Tuesday, February 24, 2009

All that Glitters Aint Gold

"If a player can play for a Major D1 school , they should attend a Mid-Major. If a player can play for a mid-major D1, they should attend a lower level D1. If a player is a lower D1 talent, that player should attend a D2 or NAIA. By following this strategy , players can make sure they are at a level they can thrive at".

This quote comes from a coach from a BCS school. This coach was explaining the fact that some kids get enamored with the dreams of playing big time college basketball. The reality is that there is a big difference in earning a scholarship to play basketball and actually getting the opportunity to play.

I had another college coach tell me that a local recruit that signed with a BCS school was a product of "15 scholarships". This coach was explaining that the local player benefited from the fact that this BCS school has 15 scholarships to offer. The high number of scholarships allows for a lot of bench warmers. Now, earning a free education to play a sport that you love is a MAJOR accomplishment. But, it does not always translate into actually getting playing time.

Think about it. There are 73 BCS schools.(There are only 324 Division 1 schools that offer scolarships for Women) For the sake of argument, lets assume that each BCS school plays up to 10 players regularly. That is a total of 730 women who actually get regular playing time in BCS Conferences. Being among the top 730 girls in their senior class is very feasible for a lot of local talents. However, local players need to be among the top 730 players for the last four classes since, the 730 kids earning regular playing time range from freshmen to seniors. The University of Texas is currently playing 10 players at least 10 minutes a game. Among these 10 players are three freshmen, four seniors, one sophomore and one junior. This lack of game minutes is one of the major reasons that there are so many transfers at the Division 1 level. These kids are used to being THE STAR on their high school teams. They are used to playing 30 minutes and getting 20 shots a game. It is very difficult to go from being THE ONE to being a bench warmer.

Monica Gibbs could have played at a BCS school. With 15 scholarships, she definitely could have made the team and probably earned some playing time. Instead, Gibbs chose to attend the smaller UTSA and play from day one. She will leave UTSA as the career leader in a number off categories. She also can say that she has won a Conference Tournament Title(hopefully two) and has played in the Big Dance. She will reportedly get a try out with the Silver Stars after graduation and has a good shot at making some money over seas as a pro. Would she have had such a successful career while playing on a Big 12 team and fighting All-Americans for minutes? Probably not. Gibbs is a prime example of a player that did not go to a college that she could play at but went to a college that she could thrive at.

What is more impressive about Gibbs' choice of UTSA is the network of people she has come to know. Coach Rae Rippletoe-Blair is a two-time SLC Coach of the Year and is young enough to coach another 25-30 years if she chooses . Her Assistant Coach, Tai Dillard, is a former professional player with the Silver Stars. If that was not enough, the Assistant Head Coach, Coach Luby, has coached for over 30 years and works as a scout for the Indiana Fever of the WNBA. Gibbs has surrounded herself with successful people. None are more successful than the UTSA Athletic Director, Lynn Hickey . Hickey serves on the Men's NCAA Basketball Committee. That position earns her the respect as one of the most powerful people in NCAA Basketball. Selection Sunday is filled with coaches praying that Mrs. Hickey is keeping them in mind. Monica Gibbs realized that the Big 12 and other BCS Conferences can be a golden opportunity for some and fools gold for others.