Keller Citizen

Eaton boys basketball players focused on ‘Kaizen’

A chart in the Eaton locker room notes the team’s use of the Japanese philosophy of Kaizen.
A chart in the Eaton locker room notes the team’s use of the Japanese philosophy of Kaizen. Courtesy photo

The Haslet Eaton varsity boys basketball program is just in its first season, but that hasn’t kept one of its most consistent players from focusing on constant improvement.

Along with junior shooting guard Zach Baucum, the entire Eagles squad is taking to heart the discipline of Kaizen, a Japanese philosophy of always getting better.

At Eaton, that means the team works together and the individual players are as proficient as possible.

Baucum’s goal is to average at least 10 points per game this season and win, as a team, as many games as possible.

Thus far, the going has been tough for the new entry into the varsity level – with no seniors yet.

On the scoring front, Baucum is at about 11.5 PPG.

The junior acknowledged there’s been a slower start than hoped for, but he and his teammates had a sense of what was in store for the Eagles. Last year, as a JV program, Eaton took on some varsity teams.

“We need to keep improving,” Baucum said, “and work on what we’ve been doing.”

As Baucum continues to improve his shot – a staple for a point and shooting guard – he’s been able to benefit from a five-inch growth spurt since last year.

Now at about 6-0, Baucum is adding the ability to get open and improving his movement without the ball.

Eaton works diligently on the offensive side to set screens and offer Baucum the best shot possible.

But many lessons are being learned in the process of continual improvement.

Baucum said the District 6-5A opener against Saginaw Chisholm Trail gave him and his teammates a point to start from.

In the 60-35 loss, Baucum was the Eagles’ leading scorer with nine points.

“Every team in the district is going to be tough, and we have to prepare for each team individually,” Baucum said.

After a tournament trip to Bridgeport, Eaton will be back to the district grind this Friday at Azle.

The holiday break won’t give Baucum much time off from conditioning, which is needed on defense.

Normally taking on the opponents’ best shooters, Baucum said his usual job of playing man-to-man defense and being on the court a lot doesn’t leave much time to catch his breath.

“I usually don’t come out that much, so conditioning is really important to me,” he said.

Being a new varsity player and team can be challenging, but it can also offer the chance to set new traditions.

Baucum said one of the traditions being set is something fans can watch for, as the scorer points back to the passer after a basket.

“We’re a brand-new program and everyone is working together,” he said. “My teammates have helped me grow a lot. During practice they’re giving 100 percent. It’s making me better.”

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