Friday, October 24, 2008

UTSA update!

After attending a recent UTSA workout, the following is very apparent:

  • Jordan Stark can shoot the lights out. Stark's has NBA range.
  • Whitney York is a blur. York changes directions on a dime and has a shifty handle.
  • Monica Gibbs is incredible!! Gibbs is a freakish athlete. Her leadership is amazing.

Coach Eric Musselman's blog recently featured an article regarding "The Secret of Great Groups" by Warren Bennis. I could not help but think of a few of his thoughts on leadership within Great Groups as I watched Gibbs. Bennis writes these characteristics of leaders of Great Groups:

1. Provide direction and meaning. They remind people of what's important and why their work makes a difference.

( I constantly witnessed Gibbs practice with a purpose. She was recently named to the Preseason All Conference Team while her team is favored to win their division but her intensity is remarkable. She goes hard and expects the same from her teammates. She leaves no question about her intentions. She wants to win and win bad. She cheered with exuberance as her team continuously won timed scrimmages. )

2. Generate and sustain trust. The group's trust in itself -- and its leadership -- allows members to accept dissent and ride through the turbulence of the group process.

( Gibbs teammates can not help but to trust that Gibbs will be Gibbs. Consistency builds trust and Gibbs constantly went for the jugular in scrimmages and drills. Her teammates knew that she expected them to compete with the same passion that she does. Gibbs can create her own shot at any given time but she always finds the open teammate. She constantly broke down the defense and penetrated into the paint only to kick it out to a wide open teammate for a jump shot. As the ball was in the air, she would say something like " OHHH YEEAAH that's good", even before her teammate received the pass. This confidence that she has in her teammates is infectious.)

3. Display a bias toward action, risk taking, and curiosity. A sense of urgency -- and a willingness to risk failure to achieve results -- is at the heart of every Great Group.

(Gibbs is the best player on one of the best teams in the conference yet she finishes first in every drill that takes effort. She sprints the court as if possessed. She jumps center against a teammate that is 4 to 5 inches taller and wins the tip. She repeatedly followed up her own missed jumpers to get offensive rebounds. She is all about decisive action. She throws risky passes off of the dribble and sacrifices her body by attacking larger defenders. Most importantly, she does not hold on to her mistakes too long. She has that "It's OK, I'll make up for it" attitude that all great players must have.)

4. Are purveyors of hope. Effective team leaders find both tangible and symbolic ways to demonstrate that the group can overcome the odds.

(This is an area in which Gibbs really stands out. She is very vocal and encouraging with her teammates. She plays with a mischievous smile as she verbally jabs the competition but showers her teammates with praise. She high fives and throws her hands up with every important bucket by a teammate.She motivates!!! She watches the game clock in scrimmages to keep a running score and time limits in mind. Gibbs makes you believe her team is always going to come out on top and her teammates feed off of that confidence)

I happened to have a couple encounters with Gibbs over the summer.

The first one was when my 11 year daughter was practicing with an older club. Gibbs came to work with the high school age girls. The girls were doing a transition drill that allowed them to attack a set defense on the other end of the court. The defense was instructed to pick up the offense at half court. Gibbs was having none of that. She pressured my Middle School daughter with intensity. She disrupted the entire transition break drill with her full court pressure. She could have cared less that this kid was 11 years old. All that mattered was that this kid was on the court and she had better be ready to play. SHE MADE MY DAUGHTER BETTER BY DEMANDING HER TO STEP UP. Gibbs ripped her a few times while yelling " OH YEAH, THAT'S MINE". This left a considerable impression on me and my daughter. You can not help but to get better when playing with or against Gibbs.

The other encounter with Gibbs happened at the UTSA team camp. A couple of my girls mustered up enough courage to challenge Gibbs and Whitney York to a game.Of course, Gibbs and York did not go full throttle. They allowed my Middle School girls to have some success but also put them in their place. The amazing thing was how approachable and enthusiastic Gibbs was. She laughed, taunted and toyed with them. The girls ate it up. I was sweating at the thought of one of my girls accidentally injuring the UTSA starting back-court so I interrupted the game and said it was over. Gibbs told me in so many words to "Don't be a chicken, let the girls get the beating they asked for". My girls loved it. They loved that this college star wanted to continue to play with them. They loved that she continuously talked to them. Most of all, they loved that Gibbs had just told their coach to get lost and let the girls play.

