WEST NORRITON >> Dana “Binky” Johnson is a name synonymous with winning when it comes to Norristown basketball.
He played varsity point guard for four years for the Eagles and started three years. He won league championships in 1989 and 1990 and a District 1 title in 1990.
He tallied another win Monday night.
In Johnson’s first home game as head coach, he led Norristown to a 53-41 win over Academy Park to improve their record to 2-1 early on in his first season at the helm.
Johnson, who graduated from Norristown in 1990 before playing college ball at Canisius College, preaches hard work and the five-P philosophy to his players.
“Our core values are play hard, play smart, play together,” he said. “They’re our core court values. We base that upon the five-P philosophy — our philosophy is proper preparation prevents poor performance. What we believe in is the fact that preparation builds confidence. With confidence, the sky is the limit. A lot of times in basketball you’ll see some guys that are off and they stop shooting, lack confidence. What I’m trying to instill in these young men now is that when you put the preparation in — put the time in in practice — it builds confidence … Same thing with the classroom. You prepare for a test, you’re going to be confident. You prepare for basketball, you’re confident. Not only does the five-P philosophy carry over on the court, but in life. That’s what we’re trying to establish.”
“New practice Monday through Saturday,” junior Marcus Sanford said of the changes Johnson brought to the team. “It’s a lot of hard work. A lot of behind-the-scenes stuff — things we didn’t do … Hard work, playing together, being a team and a family.”
The hard work showed on the defensive side of the ball against Academy Park. They forced 18 turnovers — more than half of which came in the first half — and Darius Hopewell had a couple of big-time blocks at the rim.
“Defense has always been a staple of mine,” Johnson, who’s been involved coaching at Norristown as an assistant off and on for the last 20 years, said. “I always took pride in defending. Our foundation is built on defense. One of the philosophies I always say is defense is going to work on nights the offense is not working for you. There will be nights you can’t throw a beach ball in the ocean, but defensively, you have the will and commitment — you can stay in every game.”
“Defense wins championships,” Sanford echoed. “It gets us into our offense. If our offense isn’t working, the defense is there.”
Offensively, Mikeel Allen led the way with 16 points while Vernon Tubbs added 13 and Sanford 11.