Monday, November 30, 2009

Thunderbird Ink!

Len'Nique Brown and Chelsea Solis signing with USC and Texas A&M Kingsville

NEISD Tourney Notes!

The team currently ranked #10 in the state for 5A came into San Antonio and won the NEISD Tournament. Hightower won the championship against a stubborn MacArthur team by the score of 54-50. The game was a moral victory in some ways. Some notes follow:

MacArthur repping 26-5A- I was starting to wonder how good the district was. Roosevelt being thumped by Jay, Madison suffering the same at the hands of not only Jay but O'Connor, MacArthur losing to Stevens by double figures and Reagan losing at home to Steele all indicated that this may be a down year for 26-5A. MacArthur erased some of the perception with a spirited effort. Hightower had a very good little guard named Brittney Matthew, who pretty much did as she pleased the entire event. However, Karisa Cantu played extremely well against her and was not bothered by her pesky defense. Cantu attacked in straight lines and touched the paint throughout the game. I knew Cantu had a good handle but she was especially impressive this weekend. I was very surprised that she did not make the all-tournament team. Marquisha Sparks had a strong tourney and Nichole Kindred was solid as well. Both made the all-tournament team. The Brahmas may be asserting themselves as the front runners for 26-5A.

Arlene Cisneros- Cisneros, aka Annie Oakley, is a gunner. The small guard for O'Connor is unorthodox to say the least. First, she uses her right foot as her primary pivot foot when shooting. Usually, right handed shooters step into their shots using the left foot as the primary pivot foot. Second, Cisneros dips the ball to her right hip when shooting. She literally resembles a wild west shooter grabbing her pistol from a side holster before letting fly. The footwork, dip and release is contrary to every shooting truth out there but the results are effective. She gets it off quickly and in the faces of opposing defenders.(Nichole Kindred kept Cisneros in check during the Mac game and deserves a lot of credit for her team beating O'Connor. The long and athletic Kindred took the defensive assignment personal and was instrumental in the win).

O'Connor- Sitting behind the O'Connor bench I heard the best coaching advise that I have heard in a long time. Coach Karmen Wilson told her guards "I do not care what you do, just get it done". I loved it! Imagine that, a coach letting her players play! O'Connor has good guard play with Cisneros, Michelle Navarro and Justina Chapa. I particularly like how savvy Navarro is. The lefty always has her head up the floor and unlike a lot of guards in the event, she constantly passes the ball up the floor to keep pressure on the defense. She takes what the defense gives her by penetrating or hitting open jumpers. The back court is complimented by Ebony Easter. The undersized post player is one of the better post scorers in the city. The 5'9 sophomore will be a guard in college and has improved her handle considerably. O'Connor initiates some of the offense through her at the high post and Easter causes serious match-up problems for opposing Bigs. Speaking of Bigs, Nina Checotah has upside! The underused 6'2 lefty needs a little polish but showed flashes of promise throughout the event.

CeCe Harper- When speaking with Harper's mother before the O'Connor game, I commented that CeCe would have to score 40 points if Madison was going to keep it close. CeCe went out and scored 39 out of her teams 64 points, but could not will the Mavs to victory. The show she put on in the second half was something to behold. She dribbled through the O'Connor pressure like they were cones. She weaved in and out of defenders for layups, she hit at least 5 threes from NBA range and dropped plenty of dimes that were in all honesty, DROPPED. Harper went from a team that featured 3 other college players (Monica Engleman, Ashley Jordin and Alisha Crump) to a relatively inexperienced current team. I almost feel sorry for Harper until I am remember she has won a district championship and will play for the nationally ranked Kansas Jayhawks next year.

Reagan- The Rattlers had the eventual tourney champ, Hightower down double digits at halftime before succumbing to the defensive pressure. Unfortunately for Reagan, they had to face Hightower in the second round. The more I observe Terry Barton, the more impressed I get. He gets a lot out of his kids. His team is always disciplined and well prepared. I watched his squad turn Steele's press into a lay up drill a couple of weeks ago. His team did the same to Hightower in the first half until Hightower's coach realized that the Rattlers were well coached. The half court defense and superior guard play eventually overwhelmed them. One thing is for sure, the Rattlers will not lose due to being out coached.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Still Fundamentals!

While visiting a recent college practice, I was amused with how fundamentals were drilled and stressed at that level. The same things that every youth coach should be teaching 8-9 year old girls were being reinforced at the Division 1 level elite young women. Some of the teaching points follow:

1. Communication- One particularly seasoned and nationally recognized coach yelled " Lack of talking will kill you both offensively and defensively". This coach continued to repeat that communication was too important to neglect. This coach repeatedly drove home this fact during transition defense where a lack of communication led to minimally contested lay ups. Giving up lay ups at any level is a recipe for failure.

2. Closing Out- A decent amount of time was spent on proper closing out on the perimeter. The familiar command of "chopping" feet was repeatedly given. One of the most overlooked aspects of close-out defense was focused on and that is foot placement. When one defender closed out and arrived with an exaggerated staggered stance, one coach showed her her folly. By closing out with one foot too high, a good offensive player will attack that high foot. I find that a lot of local coaches teach that high foot close-out, which inevitably allows dribble penetration when our local kids/teams play outside of San Antonio.

3. Jump Passing- This coaching staff reiterated to an extremely talented but young player that jumping to pass leads to turnovers. More times than not, a player that jump passes routinely is more prone to turnovers. Some innovative coaches at the Collegiate and Pro levels actually teach the jump pass. John Calipari teaches it as a weapon for his Dribble Drive Motion and the increasing popular "Drift Baseline Pass" is also taught and well executed at the elite levels. However, young players should be taught NOT to jump pass and later advised WHEN to do it.

