Thursday, August 28, 2008

10 Quotes from Coaching Greats

"Don't try to imitate other coaches. Be your own person with your own style and do your own thing." -- Hubie Brown

"I don't recruit players who are nasty to their parents. I look for players who realize the world doesn't revolve around them." -- Pete Carill

"Defense doesn't break down on the help, it breaks down on the recovery." -- Chuck Daly

"I can't stand a ballplayer who plays in fear. Any fellow who has a good shot has got to take it and keep taking it. So he misses - so what?" -- Red Auerbach

"Criticize on defense and encourage on offense." -- John Brady

"Unless you plan to out-rebound and out-shoot everyone you play, then you better learn to handle the ball." -- Hank Iba

"Practice structure determines success." -- Bobby Knight

"It's not what you teach, it's what you emphasize." -- John Wooden

"I've always believed in quickness over strength and size." -- Dean Smith

"If it doesn't bother you, it won't bother them." -- Pat Summitt

Steve Nash Tips

Santa Clara asst. coach Jason Lugwig has a great newsletter that recently published these tips from former NBA MVP Steve Nash.

* A player should always want his coach to be critical--it is an opportunity to learn or opportunity to overcome adversity.

* A point guard sets the table for everybody; he makes other players believe in themselves. If the point guard is not "fun" to be around and if he is not respected, he will have a difficult chance becoming a good point guard.

* Everyday work on all of the shots you will use in a game.

* No one is going to be in better shape than me.

* I don't want to dribble just to dribble...but I don't want to give up my dribble and give my defensive man an advantage.

* Know your teammates and where they want their shots.

* Early in my NBA career, I worked out after a game.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Speaking of Getting Players into College

Sam Houston is leading the pack in getting its girls into school. The Hurricanes are led by coach, Milyse Lampkin, and she is obviously doing something right. Recent Hurricanes going D1 include former pro and UT standout, *Annisa Hastings. Another former Longhorn , Tai Dillard, played for the Hurricanes when they were known as the Cherokees. Dillard also played for the Silver Stars and is currently an asst. coach at UTSA. Eventhough Hastings and Dillard did not play for Lampkin, the tradition continues. More recent Hurricanes matriculating to the big time are:

The next Hurricane to join this list will be 2010 player, Kiante Ageous. Better known as KiKi, she is already being heavily pursued by Big 12 powers. I ranked KiKi as the 8th best player in the city a few weeks ago. I immediately was in contact with three college basketball coaches who all agreed that I had it wrong. They all thought KiKi was one of the top 3 players in the city. She definitely has the upside to be an outstanding player. She will undoubtedly keep the Hurricanes in the forefront in sending players to college.

*(Hastings is following in Coach Lampkin's footsteps by joining the San Antonio coaching ranks. Hastings is trying to turn around the Fox Tech program as the head girls basketball coach.)

San Antonio class of 2008: A sign of things to come?

San Antonio is one of the hottest cities in the nation in terms of population growth. The city is also growing in regards to girls basketball players earning full rides to Division 1 colleges. The following is a list of girls from the 2008 class that went D1.

Wagner Standout Amber Roberson earned a full ride to the University of Texas in Volleyball while turning down Division 1 offers in basketball.

Is this a continuing trend? This list does not include several players that earned basketball rides to Division 2 and NAIA schools. The class of 2009 has already matched 2008 by placing two players in the BIG 12, Monica Engleman(Kansas) and Lyndsey Cloman(Oklahoma). Can the class of 2009 match the overall number of college bound basketball players?

The 2010 class has the potential of putting double digits recruits in the big time. It is no stretch to suggest that the 2010 class will put more than a few players in BCS conferences.

This is all great news for girls basketball in San Antonio. Girls are increasingly taking the game serious and being rewarded for it. Let's hope that this success breeds more success.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Is Becky Hammon a traitor?

The following article concerning San Antonio Silver Stars player Becky Hammon and her decision to play for Russia in the Olympics states,"The affiliation of individual athletes shouldn't be subject to the highest bidder." The author concludes with,"Just the thought is enough to send a chill up my spine. How about yours?

