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.