Justin Dargahi, a record-holding three-point shooter, has added a few new challenges for 2016 and beyond.
First: Turn around the struggling Gaither High girls varsity basketball program.
Next: Set the world record for most three pointers made by a pair, in one minute.
Dargahi — the Guinness World Record for the most 3s made from NBA range (23 feet, 9 inches) in one minute (26) — first hopes to bring some cache to the Gaither High’s girls basketball program.
It won’t be easy for the former Land O’ Lakes High girls head JV (junior varsity) coach.
The Cowboys—which went a combined 5-38 the last two seasons—have had six straight losing seasons.
Yet, that doesn’t deter Dargahi, who will be the program’s fourth head coach in six years, once tryouts begin Oct. 24.
“I’m definitely looking forward to the challenge,” he said. “I love proving people wrong.”
He relishes it.
“You have room to improve. If you take over a great team, what are you trying to accomplish?” he said.
“Hopefully, we can increase our win total a lot just this coming year alone.”
It will be tough, he acknowledged, considering Gaither High plays in a highly competitive eight-team district (Class 8A, District 8).
It’s one stacked with perennial prep powerhouses in Wiregrass Ranch, Plant, Freedom and Steinbrenner high schools.
“It’s hard to win and advance anywhere when you have four or five great teams out of eight,” said Dargahi. “Luckily, we have a good three weeks of practice before the first game (Nov. 15).
His blueprint starts with building around junior Janae Lyle, the team’s top returning player (7.6 points per game, 4.9 rebounds per game, 1.9 steals per game).
“It is a lot of specifying toward your players’ talents,” said Dargahi, a former basketball player at Cambridge Christian School. “I refuse to go into the first game not having specified positions.”
It also includes implementing a pressure man-to-man defense to help close out one-possession games.
“I love pressing,” he said. “I love getting steals, turnovers. That’s how you score points,” he said.
“I think the best (coaching) aspect is game management,” he added.
When not on the sidelines, meanwhile, Dargahi will be spending ample time at the three-point line. The new Gaither coach is teaming up with Teddy Dupay — a former Florida Gators basketball standout (1998-2001) and current boys basketball coach at Cambridge Christian School — to break the Guinness World Record for most three-pointers made by a pair in one minute.
The current record is 19, set by Harlem Globetrotters’ Cheese Chisholm and Ant Atkinson. The previous record (15) was set by NBA all-stars Kevin Durant (Golden State Warriors) and Dirk Nowitzki (Dallas Mavericks).
Though Dargahi hasn’t set an official attempt date, he figures it will “definitely be before Thanksgiving (Nov. 24).”
Dargahi, who claims he makes anywhere from 75 percent to 80 percent of attempted 3-pointers, said the feat largely boils down to each participant making 10 shots. It’s possible, he said, considering both his and Dupay’s shooting prowess. (Dupay ranks 10th all-time in Florida Gators history for career 3-point field goals made with 188.)
“We’re both very confident with our shooting,” Dargahi said. “The good thing about this record — both shooters have to be awesome. You can’t have one guy carry it.”
But the difficulty, he said, lies in get enough shots up in 60 seconds.
“I don’t even know how many shots we can get up, to be honest. I’m guessing 25 to 30, at the most,” said Dargahi.
The strategy, he added, will include court positioning — the wings or the top-of-the-key — and conserving energy across multiple attempts.
“I think we’ll at least try it for an hour, or an hour-and-a half,” Dargahi said.
Perhaps one aspect working in the duo’s favor: home court advantage.
“I’ve shot more balls at Cambridge than any other gym,” he said. “There’s a little bit of a comfort zone.”
Additionally, Dargahi has been approved by Guinness to attempt world records for most individual free throws in one minute (51) and most individual three-pointers in two minutes (44).
“The free throw one is tough,” Dargahi said. “I just tried it once just to see, and I didn’t even get up 51 shots. I definitely have to speed it up to shoot. If I could get up just 55 (shots), I like my chances.”
Published Oct. 19, 2016