Personally, my spine does not chill over her decision. Here's a few reason why:

Are athletes the personal property of the US during the Olympics?
No they are not and Hammon has the right to play for a foreign country if she chooses. She is being called a traitor and mercenary. A mercenary implies a SOLDIER fighting in a foreign army for payment. Last I checked, the Olympics do not constitute war. As US citizens, we do not own the services of Becky Hammon. A traitor to our nation endangers the lives of its fellow citizens. The only thing Becky is shooting is jump shots.

Should we hold athletes to higher standards than we do other professionals.
Becky Hammon is a professional basketball player. Her primary employer pays her $500,000 a year. She has a guaranteed job in a highly competitive profession for the next 4 years with her employer. At 31, she is considered to be approaching the twilight of her career. Her Russian employer pays her 5 times the amount as her American employer and a $150,00 bonus since she helped guide Russia to an Olympic Bronze Medal. General Electric, who is expected to earn a profit of $150,000,000 in advertising alone during the Olympics, has it's global production center in China. In a recent Harris Poll, 31% of Americans polled believe that China is the biggest threat to global stability. Is GE a traitor? Is GE a mercenary company? Why can Nike, GE, and all the other American companies make money off of the Olympics but Hammon is a traitor and selling her soul for doing the same thing? Here's a thought that should chill some spines, How much money would be pumped into our economy if Nike and GE did not outsource American jobs to China?
What is good for the goose is good for the gander
How did the world catch up to America so fast in basketball? Why are the men called the "Redeem Team" as opposed to the "Dream Team"? The reason is that brilliant American Coaches have been hired to teach and train foreign coaches and players about how to play the game. Our coaches have trained these countries to beat us in the Olympics. Are they traitors? No, they are not considered traitors because they are not actively coaching in the official games but their contributions are more widely felt than Hammons. Nolan Richardson ,an African American coach born and raised in El Paso, Texas, coached the Mexican team in the world games last year. If the Mexicans would have qualified for the Olympics, would Richardson be a traitor too?
The Americans did not want Hammon
In relation to the worlds population during the times of Olympic completion, only a few people have been privileged enough to compete and the US team chose not to pick Hammon. Instead of crying and pouting, Hammon played with a country that wanted her services. The "entitlement" attitude is despised among the elite in America. The story goes," You should have to work hard for success since I did". I agree. And so does Beck Hammon. She worked hard enough to be one of the best player in the WORLD and her American counterparts said " we do not need your services". No problem. Hammon went out and found someone that DID need and appreciate her services. Anne Donovan calls her a traitor for that. That sounds like entitlement to me. American Basketball is not entitled to the services of Becky Hammon, especially since they rejected her to begin with.

Monday, August 18, 2008

TeamXpress ranked by Hoopgurlz

TeamXpress held down the number 14 position in the Hoopgurlz Top 30 rankings. Texas had 3 teams in the Top 10 and 4 teams total. All 4 Texas teams were ranked in the Top 15 teams in the nation. The rankings cut across shoe affiliation lines and had teams from all the major brands represented.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Texas Girls Basketball 100 to watch in Clas of '09

Some local players and players with local connections made the Texas Girls Basketball 100 to watch for the class of 2009. They included:

Monica Engleman- Madison HS/Lady Rohawks- Kansas commit
Lyndsey Cloman- Taft HS/TeamXpress- Oklahoma commit
Bobbi Taylor- Lady Rohawks
Sabreena DeNure-TeamXpress

Great job ladies!

Can she handle the ball like a man?

In a recent conversation with a college coach, I asked what are the first things that he notices in a potential recruit. "Can she handle the ball like a man " was his reply with no hesitation.

Before the comment gets vilified as chauvinistic, take time to think about it. What does Cynthia Cooper, Theresa Witherspoon, Dawn Staley, Sue Bird, Cappie Pondexter and Diana Taurasi have in common? Besides being All-Stars and Olympians, they all can handle the rock. Handling the ball is what makes Candace Parker so special. It allows her to grab a rebound and push the ball up the court and make a play for herself or others.