Gibbs is the type of player that you see and hear play. She is a joy to watch.

College happenings

Kaela Lipo is reportedly gaining college attention from coast to coast. The Incarnate Word post player is considering visiting UCSB and Notre Dame soon. She will visit both schools in an unofficial capacity and is said to be looking forward to taking her 5 official visits next year. Lipo is reportedly getting Ivy league attention as well. Lipo had an opportunity to showcase her skills outside the post this summer with TeamXpress. She shoots the 15 footer with consistency and proved to be very effective on the boards. Her Incarnate Word High School team should be a force on the local seen this upcoming season. The Shamrocks have no less than 3 college bound players on it's roster.

Len'Nique Brown is rumored to be in serious talks with some BCS power schools. Brown interview is coming and may clear up the particulars.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Hoyas doing good things

Theresa Nunn and her South Texas Hoyas are quietly making noise. The Hoyas have been in the back ground while SA's more publicized clubs(TeamXpress-Lady Rohawks-SA Comets) have gained national attention. Coach Nunn, former Churchill standout, has a great organization that is getting kids in school. The Hoyas have teams that that range from 8 to 18 years old. Some recent Hoyas moving on to college include:

Stacey Mammel- Concordia University, Minnesota

Lesleigh Phillips- St. Mary University, San Antonio

Tasha Yancey-Texas A & M International University, Laredo

Rebecca Davis- Texas A & M International University, Laredo

All of these schools are Division 2 schools and can give full scholarships.

All four of these girls have received athletic scholarships and or financial assistance to help pursue their dreams. Coach Nunn actively recorded, edited and sent tapes of her players to these universities. She is apparently a dedicated coach that not only prepares her players on the court, she actively pursues colleges to make them aware of her girls. Her efforts have helped 4 young ladies on their path to an education. Coach Nunn is another example of what is good about Club Ball.

College Choices

Aleisha Flowers is reportedly headed to the University of South Florida on a full basketball scholarship. The Judson star had numerous opportunities thanks to a monster summer with TeamXpress. The 6'0 forward gained national attention with her very improved perimeter skills. Flowers will join a very competitive Big East conference and an eventual match up against TeamXpress founder and former coach, Clarissa Davis-Wrightsil. Davis-Wrightsil coached Flowers this past summer before joining national perennial power, Rutgers. Flowers decision gives San Antonio it's third player committed to a BCS school. The other two are, Lyndsey Cloman and Monica Engleman. Cloman and Engleman will join the Big 12 Conference and suit up for Oklahoma and Kansas next year.

Alexis Williams is reportedly taking an official visit to Cameron University. The Division 2 school located in Oklahoma is a member of the Lone Star Conference. The Reagan standout played this past summer with TeamXpress.

Elizibeth Arnold is reportedly taking an official visit to Lubbock Christian University. The NAIA program plays in the Sooner Athletic Conference. The home schooled guard played with SA Comets this past summer.

Victoria Willems is taking an unofficial visit to William and Mary. The 2010 standout stars at MacArthur and has another two basketball seasons to decide her future. The skilled post plays summer ball with the SA Comets. William and Mary is a member of the Colonial Athletic Conference and is one of the best schools in the nation academically.

Division 1, Division 2 and NAIA schools all can give full athletic scholarships.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

UTSA Women #1

The UTSA women are the preseason favorites to win the West Division of the Southland Conference. Hopefully, the Roadrunners can win the conference and conference tournament to return to the NCAA tournament for the second year in a row. The season starts with and exhibition on November 2.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


San Antonio has a number of girls represented on the ESPN's 2010 Texas Prospects list. The list includes some very high praise for a few girls:

Meighan Simmons- Ranked as the #1 shooting guard in the nation and 3rd best player overall.

