Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Courtney Peay's Big Day!

Marshall High Standout Courtney Peay signs to play for Nyack College last week. Peay is hoping to lead a strong Marshall team to a district title against tough competition that includes strong teams from Jay and Stevens.
Again, Congrats Courtney!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Guard 21!

"Guard 21"! "Stay on 21"! "Watch 21"! These cat calls were heard from start to finish in the championship game of the SAISD tournament on Saturday. I watched a lot of #21. In fact, the entire gym was watching a lot of #21 as indicated by the constant prompts from coaches and parents. Number 21 is Erica Donovan and San Antonio is about to recognize. Donavan is a 5'11 wing for John Jay. Her family recently moved to San Antonio from Ohio and I am sure the John Jay coach has not stopped smiling ever since.

Well, Coach Mike Floyd was smiling all the way up until the end of the SAISD Championship Game when a very bad call gave Stevens High school two foul shots with 1 second to go in a tied game. The game was too good to end that way. The ticky-tack foul called was inconsistent with the way a very fast paced and physical game was being officiated up until that point. The questionable call resulted in a Stevens's guard hitting one of two free throws to ice the game but the championship game was worth the price of admission.

Erica Donovan is worth the price of admission. I received an email from a very promising middle school kid's parent last week informing me of Donavan. I read it sceptically. I thought this parent may have been giving Donavan some home cooking since her very talented daughter will attend Jay next year and play with Donovan. I was very wrong! Donavan is a 5'11 kid who can play inside and outside. She can hit the three and put it on the floor. She is a beast in the post but frequently initiates the offense by running the point in crucial times of the game. She runs the floor hard, cheers emphatically for teammates, and throws cross court passes on a laser to wide open shooters. She directs traffic, rebounds like she is mad(26 boards against Smithson Valley), and refuses to be bullied by physical play. Now here comes the exaggeration; Erica Donavan REMINDS me of Maya Moore. Now, anybody that knows of Maya Moore has just called me crazy but Donavan makes you think of what could be. I did say REMINDS me. Donavan has a similar frame with strong hands and wide shoulders. She moves like a guard with the toughness and nastiness that is usually found in elite post players. SHE IS SOPHOMORE!!! If this kid eats, sleeps, and dreams basketball for the next couple of years, she will be a TOP 10 school player. Right now, Donavan is as good as Chynna Turner. She can tighten up her handle and continue to stretch her range but Donavan can play. SHE IS EASILY ONE OF THE BEST 10 PLAYERS IN SAN ANTONIO!

Maya Moore

Now how about the other #21. As in the MVP of the SAISD tournamnet, Alexis Govan. Govan is another 2011 with a great future. She is long and athletic. Defensively she can guard four positions because of her physical play and quickness. Her unorthodox forays to the basket leave many defenders wondering how to defend her. She is a headache in the Stevens full court press as she plays the spear head of a very effective defense. She deserved the tournament MVP. She gave Donovan trouble in the first half of the championship game(Donovan gave her 14 points in the second half) while scoring 11 in the first half. She hit a NBA range 3 pointer to tie the game with a couple minutes left. Govan is another kid that will achieve great things if she continues to polish her game.

More SAISD Tourny notes:

-Stevens' Coach, Steve Sylestine, lived up to his reputation. I had been told about his coaching ability, but I had yet to see it for myself. I was pretty impressed. His team weathered numerous storms to win the championship because of his great adjustments. Whether it was time outs to stop the bleeding, great sets out of time-outs that resulted in easy scores, disciplined players that knew where their teammates were at all times or switching up defenses to change the pace, Sylestine did it all. Two things really stuck out. The first was that he ran a simple pick and roll set for Alexis Govan in the clutch. He obviously has a wealth of basketball knowledge and could have called upon numerous set plays in the clutch, but he recognized that great coaches put great players in the position to make plays. He spread his shooters and let Govan go to work with a high pick and roll and dared Jay to stop it. That's Basketball! Another thing that stood out was his half time sprints. At half time, Coach Sylestine, dressed in slacks and loafers,always SPRINTS off of the court into the locker room area. He beats his sprinting players to the area to high five and encourage them as they prepare to meet. He then walks away as his players gather and collects his thoughts. This is not commonly seen among coaches and I do not know his motivation. Maybe he is sending a message to his kids that we are excited, prepared and sprinting into the second half of the game as winners. The message may be "let us embrace the adjustments and adversity of winning the second half and I will enthusiastically lead you". Follow Me my little warriors. Your leader is ready to finish strong and I will not let you down. Or maybe it just means he is full of energy and he gets to sprint it off at half time. Whatever it means, Sylestine is a heck of a coach.

-Speaking of Coaching, Jonathan Tate is defying conventional wisdom. The Boerne Champion coach is running the Dribble Drive Motion Offense. The DDM offense is the new craze in basketball due to the way the Memphis Tigers ran it all the way to NCAA Championship game last season. The interesting thing is that the DDM has been derided as organized street ball by some basketball purists. The offense has been described as an offense for undisciplined athletic players that love to dribble, and are "what is wrong" with the game of basketball. No one will mistake Champion for being unorganized athletic street ball players! Coach Tate did a wonderful job of teaching his girls to attack in straight lines.They are not fast, quick, or overwhelmingly strong but they run it very well. His girls shoot well enough to keep the defense honest. His girls thrashed a good Roosevelt team and beat Antonian. Both teams are ranked in the SA Express News Top 10. Roosevelt tried to zone the DDM and it was still effective since Boerne shooters hit open 3 pointers. It is refreshing to see coaches who think outside the box.