"The High School coach who does not make his players learn and practice dribbling should be arrested."
This quote had to come from a street ball player. Or some coach who coaches show boating and undisciplined kids right? Try reading "The Smart Take From the Strong" and you will find that the originator of the Princeton offense, Pete Carril said this. Carill continues, " Dribbling has to be DEVELOPED when a player is young...The player who cannot dribble is restricted, no matter how tall, no matter what his(her)role is on the team is, and that includes big men who are often coached as youngsters just to shoot and rebounds." He goes on to say " We also played a lot of one-on one(in practice)where we required the player to dribble with his(her) weak hand. We told him(her) he could not shoot until he(she) dribbled first.

The women's game is considered a purer game by some basketball authorities when compared to the men's game. The women's game supposedly has more player movement, cutting and passing than the men's game. Isn't that what the Princeton offense is about; back door cuts, bounce passes, spacing and screens. Carrill made his bones by slaying the giants of NCAA Basketball with an offense that was considered the ultimate team game but even he put a premium on players who could dribble the ball.

Can South Texas Get any Coaching Clinics?

A quick scan of a popular California Message Board advertises Coaching Clinics from Micheal Cooper, Tara VanDerveer, and Jim Cleamons. A Google search of San Antonio coaching clinics will get you medical care providers. The only Clinic that was recently advertised, TABC , was months ago.

UTSA Men's Basketball coach Brooks Thompson, had a great clinic last year. Thompson's clinic included Kansas Jayhawk Coach ,Bill Self and Spurs GM, RC Buford. Among the informative things Self talked about was the fact that UTSA Athletic Director, Lynn Hickey, is one of the most powerful people in all of Division 1 basketball.

Back on the subject, I was really surprised that only a hand full of the local HS, Youth and Club Club coaches attended the clinic. Coaches from El Paso, Houston ,Dallas and all over Texas came to the clinic but only a few from San Antonio. I am sure that the clinic coincided with previous obligations or the marketing did not reach the local coaches but it would have been nice to see the local coaches support the event.

One local coach who attended and who was very inquisitive was the Madison Boy's coach John Valenzuela. Coach Val had apparently worked at The Kansas Basketball camp for Coach Self and he still asked numerous questions and took constant notes. Coach Val had just came off of a year that resulted in a berth in the State Semifinals and he still was trying to learn more. No wonder he duplicated the feat a year later.


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

"We need coaches who can teach the Game"

The following is from a great Blog from Mike MacKay of Canada

I had a coach send me a comment about how, in general, coaches in the game of volleyball spend more time on skill development at the developmental stages than basketball coaches. I tend to agree with this statement, but I would argue that the nature of the game is the reason why, not that volleyball coaches are better trained than basketball coaches.

In volleyball you cannot dominate a game with strategies and tactics if the players cannot serve, receive, set and hit the ball. No matter what strategy you use these skills must be mastered by more than one player because no one player can do it all in a given rally. If players cannot serve, bump and set you cannot play. In basketball teams often get by with only one or two players dominating the ball. The coach can then create elaborate strategies to make sure these players are the ones executing the skills. Since basketball as a sport is easier to play on your own and gym space is limited many youth coaches assume that players practice their skills on their own. The limited gym time is used for strategies. This is a false assumption. The number one thing that needs to happen in our country to improve player development is individualized development.

This involves players:

• Practicing skills on their own;
• Practicing with a dedicated coach who can teach the fundamentals;
• Practicing or playing in small groups to work on principles of play;
• Individually working on fitness and conditioning.

We have lost this from our Canadian basketball system. The coach should not be the reason why a player cannot play at the next stage of development. Currently this happens when coaches turn players off the sport or do not assist the player in improving his/her skills. A parent would never accept a teacher in school who did not improve the child’s academic ability over the course of the semester. Can you imagine the math teacher saying to a parent; “We don’t let Johnny do multiplication because he hurts the class average”. But we allow a coach to say; “We don’t let Johnny dribble because he hurts the teams chances to win”. This focus on team success over individual development must change if we are ever going to change the level of play in our country.

