Harding’s LaRicca still big on hoops


By Greg Gulas

sports@vindy.com

BOARDMAN

Bob LaRicca was one of the area’s most successful high school basketball coaches because he stressed fundamentals and never settled for less than 100 percent from his players, himself or his staff.

It’s been about 15 years since he last roamed the sidelines, compiling a 296-103 record at Warren Western Reserve and Warren Harding.

Speaking to the Curbstone Coaches during Monday’s weekly luncheon meeting at the Blue Wolf Banquet Center, LaRicca said he still remains close to the game that he so loves, only this time as an instructor at the Mayor Ralph Infante Wellness Center in Niles.

He was named Class AAA coach of the year in 1983 and directed WWR to the 1989 state tournament, earning 11 league championships and six district titles. His teams played in three regional finals.

He admits that parts of the game have changed since he coached, but fundamentals and execution have not and that is what he continues to stress to those who take his weekly instruction.

“I teach them the proper way to catch the ball, to then hold it correctly and once they have it then how to shoot it,” he said.

When watching a game and evaluating today’s players, LaRicca marvels at ballhandling skills.

“I am simply amazed at the way the players today handle a ball; it’s a new art within the game,” LaRicca said. “Look at Ohio State and how everyone can handle the ball and they aren’t the only team in the nation like that.

“I am constantly looking online to see what new things players can do when the ball is in their hands,” he said.

LaRicca said the game seems to be going back to a three-man game, something very popular almost three decades ago.

“You used to wait for a rebound but they now have two players sitting outside waiting for a pass,” he said.

Over the years, LaRicca’s teams always understood the importance of a free throw and the impact it has on a game’s outcome.

He has tracked every free throw in the boxscores of this season’s games and shakes his head at the findings.

“I have always called them [free points] because that is exactly what they are; they’re freebies,” LaRicca said.

“I must tell you that after charting the free throws this year, the results are absolutely staggering. There were 14,074 free shots taken and just 8,404 made. That’s just 59.7 percent,” he said.

“I started to see the trend so I wanted to make sure that I pointed out to the young kids their importance and the effect.”

Information can be obtained on LaRicca’s camps by calling 330-307-9345 or e-mailing rlaricca@aol.com.

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