Mile High Hoops Coaches Corner: Bob Caton
Head Coach: Highlands Ranch High School (4th year)
Coaching experience: 30 years
Previous Jobs: Aurora Central, George Washington, Manual, West.
Bob Caton’s Highlands Ranch Falcons are currently 12-1 and ranked second in the Denver Post/9News 5A poll. The team has defeated all four Denver Prep League opponents it played, including a resounding 70-49 victory over Denver East—the worst loss of legendary coach Rudy Carey’s career.
Zach Cohn: What is your favorite part about coaching high school hoops?
Bob Caton: Just working with the players. Teaching them how the game is supposed to be played. The game is pure. Basketball is such a great game. So I enjoy showing players how to play the game. And just working with the kids, watching them grow as players, get better as adults, and watching them going on to be positive citizens.
ZC: Talk about the outstanding community involvement of your fan base. How nice is it to see the Highlands Ranch gym packed full of students and family members for home games?
BC: It’s great. The community of Highlands Ranch is just tremendous. We have a great support group with the parents. And with the student body we started a “blue crew” a couple years back. You sign up and get a blue t-shirt to wear, and they come to the game and get a piece of pizza. We try to get as many people involved as we can. I tell the kids to tell their neighbors to come watch us play because it’s a lot cheaper, and you don’t have to pay 20 dollars for parking.
Highlands Ranch coach Bob Caton paces the sidelines
during a recent Falcons victory.
Photo by Pat Miller, patmiller.com
ZC: Your team has been playing together since the 6th grade right? Describe the outstanding cohesiveness of the Falcons this year.
BC: Well they have been together since the 6th grade and even before that. Mr. Olson, Brett Olson’s dad, did a lot of coaching with these kids when they were all young and he did a tremendous job getting them interested in basketball. It really helps a lot when you have a cohesive unit. They care for each other. They all have been friends with each other. It’s a really nice group and they have a strong bond. We are basically a homegrown team.
ZC: Elaborate on the two leading scorers of your team – Brett Olson and Marcus Byrd. How cool is it that they are both going to be playing college ball at DU together?
BC: Yeah, that’s just tremendous. DU was on Brett Olson at a very early stage, they saw him play his sophomore year. They really liked the intelligent part of his game and the way he could see the floor. By them watching Brett play, they started asking, “Who is this other guy?’ Who is this big kid? He keeps getting better and better. And of course that’s Marcus Byrd. When you get a college kid in this program, it attracts more and more coaches, and then it just snowballs from there.
ZC: You played at West, and then have coached at Manual and George Washington. Your last two jobs have been Aurora Central and now Highlands Ranch. What are the differences and similarities of coaching in the suburbs, as opposed to coaching in the inner city?
BC: Well I coached inner city pretty much my whole life. And when I came to Highlands Ranch, people were saying there is going to be such a dramatic change. It’s really not. Kids are kids. And the one common denominator is they want to learn how to play basketball. There are differences in the amount of support you might have, the numbers you have, and the interest you might have. Because a lot of the schools I coached at before, they did not have feeder programs. A lot of the freshmen that came in had never played organized basketball. So that part was a little different. But the main common denominator is kids just wanting to play basketball
ZC: Your teams are always very good at execution I have noticed. Is the execution of your offense and defense what you preach most in practice?
BC: Well we work on it a lot, and that’s what every team strives for. We are always striving for that perfection which you never get, but that’s what you are trying to accomplish. All practice is, is practicing repetitions, be it defense or offense. Players are nothing but creatures of habit, so we will try and instill a habit, work hard, and the team gets that habit, that’s how you get better at execution.
ZC: You play in the always competitive Continental league. Who are some of the dangerous teams that are on your radar? Teams that make you look over your shoulder?
BC: Well I don’t have to look over my shoulder, I can look straight in front of my face, and I see Regis High School, two time defending state champs. They are the team to beat. They are going for a 3-peat and they set the bar. You have Thunderridge and Rock Canyon, those are really good teams. And you got some other strong programs in Chaparral and Mountain Vista. It’s a very competitive league—as strong as any in the state, if not the strongest.
ZC: You are currently ranked in the top five in the state of Colorado and in my eyes a legit state title contender. What would it mean to you to finally garner a state championship?
BC: Well it would be quite an accomplishment, but it’s all about the kids. You see other players around that have won state championships and you talk to them about how great a feeling it was for them. So I would really like to have that for my players. For me individually, sure, every coach would love to win a state championship, but it’s not the end all for me. It’s more about the kids.
ZC: Your son is a member of your assistant coaching staff. Speak to the familial dynamic of coaching with one of your children?
BC: Well he has played for me at GW as well, so it’s a lot of fun. We have quite a family affair. Robby is one of my coaches, and my daughters always show up to the games. They also bring the grandkids to the games. Years ago when I started coaching, I went and spoke with one of my high school coaches, Lou Garramone, a tremendous man. I asked him for advice. And he said try to keep your family involved. Because if your family is involved, you will always be happy, and coaching will always be part of your life.
ZC: If you were not a high school basketball coach, you would be a _______.
BC: Wow, that’s hard. I don’t know. I listen to sports radio a lot, so maybe a truck driver so I could listen to all the sports talk. I don’t know what I would be. This is kind of something that I was always going to do.
ZC: Man to man or zone defense?
BC: Ooh, I go both. Depends on how many good man-to-man defenders you have.
ZC: Tebow or Tulo?
ZC: Aisle seat or window seat?
BC: Always in the aisle, I’m claustrophobic.
ZC: Kobe Bryant of Michael Jordan?
BC: Wow, I would have to go with Michael I guess.
ZC: Orange juice or apple juice?
ZC: Gladiator or Braveheart?
BC: Ummm, Braveheart.
ZC: McDonald’s of Burger King?
BC: McDonald’s, but neither one really. Chick Fil –A (laughs)
ZC: Dunk or three pointer?
BC: Like them both, but if I had to pick one, three-pointer.
ZC: Thanksgiving or Christmas?
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