4. Lay Ups- This college team practiced lay ups! It has been said that more games have been won or loss due to missed lay ups than any other shot. Especially in girls/women's basketball, where the game is predominately played below the rim, layups can make or break at team. This practice featured layups from different angles, with different hands and many non-traditional ones like reverse lay ups and strong-strong strong-hand lay ups.

5. Post Defense- The head coach stressed the importance of not allowing the offensive player to catch the ball in the post. This alleviated the need to double down from the perimeter. If the post never caught the ball in a scoring position, defenders can stay at home and not double team. This fundamental philosophy led to wrestling match for position on the block. This is one of the areas where youth basketball can do better. Very few youth coaches effectively teach low post defense. Do you front, 3/4 deny or play from behind? The lack of dominant Bigs at the youth level leaves a lot of kids not knowing how to defend to post.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Charde Houston is my new favorite player!

I am posting an email sent to me for posting by Theresa Nunn of the South Texas Hoyas. While coach Nunn did not mention her own organization, I happen to know many of her parents and NO ONE has circled the wagons to help and provide support for these kids like her own STH group. The email follows:

I wanted to write to you about the amazing support we've been receiving in this tough time, and how so many wonderful people have not only contributed, but have also committed to help the kids see a brighter future, and lift up their spirits in the process! We have literally received responses from people all over the WORLD!

The one person who sticks out the most is Charde Houston, of the WNBA-Minnesota Lynx,and former UCONN player! She is amazing! Charde read about the story on , and the very same day, I received an email from her titled: "HELP IS ON THE WAY!", and she was serious! There is a networking site called Twitter, and it's amazing how things can spread on there, good and bad, but this definitely was one of the "good" causes that has spread all over the Internet! (See to read about how Twitter can be used in a good way, story about Charde) Since the moment Charde heard about the tragic story, she has been on a MISSION! She has organized a fund-raiser ( ) for my player and set a goal to not only raise money, but be a mentor for her as well! She has committed to taking her on the road with her during the WNBA season to keep her motivated, and to continue to gain support from around the world for my player and her brother on a long-term basis. She has asked some of her colleague & teammates (Nikki Anosike,Chamique Holdsclaw,Renne Montgomery, Cheryl Ford, Diana Turasi, Tameka Johnson, Dwight Howard,Charlie Bell, Candace Parker, Chantelle Anderson,Cappie Pondexter, Ketia Swanier,Roneeka Hodges,Swin Cash,Janel McCarville,Candice Wiggins) to do some amazing things, such as commit to sending the girl and her brother shoes once a month, sign apparel/shoes to give to the girl as well as auction off in another fund-raiser she set up on Ebay, and most of all, to keep spreading the word! She is having a contest for people to design a shoe on NikeID in honor of Domestic Violence and saying she will wear the shoes in a game and then auction them off, she's also going to auction off her jerseys, and her shoes from the All-Star game last year. She is also seeking support to keep up payments on (girls name) braces with her Orthodonist. She has been through some tough times as a kid, and went from being homeless to a WNBA All-Star, so that is what drove her to start her organization, Project Y.O.U (Youth Opportunities Unlimited-Hardship Breeds Success).
Below is the Blog she posted on :
Houston Raising Money to Aid Family in Need
Nov 23 2009

"Hey Lynx Fans!

My, my it's getting cold here in France! While the temperature is dropping, we can always keep a warm heart. As the holidays are approaching, just ask yourself, "What can I do to brighten up the lives of others?" As for me, I have already done so.

Life for me, as many may know, is more than running up and down the basketball court. I am an active member in the community, and I am always looking for ways to help others.

I came across an article on twitter this past week about two children who lost their mother in a domestic violence dispute. It saddened me to hear that story, and I immediately started to ask myself how I can be a shining light to this family. I know that twitter is a social media network that is used for many things, such as expressing thoughts and staying in tuned with the latest gossip. I figured that we, as friends, sisters, brothers and parents could come together with compassion and show our deepest sympathy for this family.

I strongly believe that when someone experiences tragedy such as this, those from near and far can make a world of difference by pulling together, and showing them that they are not alone. These kids (Girl, age 11; and boy, age 8) were left with nothing when their mother passed. Although they come from a strong family, they will be left with only memories and proud moments that they shared with their mother.

I have come up with an idea to help raise money for this family. Based on the number of followers I currently have on twitter, if everyone donated just $2, we would be able to raise $3,288.00 for this family in need. Along with myself, many people who follow me have decided to take a big step in donating money to this family. Of course, if you are able to give more, that is always appreciated.

I have set up a paypal account through Project Y.O.U. for those who are willing to donate over the web. We will keep this active until December 20th, and that will give us time to present them with the money. If the goal is reached before then, we will not stop there. We will give the $3,288.00 on the day that our goal is reached. Anything collected after will be sent out on the 20th. You do not have to be a twitter user to make a donation. Please send out mass e-mails, and tell your friends about this. Lets make it happen:)

To donate via paypal please visit this site.

For those who would like an alternative, you can make checks or money orders out to:
Rose Sledge
P.O.Box 740070
San Diego, CA 92174

In order to respect the family's privacy, I will collect the money, and have it personally delivered to the family, along with Christmas gifts for the kids. This will be done just in time for the holidays! I too know what it's like to go without; It hurts, and I just want these kids to have a great life.

I know this blog is different from one that I've ever written, but I hope it will touch the hearts of many. When you feel like your life is hard, just think about people who have to go through things like this. Give thanks everyday. This could have been you.

My heart goes out to that family. I will make it my business to do everything in my power to get you all the help that you need. That is my promise to you. "

Stay Strong,

Charde Houston

Some others that are just as AMAZING are:

LaToya Peterson- has an organization in Minnesota, that helps at risk youth, and has teamed up with Charde in her efforts to help these children. She has offered to gather support from her colleagues to obtain things for the kids, such as clothing and bedroom furniture.