I believe one of the main reasons for the loss of individual development is the loss of the teacher /coach. This is not people who are employed as teachers, but coaches who understand how to teach and is willing to do individualized workouts. If the coach is not willing or able to do this how can we expect the players to develop this culture of wanting to improve. We need coaches who can teach the game.

Simmons on Hoopgurlz

Apparently the basketball world has discovered what we have known for a long time; Meighan Simmons is the Real Deal! Check the HoopGurlz mention.

UTSA promotes Koty

UTSA recently promoted Koty Cowgill to assistant coach. Coach Cowgill is a great guy and very supportive of the local basketball youth. Hopefully some of the elite players in San Antonio will start to realize that Coach Blair and her staff are top notch and the Roadrunners will be perennial participates in the Big Dance.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Do you want to help build basketball players or do you just want to tell everyone that you won your youth league?"

This a direct question from Orlando Magic coach, Stan Van Gundy during a coaching clinic posted on Youtube.The Blog of former NBA coach Eric Musselman includes the following excerpts of Coach Van Gundy's speech on youth basketball:

"Quick frankly, we're failing pretty badly in this country as a whole in teaching basketball skills. You notice when you watch the NBA because there's a huge difference in just the skill level of the players coming from Europe and what we have here in terms of their ability to pass the ball and shoot the ball.
We can't even produce enough people to do those things here that we've got to go across and try to find people who can do them.
We're not developing skills here.
One of the reasons is we're much more interested in playing games, and winning and losing at a young, young age than we are in skill development.
[Youth coaches] have to make a decision -- if you want to teach the kids that you're coaching how to play basketball or if you just want to win games, because there's a big difference.
Last spring, I coached both my 12-year-old daughter and my 9-year-old son for two months in a YMCA league. I got to see every approach [to coaching].
Of the 18 teams that I saw in that limited time, there were maybe two or three coaches who were really trying to teach skills. Everybody else was just trying to win a game.
[How?] Leave your best players on the court as long as you can. Play zone defense, for God's sake. It was beyond me -- in a 9-year-old league -- to play zone defense for the entire game.
Obviously, don't let your biggest kids dribble the ball. Make sure they always give it to a guard, who is usually your son.
And then you wonder why, at the high school level, we've got so many kids who can't play. We never have a 6-5, 6-6, 6-8 kid who can dribble, pass, and shoot because, at the young age, you tell him to go stand under the basket and get the rebound and give it to somebody else.
[As a youth coach], you have a decision to make. Do you want to help build basketball players or do you just want to tell everyone that you won your youth league?"

Van Gundy is right on point. Who's job is it to develop the young basketball player. Is it the job of the Youth Coach? Or is should it be the Middle School Coaches? What about High School Coaches? Here is a unique idea. How about asking all of these coaches to develop. Sounds good but here are some realities and obstacles in developing young ball players.

Youth Coach- Typically a parent who gets involved because his/her child takes an interest in the game. He/she may hit a library or bookstore to learn the basics but most of the time watching the Spurs is considered enough training. Even if the coach is a good instructor,the typical Y-team is so unskilled that it is very difficult to teach in such limited time. You also have to deal with a lot of parents who use Y-ball as baby sitters. The game should be fun at this level but improving IS FUN.

Middle School Coach- More often than not he/she is a teacher with little actual game experience. I mention this because it is hard to maintain the respect and interest of kids at this age. If Mr/Mrs. History Teacher can not SHOW their players how to execute an effective reverse pivot, why should the kids listen? They should listen because an adult with authority said so? These are the same adults who taught these kids that a heavy set man in a red suit flies across the world on a reindeer and slides down chimneys to deliver presents on Christmas eve. The point is that kids are naturally skeptical at this age and demonstrating goes further than imitating. Given the benefit of the doubt, the typical middle school coach is somewhat knowledgeable about the game and provides quality instruction. Again,one of the problems is the limited time to teach kids that have been taught very little before they are thrust into games. These games allow for parents to put stickers on the back of their SUV's saluting the conference champions.The truth is that the bigger, faster, stronger kids normally dominate at this age and lead their teams to victories. Quality skill-sets are an afterthought. Besides the South Texas practice of everyone making the team, another obstacle to developing quality players is that sixth grade players are not allowed to play. That would be a great idea if the sixth grade basketball players had to attend skill-set sessions the entire year without games.Practice and more Practice. The truly sad thing is that most sixth graders can not even take an entire year of P.E. and we wonder why our children are becoming obese. A survey of college athletes would show that a very high percentage of them became serious about the game during these important years.

