Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Quick Hitters!

Shana Holmes doing what she does!- Shana Holmes lit NB Canyon up for 40 last night. The junior guard for Southwest is having a great year and is averaging over 24 points a game. Holmes has been named the Express-News Player of the week twice this season. Here are some of Shana's scoring efforts against some of the better teams and opponents in the city:

-15 points vs #6 Clemens (Loss 59-50)
-16 points vs O'Conner (Loss 52-49)
-24 points vs Stevens (Win 43-39)
-21 points vs Roosevelt (Loss 49-40)
-23 points vs #2 Steele ( Loss 67-55)

Wagner playing for the ship'- Wagner defeated Arizona's Westview 58-24 on Monday. They then followed up that blow-out to defeat New Mexico's Gallup 57-45. They face California McKinleyville today at 3:30pm for the Purple Division title of the Nike TOC II.

Basketball Strength Training!- Stack Magazine has a wonderful book recently released focusing on strength training for Basketball players. The unique thing about this book is that it features some of the workout plans of NBA stars. Players such as Dwight Howard, Steve Nash, and Chris Paul are featured in the easy to follow book with specific training regiments that they incorporate to stay on top of their game. The book also includes the diet plans of Chauncey Billups. The detailed meal plans includes pregame and post game meals as well as workout meal plans.

The book also features advice from strength and conditioning coaches from various NBA and college programs including the Phoenix Suns Erik Phillips. Phillips has garnered a lot of praise with his workout philosophies and has been credited with helping the often injured Grant Hill stay healthy during his Suns tenure. Nash goes on to say about Phillips:

"Erik's philosophy of using corrective exercises , which help you correct deficiencies as an athlete and prevent injuries down the road, is a great baseline to set any training regiment by".

The book goes on to show various workouts that utilizes techniques using free and machine weights, foam rollers, physio balls, plyo boxes, wobble boards and others.

UTSA vs Louisiana Tech tonight!- UTSA will face Louisiana Tech tonight at 7pm. The game will feature a WNBA legend in Louisiana Tech Coach, Teresa Weatherspoon. The only player in WNBA history with 1,000 points and 1,000 assists, Weatherspoon coaches with the same intensity that she played with. During timeouts, she has little use for the diagramming board as she points, directs, chastises, encourages and schools each and every player throughout the duration of the timeout. The look on her face resembles her former forays into the paint while absorbing contact to set up her teammates for an easy score. Her lean and muscular frame screams that she IS still the best athlete in the gym. It would be a sight to see if she and UTSA's own former pro, Tai Dillard, would lace them up at halftime for an impromptu one vs one game. While observing the UTSA assistant coach, Dillard ,last month in a practice scrimmage against current players, I could not help but to notice that she can still GO!!! Hopefully the game between the college kids will be as fun as that fictional match up!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Updated State Rankings!

The TABC latest rankings have:

Pflugerville #7
Wagner #11
Jay #19

Steele #5

Lytle #12

Private Schools Large
Antonian Prep #5
Incarnate Word #8
Holy Cross #17

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Quick Hitters

- Cheyenne Berry is our Rodney Dangerfield- Lytle star and Stephan F. Austin signee, Cheyenne Berry has scored the second most points in the city this year(403) and also ranks second in scoring average(23.7). The scoring point guard has averaged over 22 points per game for her entire career.However, she has not received the attention that other elite scorers have received. The smaller 3A division that she plays in is probably the reason for slight. Here are her numbers when compared to other elite local players against a common opponent, Boerne Champion.

