Laurie Mulqueeny is a passionate basketball coach from North Carolina. About six years ago, she began coaching alongside Brian Robinson, head coach of the Bishop McGinnis Lady Villains, who are back-to-back-to-back-to-back-back-to-back-to-back-to-back State Champions. That’s right. Eight consecutive state titles.
While the Lady Villains are well known throughout North Carolina, Laurie splits her time coaching with an admittedly less established program - the Triad Trackers, a non-profit wheelchair basketball team in the Carolina Wheelchair Basketball Conference.
We found that Laurie had practiced StatEasy with the wheelchair basketball team, and it sparked our interest. Where did the Triad Trackers come from? Who can join? How does wheelchair basketball differ from high school, or collegiate basketball?
Laurie was kind enough to spend some time with us talking about the Triad Trackers and wheelchair basketball in general.
StatEasy: Can you tell us a little bit about what you do with the Triad Trackers?
Laurie Mulqueeny: The team’s been in existence for about 14 years now and I help them out with their practices because they don’t always have ten guys there. I also tested out StatEasy with them early in the year.
SE: When you practice, do you use a wheelchair?
LM: Yes, we practice in wheelchairs with them.
SE: How was that transition for you?
LM: It was pretty frustrating actually at first because the game is a lot different. Honestly, inches make a huge difference. It is all about positioning because you get caught on the wrong side or you’re just a little late to get to a spot you know, you won’t get to where you need to be.
You have to adjust your thinking and the strategy is a little bit different. If you get out of position a little bit on defense, in traditional basketball you can recover, but here, you get pinned and you can’t do anything about it.
It was pretty frustrating at first, but you adjust. I’m nowhere near as good as the players, but it’s been a good learning experience for sure.
SE: How would you say wheelchair basketball is different from traditional basketball?
LM: As far as rules go, for the most part they follow NCAA Men’s rules. There’s a couple different rules, for instance if you’re on defense, you can’t back up into an offensive player.
Strategy wise, it’s a game of positioning. If you’ve got a couple bigger guys, if you lob the ball up to them, defensively, there’s not much you can do about it because you can’t reach into their space.
Not all of these players are wheelchair bound all of the time, so you can definitely exploit some players’ weaknesses a little bit better. There are different levels as far as impairment goes. Some of the players are paralyzed a little higher up so they don’t have as much trunk control. Then there are different categories – one, two, and three, where level three is the most mobile. With five players on the floor, those levels can only add up to 11. So there’s definitely strategy involved in that regard.
SE: Do people have to try out for a wheelchair basketball team?
LM: Right now just because of the size of the team, we only have 10-12 players and they go from [ages] 15 to 70 something, we don’t currently have tryouts. We’re hoping that we get to the point where that’s a problem that we have but I know some of the other teams we play do have tryouts.
SE: How are the practices laid out?
LM: I would say that it’s pretty much like any other normal practice, it’s only one night a week so theres only so much we can get done, but we work on ball handling stuff, press breaks, different presses, different defenses. It pretty much is like a regular basketball practice. Anything that you would need to work on.
SE: How does dribbling work in wheelchair basketball?
LM: So you have to dribble once for every two pushes. Instead of dribbling normally some will throw the ball out in front of them and chase after it.
SE: How have you used StatEasy for the Triad Trackers and the Lady Villains?
LM: [The Trackers] were the first team I used StatEasy with, trying to get used to the program, then I also do the stats and the video for Bishop McGinnis.
SE: What are some of the biggest benefits of using StatEasy?
LM: Being able to quickly find clips to show them different areas we need to work on. It doesn’t take me forever to do that which is helpful because we all have other jobs we need to get to. It makes things a lot quicker for me as far as being able to find different things to show the players.
This season the Triad Trackers will play a total of eight games throughout North Carolina. We’d like to thank Laurie for her time and wish the Trackers the best of luck!
If you would like more information about them you can visit their Facebook page here.