An inside look at Mike Bibby's unique Shadow Mountain basketball practices

Patrick Breen, Arizona Republic

An inside look at Mike Bibby's unique Shadow Mountain basketball practices

Boys Basketball

An inside look at Mike Bibby's unique Shadow Mountain basketball practices


There is one short break. No 5-on-5 scrimmaging. Intense footwork, cutting off lanes, details to defense.

If people believe Phoenix Shadow Mountain built its basketball dynasty only because its most famous hoops alumnus is a magnet for out-of-state talent, they’re wrong.

Mike Bibby, who helped the University of Arizona to its only NCAA championship as an unflappable freshman point guard in the 1996-97 season and spent 14 years playing in the NBA, is laser focused for two hours.

“The reality is we never scrimmage,” said assistant coach Michael Warren, a former head coach at Tolleson High School and Glendale Community College. “We do timing and situation stuff. The rest of the stuff is individual work.

“He works at skill building. It is skill building ad nauseam. He works it. It’s every day. It’s not rolling the ball out. It’s not scrimmaging. It’s skill building. It’s basic basketball. It’s over and over and over again.”

Don’t try to interrupt Bibby for an interview, not in the middle of practice, even during a break. Bibby meets with assistants at a table, goes over the next part of practice, what they’re looking to accomplish, as players drink water.

The Matadors once again are loaded and ready to make their way to New York as the best team in Arizona. They’re getting ready to start their sixth season under Bibby, who is looking for his fourth consecutive state championship and fifth in six seasons.

They probably would be taking aim at their sixth consecutive state championship had point guard Michael Bibby — Mike’s son — not missed the tournament his junior year because of a knee injury in 2015. The state semifinal loss to Gilbert Christian was the last time Shadow Mountain lost to an Arizona team.

They’ve won 71 consecutive games against Arizona teams since then.

Senior guards Jaelen House and Jovan Blacksher Jr., who have picked up their leadership roles even more, have never lost to an Arizona team since they became starters as sophomores. Both were raised on Bibby basketball, starting out in his AAU program that disbanded after Mike’s son graduated from high school in 2016.

This is not a program feeding off of his club program. In the spring and summer, the Matadors go their separate ways, latching onto club teams, while Mike still plays, as a guard for the Ghost Ballers in the BIG3.

This year, Shadow Mountain lost Antonio Reese, who moved back to Chicago. But it is probably the deepest team Bibby has had with three out-of-state move-ins, including 6-foot-10, 250-pound center Malik Lamin from Minnesota.


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