I started attending basketball camps the summer between 7th and 8th grade. The first camp I went to was in the Pocono Mountains and at the camp I met Calvin Murphy, and Paul Silas, who gave lectures on shooting and on rebounding respectively. I started attending Lehigh Valley Basketball Camp the summer after my eighth grade. Many boys playing on our junior high and high school teams were steered to that camp because the coaching staff at the camp had one time coached in Union County, NJ and had a strong reputation for teaching fundamentals and attracting strong players from throughout NY, NJ, PA and even DC area. In fact, one of the camp co-directors was Bob Fulton and he was my brother's high school coach prior to moving to coach in Pennsylvania for many years so my brother pushed for me to attend that camp as well. I attended this camp every summer throughout high school and then joined the camp as an instructor after graduating. For two of the summers as a camper my coach was Jack Bruen, and as a camp instructor I worked alongside Mark Slonaker, currently the head coach at Mercer University. Slonaker was a star player at Rahway a few years ahead of me and was then playing at the University of Georgia. Jack Bruen was a wonderful man and I was very sad to hear of his death a few years back when he was coaching at Colgate. The way the camp was organized at the time was that you listened to camp director Zywacki give a short morning talk and then you went off to drills in stations and then you worked with a team that was formed the first day of camp. If my memory serves me right, we did fundamentals, then played a game, then usually listened to a guest lecture from a coach, or college or professional ballplayer, then played another game, special technique drills (say defensive concept and technique), and then another game. The evenings were capped off watching the counselors play at game at 9:00 or 10:00pm at night. Zywacki ran a tight ship and there wasn't much fooling around, but for a basketball junkie it was heaven.
One of the highlights of the Lehigh Valley camp for me was the visits each year from Coach Herb Magee. He was (is) a wonderful shooting instructor and he taught me how to shoot a basketball. I would take his tips and practice them for hours on end. I developed into a very good shooter and in fact won many shooting awards over the next few years at the camp and elsewhere. When I worked as a camp instructor, in fact, the station I was given was the fundamentals of shooting. Too bad I couldn't consistently get open for that shot because of slow feet.
I am still fascinated by the fundamentals of shooting. I love to watch wonderful dunks like any other fan, and the athleticism of today's players is a thing of beauty, but the art of shooting a basketball has fallen off. When I was a kid my brother and father used to talk to me about Bill Sharman of the great Boston Celtics teams of the 1950s (before I was born). Sharman shot .883 from the foul line during his career and averaged 18.1 points per game. Along with Bob Cousy, they formed the Hall of Fame backcourt of the Celtics. My father taught me to follow Sharman's technique of shooting and I remember reading Sharman's book, The Art of Shooting, when I was in 6th or 7th grade. In 8th grade my Dad took me to Madison Square Garden where I saw Ernie DiGrgorio of the then Bullalo Braves scorched the Knicks with his shooting. During the 1973-74 season Ernie D led the NBA is foul shooting with 90.2% and won Rookie of the Year honors. Other great shooters I have admired include Mark Price, 90.4% free throw shooter throughout his 12 seasons in the NBA, Steve Alford of Indiana University and then with Dallas in the NBA, and now the coach of Iowa, Chris Mullen of St. John's and then with Golden State Warriors and Indiana Pacers, and currently JJ Redick of Duke.
Bill Sharman with the Celtics
Ernie DiGregorio in 1975
perhaps the best poor shotter at the collegiate level I have seen since
Chris Mullen and Steve Alford. Note the picture perfect form!!!
players learning how to shoot, I highly recommend the
videos of Coach Magee and Coach Steve Alford. Alford's videos
are particular good at explaining to young players the art of moving
without the ball to set up your shot. Alford and Redik are the best
at moving without the ball in the college game I have ever seen and
I think it is a thing of pure beauty.