Sally Jenkins- She is a sportswriter in New York and heard about the story through Charde Houston's twitter page. She has since, not only donated, but also sent them a huge package with shoes, apparel, essentials, a Tennessee Vols Women's Basketball Program, and four books on Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and two on Pat Summit (in which she has written). She has also committed to being a long-term sponsor for the children! Simply amazing!

@DreamWithFaith (Twitter UserName)- Has been in the music/entertainment industry for over 25 years, and has her own Healing the Homeless Organization. She also heard about the story through Charde Houston's twitter page, and has committed to helping find sponsorship for all of my player's entire AAU expenses, as well as donating her services to hold a fund-raiser in San Antonio as well as another major city! (More info coming soon!)

Dan Hughes- Head Coach of the San Antonio Silver Stars has made a donation, and has sent words of encouragement to the family!

Susan Donohoe- NCAA Vice President of Division 1 Women's Basketball has offered to do something for my player during the Women's Final Four event to "help lift her spirits".

Tom Brown- Locally, he is the YBOA Director, and the moment he heard about what happened, he sent a mass email out to everyone he knew, and since then, I've received numerous emails regarding people (as well as Tom & his wife) wanting to donate!

Nell Fortner- Head women's basketball coach for the Auburn University Women's Basketball Team. She has offered to write my player, as well as encouraged her players to do so often, for encouragement and support!

Monica with SilverStars Nation- She is the co-owner of and posted the story on her website, and since then, we have received responses/donations from many of the Silver Stars front office. She has also spread the word to ESPN 1250.

Judge Robert Lipo- for donating his time and expertise for the not-so-nice side of the story.

David Scott- with HBO, for making a monetary donation!

Cindy Dallow,PhD-Sports Dietician (UNC Performance Team) gave a monetary donation!

San Antonio's Finest (Boys & Girls)- They have helped with monetary donations, gift cards, clothing, EVERYTHING!!! Not only that, but they have given so much support, from holding fund-raisers within their organization for my player and her brother, contacting businesses such as Walmart to attempt to obtain donations from them, baking cupcakes and selling them as a fund-raiser, one parent even donated money into the children's lunch accounts at their schools!

Lady Rohawks and Team Xpress-I have received emails from parents regarding sending monetary donations, gift cards, and clothing, as well as volunteers for our fund-raising events once we have them.

SA Hustler's (Boys)- Have given a monetary donation!

Sabinal Warriors(Girls)- Are holding a team fund-raiser for the children, as well as offered to volunteer at our fund-raising events once we have them.

SA Comets & SA Magic- Have given monetary donations, as well as clothing.

Oak Hills Church- Has posted an article in their bulletin (At no cost) to spread the word, and members have already donated monetary donations as well as gift cards for the children.

ShesBallin - Thank you for initially getting the word out, because of your efforts, everyone else was able to read the story. Without you posting it, none of this would've been possible!!!

There are so many other people that I'm sure I haven't mentioned, so to ALL of them, on behalf of the family, THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR SUPPORT,ENCOURAGEMENT, AND PRAYERS!!!

Some websites the story is posted on:

Posted on ShesBallin:

Posted on

Posted on Project Y.O.U. website:

Posted on SilverStarsNation:

Posted on ChantelleSays:

Posted on Minnesota Lynx website:

Website to make a donation through PayPal:

Theresa Nunn

South Texas Hoyas

Coach Speak!

College coaches can now comment publicly about their signees. He are a few quotes about the signings of our local stars with their programs. The first four quotes are from Hoopgurlz:

-Coach Greg Williams: Rice

"Jessica(Kuster) is very athletic and she runs extremely well She is a good passer and is smart player on the court who can also defend on the perimeter against smaller players and can play in the post."

-Coach Deb Patterson: Kansas St.

"We have added speed, strength and size to our program with this signing class. I like the versatility of skills that these players(Stephanie Whittman) bring to the floor as individuals. These are players who can run, score and make plays one-on-one, and who also bring a strong commitment to rebounding and defending the ball. I am very excited about the toughness and intensity they bring to the floor. I expect this entire class to make an immediate positive impact on the success of our program."

-Coach Bonnie Henrickson: Kansas

"CeCe(Harper) has an extremely high basketball IQ. She is a good shooter who can extend the defense with her range. At the same time she is effective off the dribble and has great court vision. She is the complete package."

-Coach Niya Butts: Arizona

"Kiante(Ageous) is going to be a player who adds toughness to our group. She doesn't care where she plays on the floor- she just wants to contribute in any way she can."

Taken from Stephen F. Austin website:
-Coach Lee Ann Riley-SFA

"We are thrilled to announce the signing of Cheyenne Berry," said Riley. "We have been watching her play since her sophomore year and just love the way she plays the game. The ultimate competitor, she will do whatever it takes to win. Cheyenne has the ability to hit the three or score off the dribble, but I think her best asset is her court vision and passing skills."

Quote from Cheyenne:

"When I took my visit, I fell in love with the atmosphere," said Berry. "After hangin with the team and seeing all that SFA had to offer, I knew I could see myself there for the next four years. Thanks to all the time, dedication and support from my parents and older brother (who invested) in my basketball career, I'll now get an opportunity of a lifetime. I feel fortunate enough to have had parents who attended every game since the seventh grade and a brother who pushed as hard as he did to make me into the player I have become."

Monday, November 23, 2009

The game we all wanted to see! and more notes!

The Texas Invitational featured two of the top teams in San Antonio and they met each other in a game that we all wanted to see. The preseason top ranked John Jay Mustangs locked up with the second ranked Wagner Thunderbirds. The double overtime game finished with the Thunderbirds coming out on top with a 60-55 victory. No disrespect to Steele but Wagner has to be the #1 ranked team in the city. Many felt they should have been the preseason #1 team. As for now the score is 1-0, Wagner.