High School Coach- I recently had a HS coach tell me " It is not my job to get players into college. My job is to win". WOW!!!!! Interesting but understandable.In other words, college athletes are elite athletes and this coach felt that it was not his job to help develop elite athletes. Oh well if Johnny/Sally can not use their weak hand. Who cares if Joe/Jill still shoot from their chest. As long as they make baskets and the team continues to win. These coaches must win to keep their jobs and stressing sound fundamental basketball does not always translate into wins in the short term. In fact the opposite is usually the case. If Sal/Sally finishes 80% of their shots with the right hand on the left side of the basket, why mess with it?It obviously is working. Never mind that as the competition gets better, that right handed shot on the left side of the basket is going to get thrown into the bleachers.Here is an all to common motto" As long as it gets us wins in district, don't fix it. "
The AAU Coach- More times than not, the AAU coach followed his/her child up from Y-Ball and created a team for them to shine. Their playing experience usually consists of hitting a few jumpers at the local health club and maybe some JV minutes in high school. How can you yell at a player about not "closing out" during the third game of the day if you never "closed out" while playing three games in a day? These coaches are playing an increasing role in the development of our young basketball players. A lot of them just roll the ball out and play. I have seen a local club team play over 100 games in a single year. Is it possible to add new skills and improve individually when playing so many games?In terms of winning, the AAU Coach is doing more good than harm as witnessed by the successful teams in SA. Take any top team in any district and you will find Travel Ball players leading the team more often than not. But, are these Travel Ball players being taught fundamentally sound basket? The answer is an obviously no.

All these above scenarios do not fit every program,team or coach. There are some great coaches(teachers, trainers, strategists) who are doing a remarkable job stressing fundamentals to local players.

That being said, I am not trying to bash coaches who never played the game. The reason for the blog, Stan Van Gundy, never played the game at a high level but he is one of the best teachers in the game. Van Gundy immersed himself in the game and he and his brother, Jeff ,basically stalked the great minds in the game in order to learn the game. There is a HS coach on the boys side in SA that never played the game but he has one of the most successful programs in the city. He encourages his kids to seek trainers, lift weights and live in the gym in the off season. He has sent numerous kids to college on full rides in the last few years.

The point is that if we all do not continue to learn the game and teach it to the youth, we all are to blame.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Top 10 Girls Basketball Players in San Antonio

San Antonio Top 10

These rankings are based on numerous factors including: past performance, continued development and potential. Potential is a loaded word with many implications but some players have more potential than others.This list has players that will undoubtedly sign with Top 25 Women's basketball programs to players that may not play college ball at all. It is safe to say that all of these players should earn an athletic scholarships if academic and athletic progress continues. This list is not separated by class but it is obvious that the Class of 2010 is particularly strong.

1. Meighan Simmons (Steele HS- TeamXpress- Class of 2010) 5'8 Shooting Guard

The ultra quick scoring machine is on pace to score 3000 points in her HS career . The very Deanna Nolan-like reigning Express Player of The Year has another gear that is not often seen in girls basketball. Her jumper is solid and she finishes at the basket like few can. Simmons has drawn major interest from Top 25 schools with numerous offers on the table. When her handle gets a little tighter, she will be able to attend any school she chooses. Should be mentioned in the same breath as fellow Texas stars Odyssey Sims and Chiney Ogwumike as viable All-American candidates.