Dribble Drive Motion

- Liz Boyd is still the truth. Familiar readers know how I feel about Boyd's game and this weekend did not change my opinion of her. In fact it reinforced it. Boyd averaged 20 plus for the tournament. Boyd signed with St. Mary's last week. St. Mary's got a steal in my opinion.

-Katherine Galindo is much improved. The big lefty from Antonian has a solid jump hook and is a good rebounder. The junior should start to earn some college interest real soon.

-John Jay guard, Julissa Garrett can get buckets.

-Rooselvelt has a promising freshman. Niaga Mitchell-Cole is built like Alexis Govan. Mitchel-Cole is pretty polished for a freshman. Her footwork and passing ability was surprising. Pressure did not bother her at all.

-Roosevelt has a sleeper in 6'1 Asha Hampton-Finch. Finch is very long, athletic and young. The sophomore is an upside kid with good instincts. Her thin frame prevents her from bullying on the block, but she affects the game with her length on the boards and on defense. With some solid individual work, the kid will play beyond high school.

-When Smithson Valley's Danielle Blagg uses her mid-range game, there is only a few players in the city better offensively. Word has it that the University of Central Florida came out last week to see her in a high school game.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

More TeamXpress Signings

Two more high school standouts have recently signed college Letter of Intents to continue their basketball careers.

Reagan High School sharp shooter, Alexis Williams has decided to attend Cameron University in Lawton, Oklahoma. Williams spurned offers from other schools and decided to attend Cameron because the school offered her the chance play as a freshman and she was very comfortable with the atmosphere. Now Williams can concentrate on leading the Rattlers to a potential District Championship.

Lauren Holt, the 6'2 post from Christoval Texas, has decided to attend Angelo State University. Holt is the daughter of former NFL Pro-Bowler, Pierce Holt. Lauren a polished post player that can step away from the basket.

The TeamXpress teammates are hoping to see their new schools make the Division 2 Elite Eight in San Antonio in March. These two signings give TeamXpress a total of eight college bound scholarship players so far. All-State pick, Camille Washington will make it nine very soon.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Tuesdays' observations

I had the chance to view two games on Tuesday night featuring 3 of the Top 5 Teams(Madison,Reagan,Steele) in the city. The games also featured 6 of the Top Players(Jessica Kuster, Alexis Williams,Megan Simmons,Monica Engleman,Lyndsey Cloman, CeCe Harper) in the city and the person whom I was most impressed with was Terry Barton.

The Reagan coach put on a coaching clinic against Steele. Steele went into a 2-3 Zone and Bartons' team went to a high-low Zone offense that featured a baseline post in the short corner. The ultra athletic, Jessica Kuster thrived in the set. Barton also knew that Steele had to come out of the zone because his guards, especially Alexis Williams, can stretch the defense with long range bombs. The last thing that disabled Steele's Zone was the inability to rebound and keep Reagan off of the boards. Olivia Swarner is a monster on the boards. Her 7 points does not tell the story of her effectiveness.

Steele then went to a full court press to speed up the game and utilize its athletes. Bartons' team had little trouble with the press. The ball never touched the floor as the Rattlers turned the press break into a layup drill.

Finally, Steele went man. On paper, they should be athletic enough to stay in front of Barton's Rattlers. That's on paper. The Rattlers run structured sets that incorporate a lot of movement and off-ball screens. The offense creates wide open shots for Williams and isolations for Kuster. Swarner ties up any loose ends. The Rattlers FINISH. After a scoring onslaught from Steele's Meighan Simmons brought the Knights within 3 points, Barton shifted it into a different gear. He called a timeout and ran a beautiful set that resulted in an easy lay up. His team then stretched the lead to 7 points and went to a delay game with 3 minutes left in the game. Inexplicably, Steele let the Rattlers run close to 2 minutes off of the clock and gave up a wide open back door layup to stretch the lead to 9. Game over. Barton can coach! His girls are disciplined, focused and tough. Reagan versus Madison is going to be a great game for all of us basketball enthusiasts.

-Speaking of Madison and clinics, Taft got a lesson in Elite Guardology. Monica Engleman was unreal with 24 points in the first half. SA Express wrote a great article about Engleman improved shooting, but I feel her ball handling is where she has shown the most improvement. Her jumper has always been solid, but she grabbed numerous rebounds and led the break with great decisions. CeCe Harper scored all of her 9 points in the first half and would have had at least that many assists if her teammates finished point blank layups she set up for them.

A few more thoughts follow:

- Lyndsey Cloman needs some help. Even the Oklahoma bound post can not carry the entire team without better guard play. Teams will continue to double down on her if her teammates do not start making shots and taking care of the basketball.

- MacArthur's Victoria Willems and her 17 in a low scoring game against a good Stevens team is impressive.

- Sam Houston's Kiki Ageous went for 45 last night. That total eclipses her friend and club teammate, Jackie Edwards(Holy Cross), 40 point outburst for most in the city so far the season.