Stephanie Wittman- Ranked as the #10 shooting guard in the nation and the 6th best player in the state.

Len'Nique Brown- Ranked as the 24th best point guard in the nation and the 16th best player in the state.

All three girls have received a ranking score by Hoopgurlz as elite prospects. The following is the breakdown for the ESPN scoring system.

Scouts Inc. High School Grading System

90-100: Rare ProspectPlayer demonstrates rare abilities and can create mismatches that have an obvious impact on the game. Has all the skills to take over a game and could be an impact player as a true freshman.
80-89: Outstanding ProspectPlayer has the ability to create mismatches against most opponents and could contribute as a true freshman.
70-79: Good ProspectPlayer does not dominate in every game, especially when matched up against the top players in the country. Could become a good starter at the Division I level.
60-69: Solid ProspectThis player is overmatched against the better players in the nation. His weaknesses will be exposed against top competition. Has the ability to develop into a solid contributor at the Division I level.
50-59: ProspectPlayer has some redeeming qualities but is not projected to contribute at the Division I level.
45: Pending Prospect w/ filmScouts Inc. has received film of the prospect and an evaluation is pending.
40: Pending ProspectPlayer has redeeming qualities and is projected to contribute at the Division I level, however film has not yet been received.

ESPN 150 Watch ListPlayer rated somewhere from 78 to 100 with a chance to make the ESPN 150, the ranking of the top 150 prospects in the country.

Simmons score was a 92, Whittman received an 87 while Brown has a 75. All three guards play for TeamXpress.

One player that is waiting on her ranking is CeCe Harper. Harper has a 45, which means that her tapes are being reviewed for a ranking score. Smart money says that she will at least be a 75 and make the ESPN 150. I would be surprised if San Antonio does not have 5 girls in the ESPN Top 150 when they graduate. Simmons, Whittman, Brown, Harper, and Kiante Ageous will most likely make the list.

More San Antonio players on the prospect list are:

Breanna Alba - SA Comets- Incarnate Word

Cheyenne Berry - TeamXpress- Lytle

Elizabeth Briones - TeamXpress-Antonian

Angeleigh Davis - TeamXpress-Hays

Elaine Houston -TeamXpress-Lake Travis

Jessica Kuster -Heat-Reagan

Kaela Lipo -TeamXpress-Incarnate Word

Olivia Patterson -TeamXpress-Steele

Michelle Rodriguez -Lady Rohawks-Wagner

Victoria Willems -SA Comets-MacArthur

Ariana Torres -SA Comets-East central

Ciara McLee -TeamXpress-Judson

Jaclyn Edwards -TeamXpress-Holy Cross

Girls/Womens Basketball

Two popular national message boards have recently had very spirited discussions about female basketball. The following comments are taken from these boards.

I was at a club basketball tournament this past weekend and I could not believe all the missed layups by some of the top players. One game featured two high school teams who are projected to be in the semi-finals in their divisions, both will be highly rated and have multiple D1 players already committed. Both teams missed a ton of layups. One of the teams could not drop a pea in the ocean while standing on the shore. There is nothing more frustrating for a coach or fan than to see a great defensive play, awesome transition, a great move, a perfect pass to a missed layup.

Another one continues:

Why is girl's/women's basketball so bad. Most can't handle the ball, the passing sucks, a few of them have good shooting form, most don't. Their 1 on 1 moves are poor, and many play zone defense, only select few play real man to man defense. They haven't progressed and aren't even coming close to approaching the quality and skill of the men's game. Why is that?

This one comes from a contributor called San Antonio:

Because the game of basketball is built for athletic boys. Girls struggle with quickness, jumping ability and upper body strength. Any girl with upper body strength will dominate the boards regardless of size. Also girls rarely play basketball outside of an organized setting. Its hard to get better if your not playing all the time. Also there is very little mental toughness in the girls game. They tend to shut down if the situation becomes too intense, harsh or critical. Many, many individual exceptions to these generalizations but for the most part true. All that being said it's still a great game for teaching life lessons, commitment team work, etc.