2. CeCe Harper (Madison HS- Lady Rohawks- Class of 2010) 5'8 Combo Guard

The fearless combo guard from Madison is a gamer. Arguably the most clutch performer in SA. She is content on being a distributor in the first half and scores in bunches when the game is on the line. She has a very strong handle, penetrates at will, and is a very good passer. She finishes with a number of creative shots and uses great foot work to get off her shot against taller opponents.Among many college suitors, the grapevine has her being courted by a very successful Big 12 school. Reminds me of a smaller version of Lisa Willis. Harper is a Top 25 talent and as her jumper becomes more consistent, Top 10 teams will find her hard to ignore.

3. Monica Engleman ( Madison HS- Lady Rohawks- 2009) 5'10 Wing

Hands down the best shooter in SA. The prototypical wing has Shannah Crossley range and is capable of hitting 25 foot bombs that barely move the net. Her solid frame and good leaping ability allows her to play some post in high school and be a strong presence on the boards. The Kansas Jayhawk commit is quick enough to defend guards and strong enough to defend the post. As her handle gets a little stronger, look for the her to make some happy fans in Jayhawk land.

4. Lyndsey Cloman ( Taft HS- TeamXpress- Class of 2009) 6'2 post

This powerful post player from Taft recently committed to the perennial Top 10 team, Oklahoma Sooners.Cloman has developed a strong face-up game to go with her traditional low post game. She hits the 15 footer with regularity and has good foot work. The feisty Cloman has a nasty streak in her that will serve her well in the ultra competitive Big 12. Cloman can be compared to a young Tasha Humphrey. If she continues to get quicker and extend her range, she we be a force in the Big 12.

5. Sune Agbuke ( Conerstone HS-SA Comets- Class of 2011) 6'3 Center

Can you say UPSIDE!!! This kid has all the makings of a high major D1 player. She has remarkable hands and good agility for a girl her size. Upside implies the term "work in progress" and that describes Agbuke.Traditionally, Bigs develop later than their smaller counter parts and she is definitely still developing. Her size and strength make her a major factor on any court she is on.

6. LenNique Brown ( Wagner HS-TeamXpress-Class of 2010) 5'5 Point Guard

The purest point guard in SA. The past first pg is the most slept on kid in the city. Her quiet demeanor belies a fierce competitive nature. Most of her biggest games come against top notch competition. Her yo-yo handle and lightning first step are Ivory Latta-like. She must become a little more selfish on offensive end since she is capable of getting into to the lane at will. She opened a lot of college coaches eyes this summer and must continue to develop her shooting range if she is to attend a BCS school.

7. Jessica Kuster ( Reagan HS- SA Heat- Class of 2010)6'2 postThe athletic post player from

She is another "UPSIDE" kid with tremendous speed and leaping ability. She is a monster on the boards and changes a lot of shots in the paint. With her ability to also defend guards, she is definitely one of the best defensive players in the city. With her athletic ability and body type, Kuster may be more suited as a face-up rebounding wing in the Swin Cash mode. She should have numerous college suitors as her offensive game becomes more refined.

8. Kiante Ageous ( Sam Houston- TeamXpress-Class of 2010)5'10 Wing

Power guard extraordinaire! With her trademark Dwayne Wade jump stop, KiKi is a constant paint dweller. She is a nightmare match up for wings because of her first step and she is too powerful for most guards to check. She attacks the rim with authority and slaps the backboard on many her finishes. Reminds me of a slightly smaller Jasmine Dixon.

9. Felicia Jacobs ( Roosevelt HS- Lady Rohawks-Class of 2009) 5'6 Guard

The female version of "The Glove" is the best on-ball defender in the city. This lock down defender is pound for pound as physically strong as any player out there. She is track star fast and has amazing 'ups'. She constantly out rebounds bigger opponents. Her speed translates well on the court as she stops and changes direction on a dime. Her dribble penetration keeps her in the paint and puts constant pressure on the defense.If Jacobs can improve her shooting range and shooting consistency, she would remind some of slightly smaller Matee Ajavon.

