ISHPEMING - Ryan Reichel says he has a very understanding wife.
In his third season as the Westwood High School boys varsity basketball coach, Reichel not only holds practices and leads his team in 20 scheduled regular season games, but he also takes in 15-20 other contests scouting future opponents.
"My wife (Lindsey) is the most supportive person," Reichel, 29, said. "Without her, I wouldn't be able to do this.
Westwood boys basketball coach Ryan Reichel video tapes and scouts the Gwinn vs. Munising boys basketball game on Friday,?Jan. 24 at Gwinn High School. When Reichel’s Patriots are not playing, the WHS coach scouts future opponents, taking in an additional 15-20 games a year. (Journal photo by Amy Treloar)
"She'd rather have me at home more, but she understands (scouting) comes with the job."
With a small camera mounted on a tripod, the 2003 WHS and 2008 Northern Michigan University graduate will film a game to gain information he and his players use for informational purposes.
"Whenever we don't have a game and there's a local team playing, I make sure I'm at that game," Reichel said.
After the contest, he'll break down the film that night or early the next day on tendencies the other team(s) may show, especially offensively.
It may take him up to 1 hours to compile the information. Reichel then prepares an information sheet for his players to study prior to meeting that opponent.
"They'll also look at the film and we'll then do a walk-through at practice, using our second unit to help out there," he said.
Not only does he use scouting to help him prepare for an opponent, but Reichel might pick up something from another coach that will help him guide the Patriots.
"I've taken plays from other coaches and their philosophies," he said. "It really helps."
He started filming games as a freshman at WHS.
"(Former WHS head coach Irv) Dieterle and (former Patriot assistant coach Dan) Waterman took me on a scouting trip to L'Anse," Reichel recalled. "I ran the camera and I got to know what to look for.
"I was so scared and intimidated with those guys in my ear. I made sure I had some quality film for them
"(Scouting) gave me a new appreciation of the amount of work they put in," he added.
Reichel said he can't estimate the number of hours he spends scouting during a season. He's also not sure how much - if any - of the work has resulted in WHS wins. He's 11-38 at WHS to date.
"It did help us beat L'Anse," he said. "and after scouting Norway, we used a zone defense against them and won. We hadn't run a zone all season and it caught them off guard.
"We are trying to change a program here. We're teaching basketball and the kids are learning a lot. Each year, a kid knows what's expected and that will translate into more wins down the road."
A number of area coaches film games as a scouting tool. Brandon Sager is among them.
Now in his second year at the Negaunee High School girls basketball helm, Sager and his daughter, Jenna, or an NHS statistician will personally scout games primarily in Marquette County.
"I like to watch a game live. I don't hold the camera," Sager said. "I look at things to key on, like another team's strengths and weaknesses.
"I break the film down and share the information with my players. We try to have a film session before we play the team I've scouted."
"I give them a paper report on what to look for in other players and how to take advantage of that in certain situations," he added.
Sager said it takes him an hour to break a game film down and another 45 minutes spent with his team digesting the information gained.
Sager said filming a game wasn't common when he graduated from Ishpeming High School in 1990. But he learned how useful it can be while playing basketball at NMU from 1990-96 (including a redshirt season).
"It's pretty significant," he said. "Film never lies. It enables the girls to see things other than what I tell them. It really helps them see a certain situation they may become involved in.
"It helps them prepare mentally and physically."
Sager opened the eyes of his freshman point guard, Aleda Johnson, earlier this season with scouting information he presented.
"When we had our first film session and I gave out scouting reports, she asked 'you do this for every game?'" he said.