- Liz Boyd is the REAL DEAL!! The Antonian guard had 24 points in leading Antonian past a very athletic Judson team. Boyd is one of the most slept on kids in the city. She is one top 3 point guards in the city(CeCe Harper and LenNique Brown the other two).

- Southwest Big, Chatavia Boone-Fudge has tremendous upside. The sophomore is definitely a college player if she continues to improve and gets the proper exposure.

- Madison's Ashley Jordan is a freak of an athlete.

- Olivia Swarner thinks every rebound has her name on it.

- Lytle's Cheyenne Berry is keeping up her high scoring pace by going for 28 last night.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Monica Engleman's Big Day!

Madison High star Monica Engleman signed her Letter of Intent to attend the University of Kansas on Friday. The Lady Rohawk sharp shooter will try to finish her magnificent high school career by leading Madison to Austin.

Engleman can now play her senior season without the pressure of earning a scholarship. Engleman's story is a great one. She has lived with her close friend, CeCe Harper, and her family for the last couple of years. Engleman's mother is actively serving in the military and stationed on the East Coast. Engleman chose to stay with the Harper family to pursue her education and further her basketball acumen. If you walked into various gyms across San Antonio over the last two years, you would find Engleman going hard to improve her game. From Houston to Dallas to Atlanta, Engleman has showcased her talents and gained many admirers. The Harpers have a reputation of demanding academic excellence from their kids and Engleman had to adhere to the same expectations. She worked hard to improve her game. She made sure she was academically eligible to accept a full ride to a Division 1 program. She lived away from her mother and continued to stay focused on the prize. Engleman has spoken with young girls at local basketball practices and encouraged them to keep striving for their goals. Simply put, Monica Engleman did it! CONGRATS!!!!!!!!

Friday, November 14, 2008

TeamXpress College Signings!

TeamXpress has a number of players signing National Letter of Intents this week. The following players have signed since Wednesday:

Lyndsey Cloman- The All-State post player has signed with the University of Oklahoma. Oklahoma is perennially ranked in the Top 25 Nationally and is the preseason favorite to win a tough Big 12 Conference.

Kyra Crosby- The Atlanta post signed with West Virginia. Crosby is ranked in the Top 50 by many scouting services and had a great summer with TeamXpress. She will join former TeamXpress player Sarah Miles with the Mountaineers.

Sabreena Dunure- The All-State point guard signed with the Univerisity of Texas at Arlington. Denure spurned numerous offers to stay in state and play in front of her family.

Aleshia Flowers- The Judson forward signed with the University of South Florida. Flowers is another player that helped her stock this summer with a strong showing and improved face-up game.

Courtney Peay- Peay will sign with Nyack College in New York on next Tuesday. The Marshall High Center will attend the Division 2 program on a full basketball scholarship.
Chelsea McMeans- The 6'1 post signed to play for Lipscomb University . The Division 1 program is in the Atlantic Sun Conference. McMeans will face former TeamXpress teammate, Natasha Dixon. Dixon is a freshman at East Tennesse State.
Congratulation Ladies!

Shana Holmes getting hers!

Shana Holmes, the reigning SA Express Newcomer of the Year, is picking up where she left off. The problem is that most people do not know where she left off. How about scoring more than 26 points per game as a freshman including a 50 point outburst and receiving little attention for it? The reason that Holmes' accomplishments are not garnering as much attention as they should is because she attends Stacey High, Class 1A, on the Lackland Air force Base. Naysayers may explain her enormous numbers as a product of her competition. However, here are some interesting facts:

-The All-Time scoring leader in Texas girls basketball is Adrian McGowen. McGowen scored 5,424 points in her career. McGowen eventually matriculated to Texas A & M. Like Holmes, McGowen played in Class 1A. The difference is that McGowen's exploits were recognized statewide and Holmes has yet to get the same treatment. Holmes' 50 point game is the 61st best game in Texas history. Her 49 point game ties her for the 63rd best scoring output in Texas history. Her 642 total points puts her in the Top 50 for a season and her 26.8 points per game ranks her 24th in Texas history.

- True, her competition may not be the greatest but by no fault of her own. She can not help where she goes to school. She knocks down the pins that are put in front of her. Take last nights number for instance. Holmes goes for 37 in a one point loss. She shoots 12 for 15. I'll repeat that. She shoots 12 for 15!!!! Now, as I did not witness the game, I assumed some things when reading that stat line. She must have played competition so weak that it was a lay up drill. 12 for 15 are numbers reserved for Shaq types. Only the overpowering "Bigs", that bully their way into point blank shots, shoot 12 for 15. Or, only lighting quick guards that harass helpless ball handlers into turnovers and breakaway layups go 12 for 15. I automatically thought the latter was true since Holmes is lighting fast and all of 5'2. I ASSUMED WRONG. The kid hit 7 out of 8 three pointers. Last I checked, the basket is 10 feet and a regulation 3 pointer is 19'9 whether you are playing Class 5A or 1A. Hitting 7 for 8 from three point land and 12 for 15 overall is impressive no matter who you are playing against.

