In the five years he coached Richard Montgomery High School's junior varsity boys basketball team, David Breslaw handed out his fair share of lessons during one-on-one games with his players.
“He's tough, man,” said Justin Senou, a rising senior who played for Breslaw as a freshman. “He can shoot from anywhere on the court. He's really quick too, and he's sneaky athletic.”
But as the head coach of Bethesda-Chevy Chase's varsity team last year, Breslaw learned a few lessons. Breslaw, who guided B-CC to a 12-11 record, said Montgomery County's other coaches exposed his weaknesses and forced him to re-evaluate elements of his coaching.
Richard Montgomery is hoping Breslaw, a 1998 graduate of the school, learned well — recently hiring him as its new varsity coach.
“You can give good players on JV a lot of leeway that you can't give on varsity,” Breslaw said. “I think that the disparity between the best players on JV and the average player, it's much greater on JV than varsity. There are great players on varsity, for sure, except the average is higher. You can stick a good defender on that player.
“[On JV], there's kids who are dunking, and there's kids who haven't hit puberty yet. You can get a team with all these kids who have bodies of 17-year-olds and throwing alley-oops to each other. I had seasons like that.”
One was with Senou.
Even that season's most tense moment —Breslaw breaking a clipboard during a fiery post-game speech — came after a win.
“We had such a good time on JV that they had this nostalgic look of this is kind of like, I'm coming in and it's going to be nothing but fun now,” Breslaw said. “They had this really unrealistic view of what it was really going to be like.”
Breslaw is more strict when it comes to enforcing on-court assignments, and he's just as demanding about off-court responsibilities. He benched several key players for the first half of a 50-43 summer league loss to Clarksburg on Tuesday at Thomas S. Wootton High School.
If Breslaw is worried about how his players, nearly all of whom he coached on JV, are taking his firmer varsity approach, maybe he needn't be concerned.
“To me, it's the same,” said Senou, who was not among the benched players. “Nothing really changed, except that now he's the varsity coach.”
Senou said he didn't talk much to Breslaw, a history teacher at Richard Montgomery, during basketball season last winter. Although he still liked his former coach, Senou wasn't quite sure how to converse with someone who was coaching an opponent.
But soon after basketball season ended, Senou stopped by Breslaw's classroom every day, trying to convince him to return to Richard Montgomery.
Soon, Senou — who admits Breslaw, got the best of him during one-on-one games three years ago — will try to convince Breslaw of something else: a rematch. Breslaw is recovering from a shoulder injury, so Senou will have to wait a bit, but he hopes not long.
“Now, I think I'm a little better than him,” Senou said. “As soon as he gets better, I'll challenge him."