The game featured a game within the game. Some of the most vocal objections to my city rankings this past summer involved Arielle Roberson. Many readers felt that Arielle Roberson was a Top 5 player in the city and arguably better than her TeamXpress club teammate, Erica Donovan. I love Donovan's game and the passion that she plays with. She is one of the strongest kids in the city. However, Roberson may have just laid claim to the #1 spot for the class of 2011 in San Antonio. The numerous reports that I received from the game all confirmed that Roberson was dominant in the win. She scored 28 points to Donovan's 20 points in the head to head match up. Roberson got just a little help(22 points) from USC bound Len'Nique Brown in the victory. This discussion will not be concluded until next year but as for now the score is 1-0, Roberson.

- Madison lost in the Division 2 championship game of the Texas Invitational. CeCe Harper made the all-tournament team behind scoring outbursts of 26 and 30 points. I have stated that CeCe Harper will challenge Meighan Simmons for the scoring title this year. Monica Engleman, Ashlin Jordan and Alisha Crump have moved on to the collegiate level and left CeCe surrounded by a young and inexperienced group of teammates. Being the competitor that Harper is known to be she must score a lot more this year in the past. She is certainly capable.

-Speaking of scoring, Shana Holmes is going to make her presence felt this year. The high scoring guard has transferred from Stacey and is putting up crazy numbers for Southwest this season. She has already hit the 30 point mark this season in a couple of games and I will be very surprised if she does not average 20 plus for the year.

-Raven Reyes will lead the city in rebounding. The Fox Tech big registered her second 20 rebound game this past weekend. She also is a much improved scorer and had a 21 point 20 rebound game against Memorial.

-Beorne Champion is underrated! Champion lost by 5 points to previously #1 ranked Jay, when Jay's Kiara Tayler hit a three with the game tied and less than a minutes on the clock. The intentional fouls made it 5 points. They also beat the preseason #8 team in Stevens in their first game of the year.

- Meighan Simmons is worth the price of admission. During a game against Reagan last week, three young guys came and sat near me. These three young men would have made those that watch too much TV uncomfortable. Their attire was not typical for a girls basketball game at Reagan. These guys were men, I would guess in the early twenties. One of the guys went on constantly telling his other two buddies how "nice" Simmons was. While Simmons struggled early, his boys wondered aloud if she was overrated. Then it happened. Reagan standout Jessica Kuster was dribbling up the court when Simmons darted in front of her to steal the ball. The ultra-athletic Kuster ran to the rim for a show down with Simmons. Simmons then pulled a Jamal Crawford and the crowd went wild. The other two guys did not need any further evidence to persuade of how "nice" she was. They were convinced.

SAISD Tourney Notes!

-Key Matchup-
Antonian proved to be queens of the court in the SAISD Tournament this past weekend. Many thought that Roosevelt was the favorite to win the event until the Apaches dispatched them in second round. The game was a contrast of styles and coaching.

While Rice University was in attendance to undoubtedly keep a watchful eye on Roosevelt's Asha Hampton-Finch and Niaga Mitchell-Cole, what they saw was a clinic in basketball execution. I have long thought that Antonian coach, Breck Ross is one of the better teachers in San Antonio and this past weekend reaffirmed my opinion of him. Antonian sliced up Roosevelt's diamond press like this upcoming Thursdays dinner. It turned into a lay up drill for the Apaches. The very athletic Rough Riders are extremely long and fast BUT were not long or fast enough to beat the ball down court. It is amazing how precision passing, proper spacing and disciplined players can render a pressing team ineffective. The Rough Riders then dropped back into a zone and the Antonian guards hit jumpers, exploited gaps and fed SAISD Tourney MVP, Kathryn Galindo for easy scores. Liz Briones is shooting the ball very well for the Apaches. Nicole Conlee also made the all-tournament team for the Antonian.

-A Few Standout Players
Niaga Mitchell-Cole(Roosevelt)- I become more enthralled with Niaga's game every time I see her. She is one of the few kids in the city who can get her shot off against extreme pressure. The sophomore has a long way to go in terms of tightening her handle and smoothing out her jumper but her middle range pull up jump shot is beautiful. Her first step is deceptively fast and her court vision is impressive. I can only imagine her in a spread offense with a simple on-ball flat pick to allow her to do what she does: BALL!!!

Liz Briones (Antonian)- Liz Briones has to be considered one of the better catch and shoot three point shooters in the city. The evolution of her game has allowed her to leave the post and routinely nail 20 footers. The always vocal Briones is now a great compliment to the low post presence of Katryrn Galindo.

Chamaya Turner (Canyon)- I wrote about the freshman sensation after working with her in a camp a couple of months back, but this was my first opportunity to see her in high school. She did not disappoint! The freshman guard/forward made the all-tournament team while leading her team to a close semi-final lose to Del Rio. Turner scored 18 in that 43-42 loss but crashed the boards and contributed key assists. Turner is one of the most productive freshman varsity players in the area, along with Jay's Destiny Amezquita and Boerne Champion's Brooke Allemand.

Monique Waters (East Central)- Waters is as quick as they come. The 5'2 senior guard has one gear, VERY FAST! She puts constant pressure on the defense by penetrating at will. Her handle is decent but it is her extraordinary speed in the open court that allows her to live in the paint. She can score, as witnessed by her 24 points(17 in the 2nd half) against Taft.

Jennifer Dye (Taft)- Dye is the MOST VOCAL kid that I have encountered in a long time. She directs her squad like a seasoned coach. She YELLS things like "I see you working Josalyn, keep it up girl", throughout the game in encouragement of her teammates. She plays as hard as she cheers and hits the ground often. Her offensive game can be a little more fluid but she gave East Central 19 points in the first half of their game to finish with 26 points in a close loss.