10. Cheyenne Berry( Lytle HS- TeamXpress-Class of 2010)5'8 Combo Guard

Berry is one of the most exciting players in the city. Her passing ability is reminiscent of Samantha Prahalis. She is known for making seemingly impossible passes look easy. Her solid frame allows her to dish out more than she takes. She is a streaky shooter that can get hot and score in bunches. She is a super confident kid that takes a lot of chances which invariably leads to a high number turnovers at times. A stronger jumper would add numerous colleges to her growing list of suitors.

Knocking on the Top 10

These players are banging on the door of the Top 10

Stephanie Whittman (Alamo Heights- TeamXpress)2010

Perfect sized combo guard with tremendous upside.

Liz Boyd (Antonian-Texas Breakers)2009

Very savvy point guard that runs the team well.

Danielle Blagg ( Smithson Valley- TeamXpress)2011

Very athletic young wing with decent range and a bright future

Alexis Williams(Reagan-TeamXpress)2009

Solid guard with good shooting range.

South Texas Expectations

I was recently talking to a parent of a very dedicated young player when he expressed a seemingly popular attitude in the South Texas Girls Basketball scene: "I do not want to travel because I can find good competition right here".

This statement/attitude is ONE of the major reasons that South Texas(San Antonio) basketball is behind other major cities in terms of producing high caliber girls' basketball players. While it is true that San Antonio has some good basketball players and good teams, this "stay local"philosophy is flawed and outdated.

Lets rewind to the the new millennium. The 13u 2000 AAU Division 1 Championships featured over 100 teams from across the country. These teams, coaches and players realized that to be the best, you must play the best. They understood that their local competition was probably sufficient in creating good players but not ELITE players. Among the participants in this event were two players that would meet later on a bigger stage. A young Candace Parker and her Illinois Jaguars lost to the NJB Stars led by Candice Wiggins. Parker would get her revenge eight years later but that game in 2000 helped shaped her life.Parker's father, who coached that Jaguar team, understood that Naperville, IL. was not going to provide the competition that his budding superstar needed to accomplish her goals. Wiggins father, Alan Wiggins, died in 1991. Before he died, the former San Diego Padre player instilled the same passion for competition in his young daughter. Candice Wiggins mother drove from San Diego to Orange County(1 hour distance but 3 hours in California traffic) for basketball PRACTICE with the NJB Stars. Her efforts were rewarded when the Stars won the AAU championship and her daughter caught the eye of Stanford University. These two players lived over 1700 miles apart. Thankfully their parents understood that local competition is no longer the answer to producing elite players.

I am not advocating chasing national trophies. Nowadays, every one and thier mother has a so- called national event(How is it a national event when only 4-5 states are represented and the event has less than 50 teams? More on that later). I am saying that unless you are playing up, you are not consistantly competing at an elite level. Lets look at the boys side.

I attended the Reebok Big Time tournament in Las Vagas in the summer of 2005. I was a kid in a candy store. Here were some of the players on team rosters.

SCA (Southern California All-Stars)- Kevin Love, Renardo Sidney, Brandon Jennings, Daniel Hackett, Taylor King,Malik Story- This SoCal based team had players from Orange County,LA County, Mississippi, Compton, and Oregon. Love's father, former NBA player Stan Love, flew his son to California to practice

D1 Greyhounds- OJ Mayo, Bill Walker

Mean Streets- Derrick Rose, Eric Gordon -Chicago based team but Gordon lived in Indiana

The 2008 NBA draft featured Five freshmen in the top Seven picks. I saw all Five (Love-Rose-Mayo-Michael Beasley-Gordon) of these players in the summer of 2005 in Vegas. The reason that they DOMINATED college basketball in 2007 is because they were accustomed to playing against the very best players in the nation. These players had been playing against each other for years. They were seasoned and ready to make a huge impact in college because of the elite competition that they constantly faced. Local Competition is good but National Competition is great.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Another Brian McCormack Blog

From CrossOver Movement site:

