Inside the mind of Randy Larson

BY KYLE MANN | JULY 28, 2014 5:00 AM

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Randy Larson is on his way to a Prime Time League championship berth after upsetting top-seeded Dan Ahrens’ team in the semifinals last week, and his skills as a coach were on full display.

In a league that is — for the most part — very casual, it’s not often the coaching on the sideline that wows the fans. And in a game that featured Jarrod Uthoff, Adam Woodbury, Anthony Clemmons, Matt Bohannon, and several other top players in the league, the on-court talent was about as maximized as it could get.

Ahrens jumped out to a 16-point lead in the first half by attacking the basket with Uthoff, Jeremy Morgan, and Dondre Alexander and mixing in a barrage of tough jumpers. It would have been easy for Larson’s squad to let the game get away, but Larson called a time-out and went to work.

“I told them to push it,” he said. “They only had six guys, and we had eight, and I believe in every single one of them. I wanted them tired.

“No. 2, I told them, ‘Keep doing what you’re doing. Play them tight, and let Adam be your help guy on defense. On offense, keep spreading the ball; don’t worry about matchup, and just hit the open guy.’ ”

Larson challenged his team to finish the first half strong, and not only did his players tie the game at 42, they led at halftime, 50-48. They went on to grab a tightly contested 99-96 victory.

Larson’s anchor, 7-1 Woodbury, had 24 points and 17 rebounds, and he believes Larson’s experience helped bring the team back into the game.

“He’s a real smart basketball coach,” Woodbury said. “He’s been around for a long, long time and has a lot of experience. He knows what to do in certain situations so he’s always got something.”

Larson has been involved with the Prime Time League for 28 years, and is the commissioner of both the Prime Time and Game Time League. He says organizing the summer leagues is something he does because it offers a unique opportunity to a lot of people.

“Seeing guys playing on a team where they know everyone believes in one another, they believe in the pass, you don’t see that much anymore,” Larson said. “I believe playing guys and letting them get confidence, that’s how they become better players. This is my way of spreading the gospel about how that game should be played.”

Even more than just organizing and directing the league, the vocal Larson gets a special kick out of getting the opportunity to coach a team each summer as well.

“Coaching always has been something I’m passionate about,” he said. “If I see something where I can help a player, I want to say it. And the more I’m around, the more I see those things, and I try to tell them all of them. And they’ll do those things with a lot more joy in their hearts if they know it’s being noticed.”

Hawkeye Clemmons has had a unique position on the team, because he had to be incorporated in the lineup mid-season, after Bohannon had established himself as an elite Prime Time performer.

Larson juggled the guards well, and the team has gone on a title run since Clemmons arrived.

“He wants us to play the right way,” Clemmons said. “He doesn’t just want us to play one-on-one and go at each other. He wants us to share the ball and look to go down low. It’s almost like he’s your college coach.”

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