- Holmes is just a sophomore. She plays Club Ball with the South Texas Hoyas and Hoyas Coach, Theresa Nunn, says" In our biggest tournament last season, she averaged 25 points a game." The tournament she is speaking of is a National event in Atlanta that attracts droves of college coaches. With Holmes' outstanding showing, it is no surprise that she came home to find a college letter from the University of North Carolina in her mailbox. The kids that she plays on the Club scene are the same kids Class 5A girls play against. That is the beauty of Club Ball; It allows players like Holmes to prove herself against the best players in the Nation regardless of where she attends high school.

- If Holmes' stats are recognized, she will be one of the more prolific scorers in SA history at this pace. Holmes is on pace to score more than 2500 points in her career. By comparison, All-Everything SA Legend, Clarissa Davis holds the city record at 2,759. Budding SA Legends, Meighan Simmons and CeCe Harper, are on pace to score over 2,900 points and 2400 points respectively. Holmes' total of 2,500 will rank her among the best scorers in SA History, Period!!!!

Am I saying that Holmes is as good as Simmons or Harper? No! I am not saying that. Am I insinuating that Holmes is putting herself in Clarissa Davis status? No! No! No! What I am saying is that Shana Holmes is making history right under our noses. We should probably take a whiff at her accomplishments. She deserves it.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Lady Rohawks Signings!

Lady Rohawk Post, Bobbi Taylor signed her National Letter of Intent to attend South Alabama on Wednesday. November 12th was the first day of the early signing period. Taylor attends Harker Heights in the Killeen area and has garnered a lot of attention while playing the last two club seasons with The Lady Rohawks.

Roosevelt star Felicia Jacobs signed with St Mary's University on Wednesday. Jacobs reportedly passed on numerous Division 1 offers, including track offers ,to sign with the Rattlers. The Rohawk defensive stopper had a great summer and will have a monster senior year. Jacobs reportedly is a great student and and St Mary's academic reputation played a major factor in her decision.

Rohawk sharpshooter Monica Engelman, will sign her National Letter of Intent on Friday at 3 pm in the Madison High School Foyer. Engelman will attend Kansas on a full ride. Engelman's will join a very good Big 12 conference and gives the Lady Rohawks there most prestigious signing of it's brief history. Engelman has lived with Coach Harper and his family for a couple of years and credits the Harper family as being a major reason why she has this opportunity. She is a great kid with a terrific story.

Congrats to all you young ladies. Your hard work and perseverance gives young girls, that are following in your path, a blueprint for success.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Vindicated....So Far

I released my rankings of the Top Players in the city and received a lot of criticism from every corner of the city. "The rankings were club biased", " It was too guard heavy" and my favorite, "You do not know how to judge talent". I loved that one because the three girls for whom I have received the most flack about showed out last night in season openers. I know it is early but I am screaming "I told you so"..... So far!

Jessica Kuster- I ranked her 7th in the city and was told by more than a few that I had it wrong and that was too high. It's OK. She went for 24 points and 16 boards in the season opener against Judson. True, Judson is missing South Florida commit, Aleshia Flowers but Judson is still Judson. Kuster is an upside kid that will continue to get better. SA better take notice.

Danielle Blagg- Who? Exactly! My inclusion of her as knocking on the door of the Top 10 was laughed at by many. She only went for 29 last night in a close loss to Canyon. This sophomore will be a star!

Felicia Jacobs- Another kid who was supposed to be too high on my list. She will continue her monster summer by having a very strong year. She went for 20 out of her teams 33 in a close win over a good Sam Houston team.

Of course the usual suspects of Monica Engleman(20), Meighan Simmons(20) and CeCe Harper(18) all did their thing in blowouts.

The surprising result had to be in the MacArthur vs Taft game. Taft scored 26 points total against 50 for Mac. Oklahoma commit, Lydsey Cloman had 20 and Megan Glassburn had 6 points for Taft. That's It!!! No one else scored. WOW!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

CeCe Harper's Killer Instinct

Athletes commonly use sports as an analogy for combat. We always hear things like " Kobe in the clutch is as cool as an assassin". Or "Tony Parker killed him". We also see fit to make athletes tough with comments like " Charles Barkley was a Beast" or "Roy Williams just crushed him". Of course we all truly understand that these comments and phrases are just hyperbole. The worse example of this happened a few years ago when Cleveland Brown Tight End, Kellen Winslow made an idiot of himself while proclaiming to be a soldier. I am sure our American troops, that are sacrificing their lives for him to have the right to say such stupid things, were not amused with his tirade but most fanatics have used these exaggerations at one time or another. They help us convey our feelings toward a particular player, team or game. I say this because if I had to describe the game of CeCe Harper in two words, it would be "Killer Instinct".

The Madison guard, along with a group of seasoned veterans that include Kansas Jayhawk commit Monica Engleman, is primed to lead the preseason favorite Mavericks deep into the playoffs and a potential trip to Austin. As talented as this group is, there is no question who will have the ball in her hands in crunch time. Bet your money that CeCe will have that responsibility and smart money says you do not want to bet against her coming through in the clutch. In a great article on Kobe Bryant's Killer Instinct, Bryant was quoted saying, "I can get off" -- that is, score at will -- "at any time. In the second half I did that." No one is comparing CeCe to Kobe but some of that same mentality is very apparent in the Madison guard.