Kiante Ageous (Sam Houston)- KiKi was the best player in the event. Her game has been discussed repeatedly on this blog but probably not enough. Unfortunately, KiKi gets overlooked while playing in 3A. She scored at will against constant double teams.

Ashley Bryand(Smithson Valley)- Byrand consistently went for double-doubles in the event. The power forward is the only inside presence for SV. Bryand plays with the very talented Danielle Blagg and a good shooter in Allison Salmon. She takes care of the dirty work and was key in a couple of wins for SV in the event.

Vanessa Winston-(Austin Akins) Walker was going to work in the event. The small but extremely fast point guard is super strong. Her hesitation move going right was unguardable. She was easily one of the best players in the tourney.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

She Believed She COULD, So She DID!!!

The following was sent by the parents of Steele point guard and Southern Illinois signee, Olivia Patterson. Olivia IS a great story. Her size has been a constant obstacle in her journey of earning a Division 1 scholarship. I have wrote about Olivia numerous times as being one of the best point guards in the city. However, my assessment of her being the 24th best player in the city in an earlier ranking was cause for her father to politely disagree with my opinion. In my response to her father I wrote, "It does not matter what I think, only what college coaches think". Southern Illinois saw a kid that was an 'Overcomer" and thought enough of her to make an investment into her future, all while basically rendering all other opinions of Olivia meaningless. I was one of those that thought Olivia was going to enter her senior basketball year unsigned and with something to prove. I was partly right. Olivia enters her senior campaign SIGNED but still with something to prove. She is aimed at Austin for her third consecutive year and being the point guard for the eventual state champions! And yes, she also out to prove that some of us can not see the forrest for the trees and she is very underated! Keep showing and proving young lady! Her family writes:

"If you were to ask a college basketball recruiter if they had a choice to sign one of two point guards, both with excellent court vision, elite ball handling ability, and lockdown defense , and one of them was 5’7” and the other 5’0”, which would they choose? Ninety nine percent of the time they would choose the taller of the two. It’s nothing wrong with that choice it’s just smart recruiting. Basketball is a game of “inches” and by the way, pun is intended. Over the past seven years we as parents have continuously attempted to put our daughter Olivia in the best situations possible to achieve her dreams of playing DI college basketball. From having our own basketball club, coaching, and fundraising we have done it all!

Olivia has a passion for the game that is undeniable, even though her small stature always appeared evident to others. Her effortless hard-work and talent was something that as parents we seen defy all odds. We recognized that the desire and love that Olivia has for basketball is a gift from God. Through our family’s journey we strongly held on to Romans 11:29 that states “For the gifts and calling of God are without (irrevocable) repentance”. That was the foundation of our faith. Because God said It, It was so! We also know that faith without works is dead (James 2:20)! We took the advice of a wise AAU coach and began to narrow down the schools that would be ideal for Olivia. We sent out video footages and profiles to these colleges, and received very favorable responses.

Olivia began to draw interest from colleges the summer of her 8th grade year. There were several NCAA- DI, II, III, and NAIA suitors, all expressing their desires to eventually have her as a member of their program. As we all know coaches change, philosophy’s change and so do priorities and needs. Over the next three summers of playing competitive basketball it became apparent that 5 foot point guards weren’t on anybody’s short list of “must have recruits”. One DI College in particular had all but offered her a scholarship, but after her junior season that program stopped contacting her. Were we upset, absolutely! But as parents who were educated on the business and politics of college basketball we took it as an opportunity for another program to gain an outstanding player. After sending video footage to several colleges we decided to also purchase an account with . It’s a high school sports search engine for college coaches to search and observe footage of perspective student athletes. Olivia managed the account and updated it as needed.

Though we had struggles and let downs, we can say that we have learned to count it all joy (James 1:2)! Going into her senior year rumors flared and speculations that Olivia had a lot to prove this year, considering that she was going in as an unsigned senior. One Saturday afternoon Olivia’s basketball trainer sat down with us and stated that he continued to believe in Olivia’s abilities, but he didn’t see her putting out the effort as before. When asked by her trainer, if she felt like should could play at the Division I level, without a hesitation in her voice she resoundingly said Yes!

About three weeks later Olivia was working on her game when she received a message from an assistant coach expressing great interest in Olivia hoping she was still “available”. After making contact with the coach, she was down the following week to observe Olivia in person. Southern Illinois University was very pleased. So much so they offered her a scholarship the next day. The new head coach, Missy Tiber expressed to Olivia that she ran a up tempo offense where the point guard played a significant role and that Olivia “FIT” what she was trying build. Beyond the game of basketball SIU has a history of holding the top GPA’s among their student athletes within their conference. As parents we truly believe in what it means to be a student-athlete, with Olivia being in the top 10% of her graduating class. SIU’s commitment to academic excellence weighed heavily on our choice. After an official visit two weeks later Olivia gave them a verbal, and signed a national letter of intent this past week.

As parents we see Olivia as a strong, yet silent, humble leader both on and off the court. Though her many sacrifices as being a true point guard often goes unnoticed, she has the heart of a giver as evident by her outstanding playmaking abilities. As we bring to a close the chapter of high school basketball and AAU tournaments, we prepare Olivia to move into a new era of her basketball career at the college level. Making sure she never forgets “Being confident of this very thing that he who has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ”(I Philippians 1:6), as she remains humble God will continue to exalt her in due time ( I Peter 5:6).
So what do you take from the Patterson’s journey? Write the VISION and make it plain! “For the VISION is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will SURELY come, it will not tarry” Habakkuk 2:3"

Thank you for giving us an opportunity to share our story,
The Patterson’s

Monday, November 16, 2009

CeCe signing Pic and scoring projections!

