC and have him go play overseas. He was a real special player. I will always remember how much he loved the game and how he was constantly trying to improve.

Whether it was getting shots up in the gym or working out in the weight room, he always gave it his all. His court vision is what stood out to me the most. He was not only a great scorer, but also a great passer. I think he assisted on half my points that year. I would wait for him to get the ball and make a cut to the basket. Keith would find me every time.    

ZS:  Learning from previous coaches and incorporating your own style, how would describe your image and principles as a coach?

CR:  I have been watching many coaching styles over the years but at the end of the day you have to coach how you are comfortable.

I want my players to know that I have their back. I teach my players to always play under control and that’s how I try to coach. I am a strong believer in that you play like you practice. If your team is not practicing hard then there is no way your team is going to flip the switch and play hard during the game.

My main principles are the 3 E’s- Effort, Enthusiasm and Execution.

 I expect each player to do his or her part and bring effort everyday. It does not take any skill to bring effort. Both my players and I need to bring enthusiasm.

Each player should bring enthusiasm when they step on the court, whether it is practice or a game. Finally, Execution is the key to basketball. The coach teaches the players how to handle certain situations, but it’s the player’s responsibility to execute the play the right way.