I witnessed 6 games in the last high school season in which CeCe went for close to 20 points in the second half of very clutch games. This is telling since she averaged 18 points per game for the entire season. The most thrilling was in the first District match up against the eventual state semi-finalist Wagner. Wagner had no less than three Division 1 basketball players and at least 6 college bounds kids on their roster. CeCe almost single-handedly willed the Mavs to victory as she forced overtime by putting on a show in the 4th quarter. She hit jumpers, did spin moves into the lane for lay-ups, hit open teammates for easy baskets and made big free throws. She had ice water in her veins. The crowd was rocking and the fans for both sides were rowdy but Harper was calm, cool and collected. The question is, what gives her the ability or composure to have that "Killer Instinct"?

The above mentioned article on Kobe Bryant references his childhood. It goes on to speak of a young Kobe playing against the varsity as an eighth grader and a player remarking "Here's this kid, and he has no fear of us at all,". Fear is the opposite of Killer Instinct. Why or how does CeCe overcome fear to thrive when the game counts the most? Here is MY theory:

-Her Big Brothers Toughened her up- CeCe has two older brothers who were both standouts for the Mavs and have gone on to college basketball careers. Having these two as examples have undoubtedly helped her growth. I am sure they used her as a guinea pig on the basketball court as most big brothers will do. Playing against elite boy basketball players has always been a recipe for success for elite girls. It does help to have two of them under the same roof.

- Her mother played basketball- CeCe's mom knows the game. She is often seen in the stands with video camera in hand while encouraging her daughter. She pushes CeCe in workout sessions to get better. It can only help when you can not only discuss mother-daughter stuff with mom but what new move you should add to your game.

The most important reason in CeCe being so clutch, in MY opinion ,is her DAD.

CeCe's Dad is a demanding coach and father- CeCe's father is a coach. He is a very demanding coach that plays a very demanding style. He despises zone defense. His Lady Rohawk team goes into Dallas and Houston and brings the pain to them. His style is full court in- your-face man defense and you better be mentally tough or you will break. An example:

Texas Basketball Preseason All-State pick Taylor Calvert, plays for Coach Harper's Lady Rohawk team during club season. Calvert is very talented with great upside. However, Calvert is as gentle as they come. She is one of the smartest and kind hearted kids you would ever meet. She is a very good on-ball defender and gets after it on the court but you probably would not call her nasty. Enter Coach Harper! I saw coach Harper chew out Calvert for making a play that he considered meek. Coach Harper and meek do not get along very well. I was no further than 10 feet away from the one sided conversation and Coach Harper was hot. AT NO TIME DID HE VERBALLY ABUSE NOR INSULT CALVERT. He just let her know, in a very demonstrative and vocal way, that her play was unacceptable. He was demanding a mental state that refuses to be accommodating. He was demanding a mental state that refuses to back down. Of course Calvert, being the very respectful kid that she is, looked him straight in the eye and nodded in agreement. She understood that he was only making her better. She understood that Coach Harper was trying to instill the "Killer Instinct" in her as he had successfully done with his own daughter, CeCe.

Again, this is just my theory but how can Wagner's fans shake CeCe's confidence when she has heard criticism from the person she admires most on this earth? How can game circumstances inspire fear when her father has instilled a supreme confidence? When the crowd is heckling her, Coach/Dad can be heard yelling " Shooop". Shooop is his way of telling her that her next shot is going to hit nothing but the bottom of the net. "Shooop" is what he yells whenever she shoots. Positive reinforcement from Daddy. When the crowd is cheering her accolades after another great game, she says hi to mom and walks over to dad. They sit there quietly as he critiques her game." When they back into that zone, you must hit that jumper and make them respect you" is what you will hear from Dad. Never mind that she just had a great stat line and her team won. CeCe listens because she understands that this is the reason that she is the player, that she is. This is why she has that "Killer Instinct". While some kids are depressed with what they perceive as overwhelming expectations, CeCe is used to the pressure. A college education is required among her and her siblings. In her home, earning A's is expected. Earning B's is frowned upon and earning C's is almost a capitol crime. Some kids buckle under this pressure but CeCe seems to thrive upon it. Being tough on your kid is discouraged by many today. It's a good thing that CeCe has an old school dad that understands how to use tough love, positive encouragement and sets the bar high. His preparation has developed the "Killer Instinct" in his daughter. CeCe was built for the clutch. At least in my humble opinion!

Monday, November 10, 2008

San Antonio's Future

With High School Basketball starting soon, I want to shed some light on some Middle School Ballers that are making noise in San Antonio.

In no particular order or ranking, I will only give my positive assessment of their game. All of these kids have a long way to go so mentioning areas of needed improvement is not necessary. They all need to improve and stay dedicated to the game but these are some of the better players in the city in the Middle School age group.

Destiny Amezquita- 2013- Big Strong guard with a knack for scoring. She has reportedly went for 40 in a couple of Middle School games last year. She will attend Jay next year and has already practiced and played summer ball with some of the varsity players from Jay. Nice jumper and handle but her strength is getting into the paint to create for herself and for others. Plays with her fathers club team, The Mustangs.