Obviously, Michael Phelps is the biggest story of the 2008 Olympics and his record chase is the only thing I find compelling about swimming, though I marvel at their ability.
Before Phelps set the World Record in the 400IM tonight, NBC had one of their melodramatic specials on Phelps, his mom and his coach Bob Bowman. The story perfectly illustrated the ideas described in Chapter 4 of Cross Over: The New Model of Youth Basketball Development (”The Pschology of Talent Development”) and the research of Benjamin Bloom, K. Anders Ericsson, Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi.
First, Phelps described the effort of his mom. He said she was “everything” and that he could not “describe her in just one word.” According to research across many disciplines, expert (elite) performers often describe the effort and work ethic of their parent(s) and the research suggests that the pursuit of perfection common among top athletes derives from their early impressions of their parents.
Next, Phelps’ mom and coach worried that swimming had to be fun. Bowman said something about the need for Phelps to enjoy it if he wanted to be good. While many believe that a child must be pushhed early, in truth, children need to enjoy the activity before they are ready to make the effort to excel.
Next, Bowman made the recommendation to Phelps’ mom that he could be an Olympic swimmer when he was 11-years-old. He noticed the potential and believed Phelps needed a different type of training - one that would change from fun to more technical training. In Bloom’s book, this is the transition from the Ealry Years to the Middle Years or the Romance Phase to the Precision Phase. Sometimes, this transition involves a change in coaches, as some coaches are great creating a positive, fun atmosphere, but not teaching the technical skills, or vice versa. In Phelps’ case, Bowman handled the transition.
Finally, Bowman created a detailed plan for Phelps to follow. They set goals. Bowman supplied the feedback and Phelps concentrated on the tasks.
In today’s hyper-competitive youth sports environment, we neglect these transitions. We ignore the fun and developmental aspects of sports and concentrate on turning young athletes into professionals through regimnted training. We see Phelps working out or watch Dara Torres working out and believe every athlete must follow this type of training, and the earlier the better. However, we ignore the real story. Young athletes are not professionals. Some develop into elite performers, but the development does not occur overnight. It happens over a period of years through a sensible progression and development plan.

From Brian McCormick's Blog

From CrossOver Movement site:

Knee Injury Prevention August 6th, 2008
I received a link to the following article and finally got around to reading it. The article makes a couple of compelling points about knee injury prevention:
- “What we find is the problem is really coming from a bad hip or ankle,” Sanzio says. “The knee hurts because it has to compensate.”
- You can have great mobility but lack strength and get hurt, he says. Or you can have super strength and lack flexibility and get hurt. “Finding out the right combination of limb control will help you prevent injury and excel at the sport you want to play, as well,” Physical therapist Pete Sanzio of Performance Health Technologies says.
- Women tend to land more straight-legged when stopping, pivoting and jumping in sports such as basketball, volleyball and skiing. The force of the straight-legged landings causes the tibia to shear forward, rupturing the ACL. “Through biomechanical training, we can train athletes how to land…”

Friday, August 8, 2008

LongHorn Leaders

Clarissa Davis-Wrightsil is not the only former UT legend at a top women's basketball program.

LSU has named Kenya Larkin-Landers as an assistant coach. She will join UT men's legend Travis Mays on the LSU staff.

Clarissa Goes Back to School

San Antonio Basketball legend, Clarissa Davis-Wrightsil, has been hired as an Assistant Coach for the Rutgers women's program. Davis-Wrightsil will join fellow Women's Basketball Hall Of Fame member, C. Vivian Stringer. The Scarlet Knights recently had a monster recruiting class that included 4 McDonald All Americans including Texas star Brooklyn Pope , Jasmine Dixon, Nikki Speed and perhaps the best player in 2008, April Sykes.

Davis-Wrightsil was a former assistant coach at her Alma mater, University of Texas. She spent this past year coaching for the select club she founded, TeamXpress. The Adidas sponsored club was one of the best in the nation.
The new South Texas Basketball Blog is now active.
Let's start with verbal commitments:
Monica Engleman(SA Madison-SA Lady Rohawks) committed to the Kansas Jayhawks.
Lindsey Cloman(SA Taft-TeamXpress) is going to play for the Oklahoma Sooners.
These two commits are a very big deal for SA basketball. Both these 2009 standouts will matriculate to the Big 12. They will join fellow San Antonians Christine Flores and Breanna Brock in the Big 12. Brock and Flores will attend Missouri.