Team Takeover made a lot of noise this EYBL season by going 16-0. With the amount of top notch talent in the Nike EYBL this is quite the feat. While Team Takeover has a lot of talent, there is a lot more that goes into having a season like this. There haven’t been much better program directors in grassroots history than Keith Stevens. People can always expect his teams to be prepared and put the team goals first. Stevens caught up with us and discussed the ins and outs of his program.
Q: You're the EYBL coach of the year. What is this accomplishment like for you?
KS: I’m looked at as the leader so I get the credit, but I don’t do as much as everyone thinks,” Stevens said. “You have now Loyola-Maryland assistant coach Brendon Straughn who has been handling all of the offensive stuff for us before he got hired. We have Ray Brewer who handles all of the defense, Stanley Childs who monitors everyone. We have Dwight Freeman who is a former college head coach who shows how to run a program. I have a great group of guys that makes my job easy. I’m more so the overseer because they are doing the bulk of the work to be honest with you.
Q: You have accomplished something that is extremely difficult to do in going undefeated in the EYBL regular season. What is this like from a coaches standpoint?
KS: From a coaches standpoint it’s not anything I get that excited about because we have done it already,” said Stevens. “This is really our third time doing it since one year was a forfeit, but the previous two times we have done it we didn’t accomplish our ultimate goal and that’s winning it all. For me it’s honestly meaningless because I know there is a longer road ahead.
Q: How would you describe this feat from a players stand point?
KS: I think they should have excitement because it shows they put the work in and the comradery of being able to mesh together,” he said. They have to understand that they haven’t played all forty teams and now we have a bullseye on our back since we went 16-0. It’s also like we are starting a new season because everyone goes into Peach Jam with the same record of 0-0. You have to have a certain mindset and that same consistency we had this season.
I have a great group of guys that makes my job easy.
Q: You have won Peach Jam before so you know what it takes. What are the keys to winning grassroots biggest event?
KS: You have to be able to raise your play and I always tell our guys that you need to be able to get to the next game,” Stevens said. “You can’t live in the past and you have to do everything as if it’s the last second or minute of the game in order to succeed. All of that has to come at the right time in order to win it. It also takes a little luck to make it happen because it’s just a one game scenario. I don’t think there’s a team that can beat us in a five game series, but I know anyone can beat us in one game.
Q: Your teams are always disciplined and put the team first. What are some of your program principles that you guys go by?
KS: You have to want to be coached if you play with us,” he said. “To identify us, a couple words have to come to mind like family, discipline and selflessness. Those are the things that are going to always have. We are going to play for each other and sacrifice for each other. We just have a different bond with these kids playing each other during the high school season. We don’t have kids from all of the country. We have kids from right in our backyard. There’s only one kid that is outside of a 30 mile radius from us. They have a good feel for each other and have been playing together for a long time.