Hannah Thompson-2014- Another super strong kid with great athletic ability. Has played as an undersized post player in the past but was rarely out rebounded. She has been known to dominate games with sheer will. Handle and jumper is constantly getting better and will make her a major force. She goes hard all the time.Will attend Brandeis. Recently joined SA Finest after years with SA Comets.

Corrina Moncada-2014-One of the best on-ball defenders in the city. Smart kid that makes plays. Well rounded offensive player that can hit the open 3 and get into the paint. Her defensive intensity is what distinguishes her. She plays defensive angles as well as any her age. Will attend Wagner and plays club ball with the Jaguars.

Heather Hormuth-2013-Easily one of the most skilled "Posts" in this age group. She has developed a strong face up game to go with her 5'10 frame. Go to move is the "up and under" but has great footwork and hits the 15 footer with regularity. Another kid that goes hard all the time. Will attend Boerne Champion. Club team is SA Finest.

McKenzie Calvert-2014- The best slasher in this age group. Mixes it up well with runners, floaters and spin moves. Athletic ability is off the charts. Jumper is solid and defensive pressure is a strength. Really good and humble kid that plays with a swagger. She is zoned to attend Steele but may join her All-State sister at Incarnate Word. Plays for her father and his Jaguars.

Ashely Ross-2013- The Dennis Rodman of this age group. A rebounding and defensive machine. Very athletic and strong. Will attend Wagner and club affiliation is the Hurricanes.

Recee' Caldwell-2014- Probably the most skilled in the city in this age group. Very rare to see a kid with Yo-Yo handle at this age. A pure and savvy point guard who prefers to pass and has a great IQ for being a 7th grader. Born in the end of 96', she would be a 6th grader if born in Texas. Can shoot off of the catch and dribble. Had a dozen letters before the age of 12. Will go to Johnson. Currently plays for SA Finest but will play up next year with TeamXpress.

Kyra Lambert-2015- No one in her class is even close. Another very skilled combo guard. Can pass, slash, score and shoot. Plays with and against boys on a regular basis and gives more than she takes. She leads by example and is not a rah rah type guard but is always one of the better players on the court. First step is just unfair to defenders. Will attend Steele and plays in a great back court with the Jaguars.

Moriah Mack-2013- One of the best finishers in the city.Has body control and balance that is not often seen at this level. An undersized forward and is a terror on the boards. THE BEST on ball defender in this age group. Will go to Reagan and plays with the Jaguars.

Wendy Knight-2014-Very athletic wing. One of the better finishers in this age group. A very competitive kid with a wide array of finishing moves. She is smooth but explosive and handle has become increasingly strong. She hits the 17 footer with regularity. Will eventually be able to play 3 positions. Will attend Reagan. currently plays for SA Finest.

Amber Ramirez-2016- 5th grade magician. Very strong handle and swagger is amazing for a kid this young. She can hit the three and slash. A good passer and a natural leader. She really sticks out when playing against her own age group. Will eventually attend East Central but currently plays with the Lady Swoops. Another kid that plays against boys often.

Avery Queen-2014- 5"11 kid with a great future.She has a 6 foot wing span that blocks and changes a ton of shots. She has strong low post moves that include an effective turn around jumper and a great up and under. Like most young "bigs", she is still trying to understand her body but her upside is enormous. Her growth plates are still wide open. She has a decent handle and a good jumper from 15 feet. Will attend one of the Boerne schools and currently plays for SA Finest.

Antania Newton-2014-Very quick guard that lives in the paint. She finishes very well and is definitely one of the more skilled young guards in the city. She can score in bunches and is a very solid defender. Will go to Stevens and currently plays for SA Comets(Leonard).

Deleesha Monroe- Very big and strong kid that is tough to keep off of the boards. Another "big" that is continuously getting better and learning her body. Her offensive game is much improved and she is another upside kid. She will attend Stevens and currently plays for SA Comets/Leonard)

Meighan Simmons is like Halle Berry

Cibolo Steele High School star, Meighan Simmons was featured in a wonderful article published in the San Antonio Express-News on Sunday. The article is a collectors item for all the aspiring young female basketball players in the city. It mentioned some of the best players in the history of San Antonio and Simmons's place among them. The sports section also included predictions and local "players to watch" for the upcoming season with Madison being projected as the top team in the city. The article on Simmons brought to mind some interesting conversations that her game inspires.

From a basketball standpoint, Meighan Simmons is absolutely beautiful . ANY knowledgeable and unbiased basketball eye can not deny her overwhelming beauty. Beauty has been defined as " The quality that gives pleasure to the mind or senses and is associated with such properties as harmony of form or color, excellence of artistry, truthfulness, and originality." Simply put, beauty is not common. There is nothing original nor artistic about being common. Simmons plays in a way that is not normal. From the beginning of athletic competition, we have always celebrated the supernatural. Whether it was a Roman Gladiator defeating multiple combatants or Babe Ruth calling his home run, we have always cheered those that can do what we can not. Simmons can do what most girl basketball players can not; make plays that captivate an audience. She has what some call the "WOW" factor.