CeCe Harper is signed, sealed and delivered. The Madison guard headed into her the season as the all-time leading scorer at Madison, ending her Junior year with 1,666 points. She should easily surpass the 2,000 point mark this year and finish among the Top 3 scorers in the city's history(Meighan Simmons and Clarissa Davis the others). Not bad for a point guard!
(Side note: Boerne's Tori Talbert ranks 5th in Texas history with a total of 3,231 points)
I predict that Harper will lead San Antonio's 5A in scoring this year. She is surrounded by a young and inexperienced group and MUST score for her team to remain competitive. Two games into the season, she is averaging 21 points a game. At this pace she will end her career around 2400 points. That mark would leave her ranked in the Top 30 girls basketball scorers in the history for the state of Texas.(Britney Griner is ranked #26 with 2,424 points)

Your Help is Needed!

A tragic event has occurred to one of our own. A member of our basketball community has suffered a terrible loss this past weekend. The mother of a young girl who plays for the South Texas Hoyas was shot to death on Saturday in a domestic violence incident. I will not get into the details of the horrible incident but this young child and her sibling need our help. South Texas Hoyas coach, Theresa Nunn is spearheading a fundraising effort to help this young girl. She can be reached at

This tragedy puts the GAME of basketball in perspective. It is a GAME. Life happens and this horrible incident has happened to a beautiful young LIFE. Let us help her in a time when she needs us. We have cheered this young girl as she has grown into a wonderful basketball player. The evolution of her game has been a joy to watch. However, now is the time for our cheers to be truly heard. Now is the time for our encouragement and support to reflect our will.

Hector It Is!

Wagner standout, Len'Nique Brown has chosen to attend the University of Southern California on a full basketball scholarship. Brown made her final decision Sunday night. She is planning on signing today. Brown chose USC over Michigan State and San Diego State.

USC has commits from 3 out of the Hoopgurlz Top 100. Cassie Harberts(#11), Deisree Bradley(#35), and Thaddesia Southall(#99) all will join Brown in a great recruiting class that ushers in the Micheal Cooper era.

Congrats to the Brown Family, Wagner HS coaching staff, and TeamXpress!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Signings! and Commits!! and Offers!!!

The SA area is buzzing with excitement as signing week has ushered in a wave of emotions. Happiness abounds as girls basketball is celebrated throughout the city. Years of hard and deliberate work have culminated in the following kids having a day to remember:

Olivia Patterson (Steele HS)- Patterson signed her LOI to attend Southern Illinois University on Thursday. While ALL signings are special, this one is particularly so. Patterson caught the eye of her future college through the old way. While Patterson has played for two of the most prominent local clubs over the last two years and one of the most successful high schools in the SA area, she did not get her SIU offer through these environments. Her family used alternative means of letting the Salukis coaching know that she was worthy of a scholarship. Her story and her parents perspective will be posted here shorty. Her father is currently stationed in Korea( Thanks to all the service men and women for their sacrifices!!) and viewed the signing via a lap top.

Meighan Simmons (Steele HS)- Simmons accolades have been chronicled here frequently. She will leave the city as the all-time leading scorer but yesterday fulfilled her life long dream by signing with the University of Tennessee. Her mother followed up her signing with a mass email titled," Dreams Do Come True". Indeed!

CeCe Harper (Madison HS)- Harper will sign her letter of intent today in Madison High School's foyer at 2:30pm. Harper will ink her future with Kansas University Jayhawks and reunite with her high school teammate and friend, Monica Engleman. Harper turned down dozens of offers from others to answer the call of the Big 12 school.

Cheyenne Berry(Lytle HS-) Berry committed to Stephen F. Austin last night! Berry chose the Lumberjacks over Southeast Louisiana ,South Alabama, and Incarnate Word . Berry visited the school a couple of weeks ago and felt right at home. Berry will sign before the end of next weeks signing period. SFA is a member of the Southland Conference.

Jessica Kuster (Reagan HS)- Kuster signed with the Rice Owls yesterday. Kuster originally committed to UTA but later decided that Rice was a better fit for her. She can now concentrate on trying to earn her first district championship.

Kiante Ageous ( Sam Houston HS)- KiKi signed with the University of Arizona yesterday. Arizona is making waves in the Pac-10 with a young and aggressive coaching staff led by former Tennessee player Nia Butts. Ageous joins a long line of recent Sam Houston stand outs going on to play at the D1 level including, Tai Dillard(Texas), Sarah Miles(West Virginia) and Chanice Scott(Tulsa).

Chelsea Solis ( Wagner HS)- Solis will sign with Texas A & M Kingsville today at Wagner High School. Solis is an integral part of a team that has its eyes set on Austin.
Stephanie Wittman (Alamo Heights HS)- Wittman signed with Kansas State over SMU, Central Florida and UC Santa Barbara. Wittman's difficult journey was chronicled in a gripping piece by SA Express writer Chad Peters. Wittman's signing is truly a celebration and speaks to everything that is right about the power of girls basketball.

Ciara McLee(Judson HS)- According to her club coach, McLee has received two D1 offers in the past two days. Southeast Louisiana offered her a scholarship on Wednesday night and Texas State followed suit last night. McLee has not determined which school will gain her services but a decision should be eminent. The early signing period ends next week. Both schools are in the Southland Conference.

Len'Nique Brown (Wagner HS)- Brown has officially narrowed her choices down to USC, Michigan State and San Diego State. She is apparently using this weekend to finalize her decision. She is expected to sign on Monday.

Congrats to all the young ladies and their families! You all deserve the success it.

