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March 18, 2018

2/19/2018 4:03:00 AM
Nobbe teams' success came from pressuring opponents

By Chuck Grimes
For HSJ Online

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is part four of a series by sportswriter Chuck Grimes on the career of Bob Nobbe. Chuck warns that because of the author's basketball background in both coaching and writing, there are a few side-notes embedded in this story, that will be, hopefully, obvious only to the most careful of readers.

Bob Nobbe came to Hauser High School with a "game night" basketball philosophy that wavered very little during his 20-year tenure directing the Jets. His record speaks for itself. The W's far outweighed the L's. Because of Nobbe's consistency, Hauser's opponents always knew what they would be facing on Friday night. More often than not, it didn't matter.

Nobbe reached the pinnacle of Indiana High School basketball in 2006 when he and his Jets brought back to Hope on a Saturday in March, the best of Hoosier hysteria -- a state championship.

On that day, Nobbe became one of 118 coaches to earn a gold ring. Hauser became one of 94 high schools with the thrill of getting to house the big trophy. But there were 19 other years during which the Greensburg native roamed the sideline in northeastern Bartholomew County. Seasons after which there was no state championship to celebrate.

Sure, there were some lean years when Ws were tough to attain. But over time, the good easily outweighed the bad. During Nobbe's tenure, the Jets came out on the long end of the final score 275 times. A winning percentage of 70 percent places Nobbe amidst good company in the annals of Indiana coaches.

The Jets' season record was above the .500 mark in 15 of Nobbe's 20 seasons. One obvious reason behind this small school's success was that the coach had a system in which he believed. And the strength of the belief remained obvious over two decades.

Seldom was a Hauser opponent caught off guard by the Jets' game plan. And the formulation of that "game plan" began to take shape when Nobbe was a college student at Ball State University. The high-school quarterback wanted to become a high-school basketball coach.

"I always wanted to coach and wanted to do it in Indiana," said Nobbe. "My roommate and I used to come back and watch Greensburg play. Or we'd watch his old school (Lawrenceburg) play. I loved the game. And I loved the way it was played in Indiana."

As it is with most coaches, Nobbe pointed to hardwood bosses that had significant influence on how he coached the game. Nobbe had three. Number one on his discussion list was Phil Snodgress, his high-school coach.

"I would be home from college and coach would allow me to sit and watch practice," Nobbe said of Snodgress, who amassed 375 wins in his career. "I loved sitting and watching. And then afterwards, coach would always find time to answer my questions. I picked his brain a lot.

"I am sure I picked up a lot from his overall basketball intelligence," Nobbe continued. "I was lucky to have such a great relationship with him."

After student teaching at Batesville High School, Nobbe was hired at Batesville following graduation from Ball State. A social studies teacher, Nobbe did some coaching in football and track. When the eighth grade basketball coaching job became open, Nobbe grabbed it. Before long, he was elevated to the junior-varsity job. In total, Nobbe coached eight years in the program headed by Steve Cochran.

Both Cochran and Nobbe liked to pattern their styles after Rick Pitino, then the headman at the University of Kentucky.

"When he was at Kentucky, Pitino used pressing defenses with traps. And he wanted his teams to push the ball offensively," Nobbe explained.

Such was the manner that both the Batesville varsity and junior-varsity teams played.

"I learned a lot from Coach Cochran," said Nobbe. "We thought a lot alike and he helped me improve as a coach."

And then just prior to and after arrival at Hauser, it was a third coach that left his imprint on Nobbe.

After a head-coaching career that started at North Decatur, Jim Shannon has now amassed close to 540 victories, a total that places him in 8th place for W's by active coaches. The personable Shannon now does his thing at New Albany where he recently won a state championship and currently coaches Romeo Langford, considered by many the top prep player in the nation.

"I've had several opportunities over the years to talk to him," said Nobbe. "We've talked a lot about pressing and changing defenses, but the thing that stuck most clearly in my mind were his comments about coaching in different size schools.

"The thing he emphasized the most was that it really didn't matter the size of the school. What mattered was the importance of making it your program and making it the best you could make it," Nobbe commented. "In his mind, basketball is basketball no matter where one is coaching."

So when Nobbe arrived at Hauser, he brought with him a preference for a fast pace. That meant pressing and running.

When queried about what a short pamphlet entitled "Basketball the Nobbe Way" would have between the covers, the coach didn't hesitate.

"It would include taking the game and breaking it down into parts," he said. "Then it would include how to drill on those parts. Then it would illustrate how to put those parts together before scrimmaging."

But Nobbe was quick to emphasize that the scrimmage part of his approach to practice was a small part.

"We spent most of our practice time working on the fundamental aspects of defensive pressure," he explained. "I always felt that if we kept constant pressure on the other team, they would eventually get tired and start making mistakes. Offensively, we wanted to grab the ball and go. If we kept pushing it and we were in the best shape, the other team would tire. We often were able to grab the lead late."

And the combination of tidbits from Snodgress, Cochran and Shannon were woven into the X'x and O's of Nobbe. And over 20 years, the result created more successes than failures.

"I pulled from each of them," Nobbe said. "I tried to be a good listener."

And from one who saw a lot of Nobbe-coached games in intermittent time periods over 20 years, the only change in the Jets were the bodies inside the uniforms. The style was an instant replay.

Nobbe believed.

Nobbe succeeded.

Next: Why did Nobbe come to Hauser? And why did he remain for 20 years? Those questions will be explored in the next story.

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