It's been another breakout year for the Mannford boys basketball team. The Pirates are ranked fifth in 4A, and will host Tecumseh next week in its regional opener.
After a late season surge carried them to the state semifinals last year, the Pirates have been close to perfect so far this season, holding a 20-1 record with the playoffs just a few days away.
Mike Banfield is in his fourth season as the man in charge of the program, preaching a simple and successful method. “The one thing I want out of my guys is discipline. I want them to be able to execute our stuff offensively and defensively. That's where we're going to hang our hat most nights,” said Banfield.
While Mike coaches the boys, his father Bob Banfield coaches the girls team. After more than four decades in the profession, the opportunity to coach at the same school as his son opened up three years ago. “It's given me the chance to spend time with him, a lot more time with the grandkids, and it's been a great experience,” Bob stated.
The Banfield coaching roots are pretty deep. Bob played for Eddie Sutton at Central High School in the 60's, and spent a year on Sutton's staff at Creighton, soaking in Sutton's attention to detail and the importance of defense. Now, he's a proud father who holds his son in high regard. “He does a great job. He does a terrific job. I learn more from him than he does from me, I promise you,” said Bob.
Bob is always there to help his son when needed, but he's not intrusive. “He's not one that's going to try and tell me I need to be doing this, or I need to be doing that. If I ask, he gives good advice, but he's not been that overwhelming parent,” explained Mike.
Mike's deep determination has spilled over to his players. “Anything short of a gold ball is a failure in my eyes. A lot of our seniors have been together since fifth grade, and we've been talking about this year for a while,” said Pirates player Randy Daugherty.
There's one more part to this story; Bob was my coach in the mid 80's at OBU. “John, I will say this. You were an outstanding offensive player, and I really thought that you had a great shot. Defensively now, it was not quite as good,” Bob elaborated.
Defense wins championships, as the family that coaches together would say.