Parting Shot!!- In light of a disturbing trend of coaches advising players to wait to sign, I must say this. If your club coach or high school coach is advising the parents of their players to wait until the late signing period to sign in an effort to get a "bigger school" to recruit your child, here is a thought. How about asking that coach to put up the tens of thousands of dollars that it takes to get a college education as a back up plan? If these coaches are so sure that your child can hold out on valid offers to get a so-called better offer, they should not have a problem putting their money where their mouth is. As we all know, free advice can be extremely expensive!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Victoria Willems Signs!

Victoria Willems can now concentrate on having her most productive year of basketball. Her big day came in a signing ceremony at MacArthur High School yesterday. Willems signed with William and Mary on the first day of the signing period.
Willems will have the opportunity to match up against one of the best players in the nation for the three years. The University of Delaware is in the same conference as William and Mary and features the consensus #1 ranked player in the nation for the year of 2008, Elena DelleDonne. EDD originally committed to UConn but chose to return home and attend Delaware. She reportedly had 50 points in a scrimmage last week while shooting 20 for 25. Willems plays the same position and has a great opportunity in the match up.
Willems is a 6'2 forward that can hit the 17 footer with consistency. MacArthur has a new 5-Out offense that encourages her to shoot the 3-ball and use her polished face up game to score. MacArthur is expected to be a major contender for their district championship. They return the majority of their play-off team from last year.
Congrats to the Willems Family, MacArthur HS Staff, and the SA Comets Elite!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Jay banged up? Other good matchups!

Going into tonight's opening season match up against Madison, John Jay is reportedly a little banged up. Ankles sprains and pulled hamstrings have supposedly bitten the Mustangs. The Mustangs lock up with the Mavericks at 7:30 at Littleton. Some other good match ups follow:

Incarnate Word vs Marshall @ Taylor (5pm)

Judson vs Reagan @ Littleton (6pm)

Roosevelt vs Sam Houston @ ACC (6:30pm)

Boerne Champion @ Stevens (6:30pm)

Alamo Heights @ Wagner (7pm)

Smithson Valley @ NB Canyon (7:30pm)

For a complete list of tonight's games, click here:

Len'Nique Brown:California Dreamin? or Queen Leonitis?

Heading into her senior year and ready to pursue another trip to Austin, Len'Nique Brown still has some pressing concerns on her mind. Brown has the great dilemma of choosing a school that will pay for her education and allow her to continue to play basketball beyond high school. The process has reportedly been trying. Some of the leading candidates are rumored to be:

USC- Brown spent this past weekend in beautiful Southern California at an official visit with USC, the new kid on the block. The campus is a city within a huge city and recently pulled out all stops and jumped on Brown. The daughter of California Governor and action star, Arnold Schwarzenegger, attends the sprawling school which highlights the prominence of the school among the states elite. The school is in a BCS conference, a conference that has 3 teams in the Top 25 preseason polls. The new coach has never coached college basketball but has won NBA titles as a player and won a WNBA title as a coach. Michael Cooper reportedly followed up his two hour phone call to Niques' father on Thursday night with a Letter of Intent on Friday. The PAC-10, Michael Cooper and alumni base that rivals any is tough to turn down. Will she sign it?

San Diego St.- Another California school that Brown visited a month or so ago. The Aztecs just came off of a great season and the current coach has been there for years. The program is stable and nationally respected by the sports writers who gave them 78 votes in the preseason rankings. There uptempo style, near perfect weather, and coaching stability may be hard for Brown to turn down. The schools reputation as a party school will probably not deter Brown due to her focus on her basketball career. The Aztecs have also sent a letter of intent last Friday. A hint may have been what her last club coach was wearing in the gym during high school scrimmages this past weekend; a San Diego St. T-Shirt compliments of the Brown family.

Michigan St.- The Spartans are another team that is heavy in the mix for Brown. Nique and her father reportedly loved the trip to Michigan last month. Despite the freezing temperatures, the Big 1o may be the right climate for Nique. The Spartans reached the Sweet 16 last year despite a coaching staff that is relatively new. Rumor has it that Wagner Coach Christina Camacho has some friendly ties to Michigan State in some way. Michigan St. is another school that has already sent a letter of intent to be signed.

Long Shots:

UTSA- While the thought of Nique playing in a four guard offense with Judy Jones, Amber Gregg, and Whitney York is tantalizing, it probably will not happen. Though, the open offense featuring frequent pick and rolls and dribble drive actions would suit the lightning quick Brown to a T, it would be a major surprise if she stayed home to suit up for the Runners. Reportedly, the Runners have not been ruled out and an offer is on the table.

SMU- After showing out in a fall exposure event in Dallas in front of dozens of college suitors, the Browns took an unofficial to SMU before returning to SA. The campus, scenery and academic reputation of the school are pluses but they most likely will not get Brown. This school may take it the hardest if they are not chosen due to their constant pursuit of Brown for years. They apparently offered a long time before others and are asking Santa for an early Christmas gift in the form of a signed letter of intent. The problem is that Santa does not deliver in November. I think?

My prediction is... Hector! although Montezuma battles!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Win now or develop for later?

I included an article from Clay Kallam a few blogs back that expressed his opinion of a lack of personal development of a couple elite players. Kallum went on to suggest that Pat Summitt and Carl Buggs failed to develop Shyra Ely and Jasmine Dixon. I then went on to ask should development or winning be the goal in big time basketball?

First let us clarify big time basketball. Shara Ely's college coach, Pat Summitt is as big as it gets. No coach in female basketball has won more NCAA championships than Summitt(8), and only the Wizard of Westwood has won more titles than her, period. Jasmine Dixon's high school coach, Carl Buggs has owned California for the last decade. Since 2003, Buggs has lead his team to the state championship every year! I repeat, for last seven years, Buggs has lead his team to 4 state titles and 3 runner-up trophies(1 title while coaching at Lynwood). His Jack Rabbits have finished nationally ranked for the last 5 years and finished as high as #2 in 2006-2007( Jasmine Dixon years). In their respective arenas, both coaches are at the top.