Halle Berry has been named by People Magazine as one of the most beautiful celebrities seven times including topping the 2008 list. I will not get into my opinion of if and why she deserves the honor. Physical beauty is very subjected but we can probably assume that most people would consider Berry to be beautiful. Substitute Berry for personal preferences like Julia Roberts, Beyonce, Johnny Depp, Denzel Washignton, or whomever you consider beautiful. The point is that there is usually some consensus as to who we consider beautiful or better yet, who has above average looks or deeds.

Meighan Simmons and Halle Berry have some things in common:

-They both are successful in their realms. Simmons is ranked as one of the best players in the nation while Berry has won an Oscar.

-They both are in high demand. Simmons can call up at least 300 of the approximate 350 Division 1 schools and announce she is coming. These coaches would shed tears of joy. Berry is one of the highest paid celebrities today making up to $14,000,000 a movie.

-Unfortunately, they also share the fact that "Familiarity breeds Contempt".

Halle Berry had a husband that claimed that he dreamed of making her his wife for years before it actually occurred. This husband praised her beauty in public at every red carpet event and in every interview. He claimed she was perfect. He said her beauty was unmatched. Things changed quickly when he became familiar with her. He then became unfaithful to her in a very public and embarrassing way.

Meighan Simmons has basically grown up in front of the San Antonio Basketball Community. Any inquiring newcomer to San Antonio will be immediately informed of her beauty as a basketball player. Her stats and accomplishments will be recited. The newcomer will be excited to witness her feats firsthand. They will not be disappointed even if she has an "off-night" because they will recognize the potential for greatness. However, they will start to hear the rumblings. They will hear players who hint at jealousy and mothers that resent her for being better than their babies. They will hear elite dads dissect her game to find flaws. They will see that Simmons has become familiar to those in San Antonio and her beauty is under appreciated.

Micheal Jordan added a new skill or move to his game every summer. The simple fact that he added a skill means that he was obviously lacking that particular skill in the past. This is the most celebrated and beautiful basketball player in the history of the game and his flaws were evident all the way up until his career ended. Did that make him any less beautiful? Halle Berry's estranged husband started to see her differently without out the makeup. His idea of her perfection took a hit when saw her with her hair uncombed hair and her teeth not brushed. Did these things make her any less beautiful? Simmons is a beautiful basketball player any way you slice it. ESPN's Hoopgurlz columnist Chris Hanson wrote rave reviews about her after seeing her in the Spring. You could read that he saw the beauty that we all have come to take for granted. Texas Basketball Magazine is a great periodical. It is informative and comprehensive. But, they recently placed Simmons on the Preseason 3rd Team All-State. They have 70 players ranked higher than Simmons IN TEXAS! Now beauty is said to be in the eye of the beholder,but even a blind man can see... that is just plain UGLY!!!!!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

CATZ is on point!

CATZ Sports Performance Center is the real deal! I know I may be late to the party but at least I have finally arrived.

Saturday morning at the CATZ facility was an eye opener. A Middle School club basketball team was being put through a rigorous training session with San Antonio Silver Stars Strength and Conditioning Coach, Mike Ekanem. Ekamen effectively handled 10 girls with ages that ranged from 9 to 14 years old. Trainers typically have to teach to the lowest skill-set so watching Ekamen give specific attention to a 3rd grader and still challenge an 8th grader was quite impressive.

The CATZ facility accommodates parents with a small viewing area that includes a few stationary bikes just in case parents get motivated by what their children are accomplishing. The facility includes a full blown Doctors office led by Dr. Shaylon Rettig. The facility's marketing director, Ricky Webb, is the icing on the cake. His professionalism and interaction with parents, coaches and his staff shows why CATZ will inevitably have to expand shortly. He is very good at promoting a product that is in demand and very needed. The most important development of the day happened later in an ACL Prevention Clinic.

Any informed girls basketball coach or parent will tell you that the boogie man is never far from their mind and his name is " ACL injury". Those dreaded words make the toughest dads shake with fear. Some parents expect it as an unavoidable situation. Last year at a University of Texas Women's basketball practice, I asked the mother of a current Longhorn to give me some advice in preventing a torn ACL. Her daughter had already torn both of her ACL's and currently plays with huge knee braces. This mother told me " There is nothing you can do about it, it's going to happen." Needless to say, that was not the advice that I was looking for. The comment does emphasize how prevalent the injury is in elite girls/women's basketball. That is why CATZ should be applauded with what they are doing in regards to ACL prevention and rehabilitation. The clinic was a joint effort between CATZ, College Promoters of Texas and Texas Physical Therapy Specialists.

Some Clinics notes follow:

- Girls basketball players are 4 to 5 times more likely to experience a torn ACL than their male counter parts. While there is no guaranteed prevention of an ACL injury, the likelihood of an injury can be significantly reduced with proper training.

- Anatomical differences are a major reason why girls have a higher risk of ACL injuries. Girls have wider hips, tend to be more knocked kneed and recruit their quadriceps instead of their hamstrings to decelerate.

-Most ACL injuries for girls occur during non-contact situations such as sharp cutting or landing.

- Since girls are typically Quadriceps dominate, it is important to create muscular balance by strengthening the hamstrings, hips and glutes.

-The PEP Program has been able to help reduce ACL injuries by 40% in some cases. Catz incorporates the PEP program in its training.