These comments may seem cruel and out of place on a blog that is dedicated to female basketball but these opinions should be discussed. A few points follow:

Missed Layups- One of the reasons that girls/women's basketball players miss so many layups is that the girls game is played below the rim. Any marginally athletic guy can slap the backboard on his layup attempts. The distance between the bottom of the back board and the rim is six inches. A guy finishing a layup and slapping the backboard will be anywhere from 6 to point blank at the rim. I would say that most layups at the elite boys/men's level are taken only a couple of inches away from the rim. Now compare that to the girls game where most layups are being shot from at least a foot away from the rim. Of course all these examples are generalizing boys and girls players but very few girls are athletic enough to finish at the rim. This increased distance would explain the extra misses by female basketball players. The fact is that the further you are from the rim, the less likely you are to make a basket. It is no wonder that the best shooting players, by percentages, are the biggest men on the court. These big men take shots closer to the basket, thus, shoot better percentages. We all know Shaq's field goal percentage is one of the greatest in NBA history but he struggles from the free throw line. Take Sylvia Fowles for instance; she is one of the WNBA's biggest players but still plays a below the rim game.

Now playing below the rim is no excuse for missing repeated break away and uncontested layups but the fact remains that less athleticism is a contributing factor. Please view some video of the early days of basketball. The black and white video will expose the fact that the early men's players also missed a ton of layups because the game was also played under the rim in those days. Also, visit any local gym and view all of us old athletes trying to revisit our glory days. You will see a ton of missed layups as our minds can still fly but our legs are more grounded in reality.

2.Built for athletic boys- The second comment regarding the game being built for men is a little over the top but the fact remains that the more athletic you are, they more likely you are to succeed in basketball. What is athletic? This is an issue that is often argued by a great basketball blogger/coach/trainer Brain McCormick and he makes some great points. I will not go into what is and what is not athleticism right now. A very good friend of mind and great coach always says " Girls basketball is harder to teach than boys" He continues, " A girl can not catch a bad lob pass and finish it with a dunk" . He is basically alluding the to fact that MOST girls do not have the athletic ability to correct mistakes on the fly. A boy can jump in the air and adjust in mid flight according to what a defender does. We all have seen the Dr J lay up against the Lakers as he starts on one side, palms the ball in one hand, and eventually finishes the layup on the other side. We all remember Micheal Jordan doing a similar lay up against the Lakers in the 91' championship. On explaining how the shot developed, Micheal said, " I saw long armed Sam Perkins going to block the shot and brought it backed down, switched hands and finished with the left. WHAT!! The players in the 50's could not imagine such a shot and we can not expect the same from women, YET.

3. It is true that MOST girls do not play the game outside of organized settings on a constant basis. I grew up with stories like Cheryl Miller playing all day and night and hustling unsuspecting players with younger brother Reggie. I read about the very middle class Nancy Lieberman traveling to the inner cities of New York to play street ball in the ghetto. I moved to San Antonio to learn that John Jay's Clarissa Davis honed her game playing against men at local military bases. Do we still have these examples in today's games? Has club ball done away with just playing the game for fun? Better yet, have ipods, Xbox, Myspace,etc. taken our young stars off of the court? An example:

My daughter played with a 10 year old scoring machine back home. When I say scoring machine, I mean scoring machine. It is not normal for a 10 year old girl to play the other top 10 year old players in the nation and consistently put up 20 plus a game. California, Las Vegas, and Florida did not matter; she was going for at least 20 points. AAU Nationals with close to 100 of the best teams in the country did not matter; she was going for 20 points. Her father and I would argue for hours about his lying. He would claim that she never played the game other than a few YMCA games. I'm no fool! You do not learn to score like that at the Y. Then in one AAU qualifier, it all came out. On the main court in the championship game for the 10/11 year old boys, I witnessed some of the most athletically skilled young players that I have ever seen. One team was loaded with two 6 foot 5th graders! Their guards were lighting quick. Their forwards were beasts. As I sat there in awe at such talent at this age, the scoring machine walked by and said, " Hi Timmy, Hey Terrance, What's up Sabari". I asked her how did she know these boys. She Said" I go to school with all of them". I play ball with them everyday at lunch". WOW!!!! I turned to her dad and called him a liar! This girl had been playing pick up ball at lunch with some of the best youth basketball players in Southern California for three years. 180 days of school sunshine pitted her against these young studs. Her father went on to explain that he had been called to a parent meeting because these boys were so upset that his daughter was getting so good that they started to ban her from playing. After years of being OK, she was getting so good that they took to physically intimidating her in the form of very rough play. Bloody nose and busted lips would not keep this young girl away. After hearing this, I know could feel comfortable with my self. I know knew why this 10 year old girl could drop 30 points at will on very good competition . I know knew why she played like a boy; reckless and no thought for her safety.