This success speaks volumes of their abilities but what does it say about development? Can a lack of development in their players be blamed on them? Yes! No! And probably not!

Yes Argument:

When speaking of the importance of supporting environments for the development of elite kids, Geoff Colvin writes:

Employers, like parents and coaches, have to keep pushing them to develop, and the lesson for employers(coaches) is that the process requires sacrifices on their part as well-in the form of SUBOPTIMAL PERFORMANCE.... or periods of LITTLE or NO PRODUCTIVITY from an employee (player) while he or she is learning a new skills. But the lesson is that these sacrifices pay off."

In other words, Coach Buggs should have continued to put Dixon in positions that expanded her game. This would have ensured that she was more equipped to have success at the higher level of big time college basketball. Dixon transferred from Rutgers and landed at UCLA. The question is did her underdeveloped game contribute to her dissatisfaction at Rutgers? Probably so.

I watched a young Jasmine Dixon DOMINATE California youth basketball since her 8th grade year. She was 5'11 and built like a woman in the 8th grade. She bullied in the paint like it was her domain. She was fast enough to guard smaller players and quick enough to sprint past other post players on the way to her scores. Her dominance continued throughout her high school career as she became a McDonald's All-American. However, the highly touted Dixon began to slip in national rankings as the high school years went by. Bigger players like Nneka Ogumike and April Sykes began to get more attention. More skilled players like Elena DelleDonne and Tiffany Hayes come to the forefront. While Dixon still finished high school very acclaimed, some saw the clouds in the horizon. Dixon was a 6'0 (5'11ish) post player with an inconsistent jump shot and little ball handling skills. Her incredible strength and athletic ability still made her a force to be reckoned with but what was to happen when she faced girls with just as much strength and athletic ability? The results were predictable. Footage from her freshman year at Poly compared to her senior year footage would reveal very little progress in term of skill set development.

Carl Buggs should have not allowed Dixon to lean on her overwhelming strength as a high school player. He should have demanded that Dixon play on the perimeter to further develop her guard skills. The Dixon years at Poly featured guards April Crook-Williams(ranked #20 in 2011), April Cook(Washington St.), Keli Thomspson (UNLV),Ashley Wilson(Colorado) and Brittney Wilson(Colorado). With no less than five D1 guards to play against everyday at practice, Buggs had more than ample opportunity to let Dixon improve her guard skills against these high level guards. Dixon should have been matched up against these guards daily with the goal of improving her handle. Dixon senior year also feature elite post players, Monique Oliver(Rutgers) and freshman Thadessia Southall(USC committ). These two young but effective post players should have allowed Buggs to get Dixon out of the post and on to the perimeter.

NO Argument:

How can you argue with success? Buggs job is to win high school basketball games and very few coaches in the country has done more winning than him over the past decade. You can not blame the lack of PERSONAL development on a coach who's roster includes no less than five D1 players every year. Southern California sends on an average 50-60 players D1 every year. Buggs is responsible for at least 10% of those kids. This highly competitive environment lends little time for individual agendas. Coaching eight D1 kids on one team is challenging. The individual needs of one player can not supersede the mission of the team.

Moving Dixon to the perimeter in games does not allow the younger D1 bound guards to see valuable minutes of floor time. These young guards have put hundreds of thousand of shots and dribbles into becoming elite guards and Dixon did not. Is it not unfair to displace them for the sake of developing Dixon? Should not the best guards play, despite class, status and rank? Dixon was not among the most effective guards on the team, not to mention the state. How could Poly face a Brea team, led by McDonald All-American Jeanette Polhen or a very good Marlborough team, led by McDonald All-American Nikki Speed, with Dixon at the guard and expect to win? Going back to the Colvin quote, "Suboptimal performance and little or no productivity" from Dixon equates to Poly not competing for the state championship. The standard of a successful coach has always been measured in championships. The Wizard of Westwood and his Pyramid of Success was not so profound when he was losing at UCLA. Eleven championships later and his wisdom still sells books today by the bundle.

No, Buggs job was to win and he did just that!

So which is the more compelling argument? Yes, Jasmine Dixon was underdeveloped by a narrow minded coach? Or no, her very successful high school coach afforded her the opportunity to win multiple state championships in a very successful program?

Both statements are probably a little true. So who is the blame? Probably both, Dixon and Coach Buggs probably could have done more to develop her. Who gained more from the relationship? The gains were mutual. Dixon finished her storied high school career among the most winning players at an elite level in history and Buggs has the hardware to prove it. Dixon played with and against some of the best players in the country (rare in a high school program) and had major universities vying for her services. Buggs has had elite players like Monique Oliver move from different states to play in his program that was spearheaded by a nationally known Dixon.

Elite basketball can be a difficult place to develop players. Playing an elite schedule does not allow for a great margin of error. Errors are instrumental in allowing players to grow. A guard can never be a great passer unless she has thrown enough passes to know what not to do. A great shooter is a primarily a failure. Shooting 49% from the perimeter is cause to celebrate. Developing shooters in an environment where every possession counts is near impossible. Carl Buggs or Pat Summitt hands are somewhat tied in terms of developing in their respective environments. This makes the need for a good off-season program and choice of a club team even that more important. Shara Ely and Jasmine Dixon should have improved over the summers of their careers. They should have been with coaches, trainers, clubs and environments where their weaknesses were strengthened. Shyra Ely was developed enough to leave Tennessee as an All-American and professional pick. Tennessee went to three final fours doing her playing days. It is hard to argue with success. But, would have a more developed Ely been more equipped to lead the Vols to a title? The argument continues....