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The Rufus King Story

High School Basketball Team Goes from Disarray to State Championship

Rufus King is an inner city high school in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The boys' basketball team there has a long-standing tradition of having one of top 5 teams in Wisconsin in terms of individual talent. They've sent 19 boys to play Division One college basketball, and numerous others at the Division Two and Three level.

Yet, prior to 2003, the King team had not made it to State since 1998 and had not won State since 1995. The Rufus King team starting in 2002 has had a combined record of 75-7, repeated as State Champions in 2003 and 2004, and finished #17 in the 2003 USA Today Poll, and #22 in the 2004 USA Today Poll.

Please read on and learn how the Rufus King Boys Basketball Team evolved as a team since 2002 and has had great success since then.

Great Talent, But Losing the Big Ones

In my first year with the King team our ending record was 22-4, but we lost every big game except for one! We were the only team to beat the State Champion, Madison La Follette, during the regular season. Our defining moment came when we lost a very close game which would have allowed us to advance to State.

Following that loss, we had 15 young men in the locker room sobbing and refusing to leave! They were in denial. They could not rationalize why we had lost given that we knew we had one of the most—if not the most—talented team in Wisconsin.

Do you want to know the truth?

We lost because of individual ego!

Our guards would not pass to the big men because they knew they would not get the ball back. If one guard shot a three one time down the court, the other guard would throw up a three the next time down the court. We had five guys who could average 20 points a game and one who could average 30. We also had six guys who could dunk and the whole team was incredibly quick! And yet, because of their individual egos, we did not reach our potential either as individual athletes or as a team.

The next year we sat down the first day of practice and we told them the past was destined to repeat itself unless we changed our ways. They did a wonderful job making the changes necessary to succeed.

Let me tell you what we did, because we can do the same thing for your team.

How We Became a Championship Team

I believe all teens want to both fit in and stand out at the same time. By doing team building activities on and off the court we helped each player determine how to contribute his individual talents while also benefiting the team. Working together, we wrote team and individual contracts to hold themselves and each other accountable. Our motto for the year became "Know your Role!"

We evolved a collective team ego that was incredible! No one averaged more than 13.9 points/game! Different players took on the scoring and the defending challenges presented given their particular strengths as coaches asked! Coaches asked players to give input on how to defend certain athletes. We were never out of any game because this team was amazing at stealing inbound passes following made baskets and could score 10 points in less than a minute's time!

The Results were Amazing!

We went 26-0, taking on the best competition in the state! We beat La Follette, the reigning State champion, twice—the second time in the State quarterfinal game. In the State Championship, we also beat Appleton West, a team that featured 6'11" Brian Butch, who was a Mc Donald's High School All-American and is now playing at the University of Wisconsin.

Team-building Works Long-term

The results will last if you stick with the process. This last year, with much less talent, Rufus King won all of its games but three. They ended up ranked #22 in the final USA today Poll! In fact, they went on a 22-4 run in the last four minutes to win back to back State Championships!

After three years of working with Teens2Teams™, King coach Gosz will tell you that team building works, but that it's a process that takes time.

Coach Jim Gosz has explained it this way:

"He did some wonders with our kids. Here's this middle-aged white guy working with inner-city kids, and he made them trust each other.

"Because of Peter's efforts, we worked together as a cohesive team, played to our potential, and achieved our goals. I fully support Mr. Ferrito in his work."

Let's talk about helping your team develop the team chemistry needed to excel. Contact us now to learn how we can create a workshop to meet the particular needs of your team. We'll help your team evolve to the next level!

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