This illustrates the fact that playing basketball outside of a coaches practice or club/school game is and has always been very important in the development of young players. (Watch out for Ashely Catlin at Wagner. I may be spelling her name wrong but the kid can score. She obviously plays with and against boys often. Her game can be more refined but the kid can score)

4.Girls Basketball is so bad-This comment from the message board illustrates the ignorance surrounding girls basketball. It does not suck and it is not bad. Just like the boys game, it CAN be very bad at times at certain levels. The lack of 1 on 1 moves is also a result of not playing the game outside of organized settings and a lack of individual skill development. The lack of ball handling is due to the same reasons.These deficiencies can be seen on the boys side too. The constant Zone play is scrutinized in many circles and is a valid point. Do girls play Zone more than boys teams? Probably. There is no quantifiable data to back that up but in my experience, I do see more Zone from girls coaches. I also see more Zone from less athletic boys teams so that should also be taken into consideration.

As for girls being less mentally tough than boys, I think that is way off base. How many boys have practiced and played games why menstruating? Absolutely NONE! We think that men are tough for playing through pain but women are not? Give me a break.

Katie Smith is not one of the fastest, quickest, tallest, or strongest basketball players in the WNBA but she is the reigning WNBA finals MVP. Smith is able to thrive because of a great skill set but also mental toughness. Name her NBA equivalent. Tim Duncan has been described as being not very athletic but very skilled. He has won the NBA finals MVP. But,Tim Duncan is above the average height in the NBA and in the top percentile regarding height. His height definitely helps. Could he, having the same athletic prowess, dominate a NBA series if he was the NBA average height of 6'7 as Katie Smith recently did. Smith is the average height of the WNBA. One could argue that the NBA has a more grueling season. True, but not true for all. The women in the WNBA play 34 games compared to 82 games in the NBA. However, players like Smith play as many games in European countries to subsidize their WNBA salaries. Playing year around away from your loved ones is not a easy thing to do. Tim Duncan flies first class while Smith rides economy to most WNBA road games. Smith makes between $100,000 and $600,000 a year compared to Duncan's $20,000,000 a year. Some could argue Smith plays in mentally tougher conditions than Duncan.

The women's game is definitely not for fringe basketball fans. It is a game for the purists. It is a game for those that appreciate movement, passing, shooting, strategy and determination. At the highest level, it is a beautiful thing to see. At the lowest skill level, it is brutal and punishing to watch.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Great Weekend for San Antonio Girl's Basketball

This past weekend gave many basketball enthusiasts reasons to cheer in San Antonio.

Tom Brown and his Alamo City All-Stars organization had another event for the girls on Saturday. Brown, formerly with the SA Starz, is a well respected basketball guy in San Antonio in regards to youth basketball. Look out for a feature on Brown in the near future.

His event pitted some familiar teams against each other but also featured some special guests:

UTSA Men's Basketball Coach, Brooks Thompson, was spotted in the gym. Coach Thompson was at the tournament supporting his 8 year old daughter play in an AAU game. The sight of a Division 1 Coach sitting in a chilly middle school gym while feeding a new born on one knee, bouncing a toddler on the other knee and cheering for his little basketball star was a thing of beauty. The very approachable coach spoke optimistically about this years UTSA Men's Team.(UTSA just signed AJ Gasporra out of Los Angeles. I watched Gasporra lead Artesia to a California State Championship two years ago. Gasporra teamed with McDonald All American and projected NBA Lottery pick James Harden, Renardo Sidney,ESPN #5 Ranked player in 2009, and Indiana University Freshman Malik Story. On a team with 2 Future NBA players and so much talent, many felt that it was Gasporra who was the glue guy that made that team go) Coach Thompson and UTSA Womens' Coach, Rae Rippetoe-Blair, are doing some exciting things for San Antonio basketball and we should all support the Road Runners.

