East Detroit girls basketball team welcomes new head coach

By: Sue Teggart | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published January 12, 2011

 New East Detroit High girls basketball coach Jerrell Cockrell talks things over with his team during a Jan. 4 game against Lake Shore.

New East Detroit High girls basketball coach Jerrell Cockrell talks things over with his team during a Jan. 4 game against Lake Shore.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

EASTPOINTE — These days, Jerrell Cockrell is doing a lot more talking than he has in the past four years.

As the new head coach of the Eastpointe East Detroit girls basketball team, Cockrell is learning that the girls have a lot more to say than the boys.

“They like to talk a lot,” said Cockrell, who previously served as the freshman boys basketball coach and later as the assistant JV coach. “We sit down and have a lot of conversations. The girls are more interested in learning about the game.”

With the girls, Cockrell has been able to stretch his coaching muscles by demonstrating drills and teaching methods.

For Cockrell, having his own program is a dream come true.

“I would tell myself I wanted my own program by the time I’m 26,” said Cockrell, 24, who graduated from East Detroit in 2004 and played basketball there. “I knew I wanted to be a coach when I was in high school. But it really hasn’t set in that this is my team.

“I had a great mentor in the boys varsity coach (Dave Zauner). He’s had a lot of success in the past couple years, and I’m just excited to put the things he’s taught me into my program.”

So far, his biggest adjustment is coaching female players after spending the last four years coaching boys.

“Most of them knew me, but it was a little harder jumping into (coaching) the girls because they didn’t know what to expect about my coaching style,” Cockrell said. “I always try to tell them that they’re teaching me as we go. They’re helping me coach, and I’m willing to listen.”

Though Cockrell was eager to develop and start a new system, he instead has started the season focused on fundamentals.

“I’m teaching them the basics — man-to-man coverage, screening, rebounding,” Cockrell said about developing an inexperienced squad. He hopes once the Shamrocks master the basics, he can move forward with his plans for a new defense and a motion offense, which Cockrell learned while playing at East Detroit.

“I love preaching defense,” Cockrell said. “I would love to play man-to-man defense, but right now, we are building toward that. When we play defense, we do a pretty good job, but we do have improvements to make.”

With a new system, the Shamrocks have a challenging year ahead. Cockrell wants to make sure the team is having fun while learning and still improving.

“Right now, for them to be a family, be a team and just have fun is the most important,” Cockrell said. “We’re working together, and we’re helping each other. We’ll see the progression as the season goes along.”