Boys basketball

Morgan's Braden gets the most out of his basketball talents

2014-01-30T19:30:00Z 2014-01-31T01:58:05Z Morgan's Braden gets the most out of his basketball talentsJim Peters james.peters@nwi.com, (219) 548-4363 nwitimes.com
January 30, 2014 7:30 pm  • 

Think of the term coach's kid, and there's an image of a gym rat, a player well versed in the basics of basketball with a keen grasp of the game.

Morgan Township's Chase Braden fits the bill on all counts.

"I've never been the fastest or jumped the highest, but I'm in the gym 24-7, on snow days, weekends, working to make it up with hard work and smart play," Braden said. "I know the game. I can outsmart opponents."

Eric Braden, Chase's dad and the Cherokees' second-year coach, always thought that his son would get to 6-foot-5. Instead, it looks like he'll top out at 6-1.

"And that's stretching it," Eric said. "He's not the most athletic. He won't wow you with his spectacular jumping or speed, but he definitely gets the job done. He's fundamentally sound. He works extremely hard, and I'm proud of him for that fact."

Outside of some summer games, last season marked the first time father coached son. Eric was junior varsity coach when Chase was brought up to varsity and started for Matt Bush as a freshman.

"It made it easier that when I came in, his position was established," Eric said. "I chew him out harder than anybody else. There are times I think I probably shouldn't have, but he understands. What happens in the gym usually stays in the gym. As he gets older, it's fun to talk game situations. He understands the game well. He's been around it a lot. The more it goes and I see it coming to an end, I'm trying to lay back and enjoy it more, and I think he is, too."

When he was in third grade, Chase started tagging along with Eric, a Washington Township product who was then coaching middle school.

"I like it," Braden said of being coached by his dad. "I was always in the gym. It's kind of natural. It's not like people think it would be. If anything, he's hardest on me. He expects the most of me. At times, we want to kill each other, but we always come through it."

Being around older kids served him Braden well in ninth grade, when Bush handed him point guard duties. He has gradually shifted to two guard, his preferred position, as talent has developed around him, though he is able to manage about every spot save for the post, depending on what's needed.

"I've been playing varsity my entire high school career. It seems like forever," Braden said. "I try to bring that experience, to help the younger players. I need to be a bigger leader, take charge, help the team be the best it can be."

Before this season, that meant primarily scoring. Now with the emergence of sophomore Jake Koselke, Braden doesn't have to carry as much of a scoring load. He's tripled his assists over a year ago at this stage and is shooting at a better clip while taking fewer shots.

"He's bought into the role," Eric said. "I've been telling all the boys, no one has to monopolize the shots. He's far surpassed anything I did, which, as a father, is what you hope for."

Braden is second on the team in scoring at 14.7 points per game, while leading Morgan (7-5) in rebounds, assists and steals.

"I feel this year, especially with Jake, our games complement each other," he said. "There are times I have an open shot, but I pass it to him for an even better shot. It takes a lot of pressure off me. I'm definitely excited about this group. We're young, and we've got a couple younger guys coming up. I think we're headed in the perfect direction."

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