One of the highlights of the clinic was seeing some of the exercises and techniques that CATZ utilizes in ACL prevention and rehab. Head Performance Coach, Carlos Reyes was very informative. Coach Reyes's passion and expertise was very evident. I have been involved with coaches and trainers who guard their "secrets" like the KFC original recipe. They feel that their contributions will not be needed if they tell you their "secrets". Reyes openly encouraged the attendees to Google the PEP program and incorporate it into our perspective teams and/or children's exercise program. Reyes and the CATZ organization understand that girls will benefit from sharing knowledge and resources. They also understand that most informed individuals will pay professionals to do professional work. I was already aware of a few of the exercises and information that was shared with me at the clinic but I understand that the health of my daughters and players should supersede my need to do it all. With that being said, you can probably guess who will be providing speed, agility, strength and ACL prevention training for my girls in the future.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

College Happenings!!!

Two players affiliated with TeamXpress have recently committed to play Division 1 Basketball on full basketball scholarships.

Chelsea McMeans has verbally committed to Lipscomb University. The 6'1 post had a great summer with TeamXpress and showcased an improved skill set that includes a very strong mid-range game. McMeans plays for La Vernia High School in Lavernia, Texas.

Sabreena Dunure has verbally committed to play for the University of Texas at Arlingnton. The Corpus Cristi Carroll point guard missed a good portion of the Club season due to minor injuries. Denure is now healthy and primed for a great senior season. The heady lefty is one of the better floor generals in the state of Texas.

These two verbals give TeamXpress a total of 5 players that have already committed and will sign the National Letter of Intent next week to attend Division 1 Universities. They include:

Lyndsey Cloman- Oklahoma
Aleisha Flowers- South Florida
Kyra Crosby- West Virginia

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Lyndsey Cloman Speaks!!!

Who do you pattern your game after?

If I had to pick one person to pattern my game after it would definitely be my dad. He was my first teacher of the game and he has taught me a great deal in the last 9 years. He played basketball in college and he believes in a lot of the "old school" practices, plays, defense and basics of basketball. He was my first true inspiration and I credit him with the knowledge he's passed on to me about this great sport.

What are your expectations going into your senior year?

My expectations every basketball season (like the last three) are always high. Every year our team has gotten hit hard by graduating seniors but I have confidence that with hard work, patience, and persistence we can be a great team.

How did you end up playing with TeamXpress and what guided your decision?

I started playing AAU basketball in the fourth grade when Coach Patrick Alexander found me playing at my elementary school at St. Peter's Prince of Apostles School. If it wasn't for him I would have never known AAU basketball existed. I give him much thanks for seeing the talent in me that I had not yet seen in myself. I played with Coach Alexander's team, the Texas Breakers for five years. Coach Alexander's philosophy was to always to set a new goal and to get better every year. Going into high school I knew my goal was to be a stronger, versatile post player and I knew I was going to have to work hard to achieve that goal. Little did I know my life was about to change. In the summer of 2005, my dad, mom and I were attending a Silver Stars game and I happened to bump into Coach Clarissa Davis-Wrightsil. We started to chat about basketball ,AAU, my freshman varsity season at Taft and most importantly ....my goals. She said with her knowledge and hard work ethic and my perseverance and commitment to be a better post player, she could help me meet my goals.,,but it wasn't going to come easy. She included my parents in the conversation and she talked about her TeamXpress Foundation Basketball Program and how it provided opportunities for her players to compete at the highest level of competition and at the same time attain an athletic scholarship to a major Division 1 University. I am happy to say my decision to play for Team Xpress and Coach Clarissa was the best choice I made for myself and my future.

What things did you learn from your TeamXpress experience?

The number one thing I learned with Team Xpress was the definition of hard work. It helped me understand and prepare myself for the next level of competition. Coach Clarissa didn't ask for great....she expected it from each and every one us. She knew what each of us were capable of even though we didn't. I'll never forget that.

What was the deciding factor in choosing Oklahoma?

There were many things that attracted me to Oklahoma. They have a top notch Coaching Staff in Coach Sherri Coale, Coach Chad Thrailkill, Coach Jan Ross and Coach Stacey Hansmeyer as well as super athletic and academic programs. Their university is ranked as one of the top schools in the country and their top of the line training facilities are fantastic.Last but not least, the team itself left a very big impression on me. These group of young women are like a huge family. The respect they have for each other is truly genuine. They love life and welcomed me with open arms. I knew this is where I wanted to be.

Favorite Movie?

I have two favorite movies: Beauty and the Beast also Love and Basketball

Favorite thing to do outside of basketball?

My favorite thing to do outside of basketball is to chill with family and friends. My busy schedule helps me to appreciate and enjoy the "down" time when I do get it. It's nice just to be around your friends and enjoy what life has to offer.

What advice would you give the young girls that are trying to follow your path.

For young girls that follow my path, I would tell them that only they can shape their own destiny. What they do today will echo in their future. Don't let anyone tell you that cannot reach your goals....just remember it takes hard work to get there.

Who do you consider the Top 3 teams vying for the District Championship?

In Northside district there is always a lot of competition. The district this year has teams that are in the rebuilding process as well as teams that have post players but no guards and visa versa guards with no post players...so I think it's going to be interesting.

Who is your favorite player?

Lisa Leslie