Last Chance U: Basketball

Day Seventy Four

So the hit docuseries which follows the lives of student athletes and their coaches. This time, the series moves away from junior college football and takes us into the world of junior college basketball.

We find ourselves in LA at ELAC (East Los Angeles College) where the head coach John Mosley has been working for a good amount of years, building a basketball programme that has won many games but has yet to win a state championship.

Immediately, I notice that this feels different from the Football series. The head coach shouts at the players so that isn’t different from the previous seasons but he doesn’t use foul language and he doesn’t appear to be emotionally abusing his players.

Head coach John Mosley

When some of the players complain about not having enough playing time, I immediately feel like they are being selfish and I’m curious to see how the coach is going to handle this. Based on past seasons, I’m expecting him to cut them from the team or mock them or at least kick them out the game (some of the players deserve it) but he ignores the tantrums, he ignores the “why you take me out the game coach?” and focuses on the game at hand.

Ultimately, he knows why they are panicking about being subbed, this is their last chance to impress recruiting coaches that can get them to schools that will give them a fighting chance of making it to the NBA. 

The basketball season is more upbeat and inspirational than the football ones. Maybe it’s the coaches faith that he openly has on display, praying for and with his players or perhaps it’s the genuine care he has for his team rather than merely winning (although he really wants to win – very badly). 

The student athletes in this season are equally dealing with horrific circumstances. The team captain Deshaun Highler has just lost his mother to cancer, having lost his father a few years prior. He’s been forced to grow up much faster because of this and although he is a leader, left to his own devices he can be a tough kid to handle. One of the coaches label him ‘ the most likeable A-hole you’re ever going to meet’. He has a point, Deshaun is a very likeable person and due to his back story you understand why he is so fierce.

I’m so glad that they changed direction from football to basketball and that they found coach John Mosley at ELAC to follow because I started wondering whether coaches had to be verbally and at times even physically aggressive with their players to get them to perform at the highest level. John Mosley proves that you can leave the swearing out and still get results.

What is clear though is a coach needs to be dominant, a coach needs to provide clear direction, vision and consistency. 

Here are some lessons I learned from watching 6 episodes of ‘Last chance U: Basketball’ 

*There are a total of 8 episodes

Lessons Learned from the show

Winning & Losing is a habit: John Mosley spends a lot of time reprimanding his team for not sprinting back, for not running when off the ball and generally not working hard enough in his eyes. The team could be winning, and he will still get on them for slacking because as he says, “I’m trying to fix those bad habits”.

Intensity is a game changer: John is animated and shouts a lot, he is also very athletic and often challenges the boys to take him on in a game of basketball. He is intense at practice and intense in the locker room during half time. He doesn’t want any slackness because as he says this will lead to poor habits that lead to losing.

“Rules without relationships leads to rebellion”: That’s a direct quote from John Mosley. At one point, he comes to recognise that his team are not playing like a team. There’s a lot of backbiting, selfish plays and backtalking to the coaches. Instead of coming down on them like a tonne of bricks, Mosley decides to take them away for a weekend to a remote cabin so they can bond as a team, as young men and as human beings. This is the first time I’ve seen a team on this series truly bond as an entire team. Often, in previous seasons, we see a few people become friends but, in this season,, we see a dysfunctional team begin to respect each other and outright like each other.

The results are massive, the team go on a 26-game winning streak leading them to the state championship play offs and that’s where I’ve left it so far. 

This season feels like I’m watching Coach Carter the film but as a documentary. 

I’m reminded time again just how powerful sports can be in elevating people from mediocrity to greatness and maybe win a championship in the process.

Life is about being intense for the things we want, to compete with ourselves and not others in improving our station in life and to build relationships with others so that you can effectively achieve more together rather than less apart. 



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