It would be a fallacy to state that Stan Bonewitz, the basketball player, did not have talent. You don't get to be the high school Player of the Year in the state of Texas and lead your team to an undefeated season and state championship without a good deal of athletic ability. Likewise, you don't emerge as one of the best shooting and passing guards in Texas Tech basketball history without possessing some physical skills.
Nevertheless, nobody ever confused Bonewitz with Magic, Jordan or Doctor J. He was a slender six-foot-three player with no vertical leap to speak of, and shall we say "limited" foot-speed. Bonewitz did not have Kevin Johnson quicks or Mitch Richmond muscle. His success stemmed from other assets.
Specifically, Bonewitz was a prototypical gym rat (i.e. a tireless worker) who had been coached his entire life by his father, the storied high school coach Stan Bonewitz, Sr. Likewise, Bonewitz was a cerebral player who knew basketball inside and out, and saw the game develop two steps ahead of the opposition. In other words, Bonewitz possessed the intangibles that make for a very good player, and potentially a brilliant coach.
And indeed, the former Texas Tech great is now making a name for himself in the coaching ranks. Bonewitz was named head coach of Concordia College, located in Austin, prior to the 2004-5 season. He steadily built the program into a winner, leading Concordia to its best season in school history and the second round of the Division III postseason tourney this past season. Concordia basketball's future certainly looks bright with the young Bonewitz helming its program.
Suffice it to say, Concordia has Bonewitz the Elder to thank for much of its basketball team's success. Stan, Jr. learned well from his father, and now applies much of the father's teachings to good effect.
"His philosophy was to play fast and to let players be players," says the younger Bonewitz.
"He didn't want a player to be a robot but instead wanted him to know how to play all positions on the floor. We try and do the same thing here at Concordia with our guys. Another thing that he was great about was making sure that the wins and losses never became personal. As a coach I don't really think that you can ever let your players believe that what they are doing right or wrong is for your benefit, but instead for the benefit of themselves and their teammates. This is a difficult thing but he was the best at it and I try to do the same."
Bonewitz is a thirty-something, which might lead one to believe that he is the proverbial "players' coach," the sort of coach who seeks to motivate his players by being their buddy. That, however, is not how Bonewitz describes himself.
"[I am a] disciplinarian from the standpoint of approach to what we do as a team. I really enjoy building relationships with the players and enjoy seeing them grow while they are here with us, but there is a certain amount of discipline we expect in our program and they understand that."
All of which leads to another counterintuitive aspect of Bonewitz. For while he describes himself as a disciplinarian, Bonewitz does not direct his team with an iron fist, dictating that it operate rigidly and methodically. Quite the contrary.
"We are a pressing full court team," Bonewitz declares.
"We will press for 40 minutes for the full 94 feet of the court. We really want our defense to lead to our offense. This season in conference play we have averaged around 97 points a game while forcing about 28 TOs a game. Offensively we try to play really up tempo; our goal is to get up 100 shots a game. I believe in trying to teach guys how to play the game and then let them get in the game and show this."
With the emphasis on attacking every square inch of the court, and hoisting up the maximum number of shots, Bonewitz's philosophy is the basketball equivalent to Mike Leach's views on offensive football.
Of course, quantity of shots taken is entirely inefficacious if the team does not have players who can make those shots. And if anybody knows how to make shots it is Stan Bonewitz, who was given the moniker "Bombawitz" by George Washington coach Mike Jarvis after the Red Raider guard put on a phenomenal artillery display against his team. Bonewitz was a stone shootist, and he has definite views on developing the skill in his own players.
"I think being a good shooter comes or is developed in a myriad of ways," says Bonewitz.
"I think most importantly as a player you have to get purposeful reps shooting the ball. You have to get a lot of reps year round, but they must be correct or you're wasting your time. As a coach I really try to work with guys on their feet and making sure that they are confident with that part of their shot. I don't do a lot with the upper body part of the shooting. I also try to not emphasize making or missing a shot. If a guy will play hard on defense for us, we will give them freedom to take good open shots."
Bonewitz clearly has many interesting things to say about the game of basketball, but more to the point, his approaches and methods have proved successful. He may very well carve out a name for himself in the future.