Another guest blending into the crowd and Tom Brown's event was the new Incarnate Word Girls Basketball Coach, Troy Patterson. Coach Patterson was smiling often and soaking up the scene. He has a lot to smile about these days due to a very promising group of players for Incarnate Word. The group is led by Kaela Lipo. The 6'1 junior Post Player is one of the best players in the city and reportedly has numerous college suitors. Word is that she may be leaning toward an Ivy League education. The Shamrocks are also returning sophomore Tayler Calvert.The 5'9 Calvert is what you would call a lock-down player. She can guard bigger and smaller players with the same effectiveness. The Shamrocks return seasoned point guard BreAnna Alba and gain a very talented freshmen in Victoria Villareal. Mark my words,Villareal, adidas Super Star Junior pick, is a future star. The sweet shooting lefty is savvy beyond her years. The freshman will make some noise real soon. Speaking of future stars, coach Patterson had to have dreams of a potential future dancing in his head on Saturday. McKenzie Calvert, Taylor Calvert's younger sister, was playing with her fathers Schertz Jaguar team and doing what she is known to do; BALL. The kid can play and her parents are reportedly considering sending McKenzie to Incarnate Word. She is only a 2014 and would eventually play one year with her older sister. The Shamrock is thought to bring good luck. Coach Patterson does not need any luck with this talented group.

The biggest happening for San Antonio this weekend happened in Dallas on Saturday.The Lady Rohawks fought Goliath and almost won. The Lady Rohawks lost to DFW Elite by single digits and the best player in basketball only dunked on them once. Britney Griner did play and apparently had the crowd buzzing as she put on dunking exhibitions during the event. The Rohawks played their trademark lock-down man defense and earned many admirers. More important than the win or loss, numerous Lady Rohawks solidified their college futures. Felicia Jacobs(Roosevelt), Alicia Houston(Reagan) and Michelle Rodriguez(Wagner) all attracted new college suitors with their play this weekend. All three guards upped their stock. The highly anticipated showdown between CeCe Harper(Madison) and Odyssey Simms never materialized as Simms played with her high school team. Harper still represented very well and gave as much as she took against nationally ranked guard, Adrienne Pratcher. Monica Engleman(Madison) reportedly had college coaches foaming at the mouth mad about her commitment to Kansas. She reportedly did it all and did it all very well.

All in all, it was a great weekend for San Antonio Girl's Basketball.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Speaking of Exposure....

Here is a great resource in recruiting. Exposure events are very important but not the only means to gaining attention from college coaches.


Charlie Harper's Trying to Shock the World

Charlie Harper is not one to run from a fight. In fact, the Lady Rohawk coach has been known to ask for a good fight on the court. That is apparently what he did this weekend by taking his girls up to Dallas to meet the best Club Team in the country, DFW Elite. The Lady Rohawks will also face Top 25 Texas Club, Team Express in the Fall Finish exposure event. Not to be confused with TeamXpress, the Dallas area Team Express will hook up against the Rohawks at 5pm on Saturday.

In the DFW Elite game, The Lady Rohawks may face the best player in the country in the dunking sensation, Britney Griner. They will also face Top 20 talents Cokie Reed and Odyssey Simms. Griner has already committed to play college ball at Baylor and may choose to skip the event. However, the sparks will fly when Lady Rohawk, CeCe Harper and Simms square off in a clash of 2010 point guards. Simms is nationally known as one of the best point guards in 2010. CeCe is reportedly anxious to show Simms and the entire country that they are sleeping on her. Just like her father, she can not wait to duke it out on Saturday.

Britney Griner