While Berry had 27 points in an OT win against Champion last night, here are some others:

Alexis Govan-16 point in a Loss(49-37) to Champion
Erica Donovan- 14 points in a Win (44-38) over Champion
Julissa Garrett- 13 points in a Win (44-38) over Champion
Jessica Kuster- 14 points in a Win( 46-43 over Champion
CeCe Harper- 11 points in a Loss (61-38) to Champion
Ciara Mclee- 7 points in a Loss (38-25) to Champion

I am not saying that Berry is better than these above players. In fact, I have ranked Harper, Donovan, and Kuster higher than Berry. But, I am saying that Berry is often overlooked because of her school size. Her accomplishments are unfortunately discounted. Some of these other players are fortunate enough to play with more talent than Berry. She, along with Ashley Perez, have turned a losing program into a perennial playoff team. She knocks down the pins placed in front of her and can not choose her opponents. As we see, she fares as well as any in the city when presented with like opponents. It is about time she starts to get a little respect for her gaudy numbers.

SV Beats Reagan- Wow! SV is improving and Danielle Blagg is starting to grow into those talented shoes that she has been wearing for two years. A close look at the scoring balance of SV is interesting. Four players account for 42 points ( Blagg 12.8, Ashley Bryand 11.7, Lauren jay 9 and Alison Salmon 8.5). These four players account for 90% of SV total scoring. This balanced scoring attack is proving to be a tough out for the opposition.

As good a coach that I believe Terry Barton is, the 1-2 District start by the Rattlers prove that PLAYERS WIN GAMES! The Rattlers lost two college players from their back court and an extremely physical and effective power forward from last years team.

With Reagan and Madision struggling early in District, this season will apparently have some new kids at the party.

Marquisha Sparks is Ballin!- The power guard for MacArthur is leading 5th ranked team in the city in scoring at close to 13 points a game. MacArthur has a balanced scoring attack that features at least 4 college basketball players. Sparks has added range to her jumper and continues to punish weaker guards with her physical forays to the rack.

Speaking of Mac- Nicole Kindred is apparently drawing heavy interest from East Tennessee State. The Division 1 institution plays in the Atlantic Sun. Kindred was particularly impressive versus Reagan last week. She was doing it all and showing off her new three point range. She finished with 18 points in that game.

Speaking of College- Michelle Rodriquez is taking a visit to Southeast Louisiana this weekend. The shooter from Wagner had the University of Arkansas Monticello at her game last night. Rodriguez finished with 13 in a blowout versus East Central.

Marshall standout, Jordan Collazo is also visiting Southeast Louisiana this weekend. The Division 1 school plays in the Southland Conference along with UTSA.

The University of Arkansas Monticello is also taking the time to try and woo Shana Holmes this week. The school is planning to attend the high scoring guard for Southwest next game.

Wagner in the desert- Wagner is playing in the prestigious Nike Tournament of Champions in Arizona later this month. The annual event draws a who's who of high school basketball programs. The event is one of the more attended high school events for college coaches. Confirmed teams range from Washington to Georgia and confirmed colleges in attendance will represent conferences from the huge Big East to the small West Coast Conference.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Advise from some Elite Parents!

The following information was sent to me to share from the parents of two of the best players in the city. One parent has just completed the hectic recruiting process and the other one is in the middle of it:

-"I'm reading a good book that I'm liking: "The Athletic Recruiting & Scholarship Guide" by Wayne Mazzoni. It's a basic and straight forward guide on what to do to maximize exposure. It's very good in my opinion. It's available at Amazon and is not expensive."

the other parent writes:

- "I know you probably have read or heard of the following article. I found it interesting being that as a parent of a player who has been recruited (girls basketball) the tactics are now filtering into women's sports as well. I thought this information would be a good blog for parents who need to be aware of the of the other side of the fence. Kids being commodities at a third party expense. Think about it, research it. I know for sure some parents would like to hear about this, and ensure they are understanding the dynamics of the game called recruiting and what being done about it."

Board approves basketball recruiting reforms

By Michelle Brutlag Hosick
The NCAA News

The Division I Board of Directors approved a package of proposals designed to curb compensatory relationships with people associated with men’s basketball prospects and suspend coaches who violate those rules, sending a message to the membership that the issue is a top priority for presidents.

The package received broad support from a number of constituencies, including conference commissioners, basketball coaches, the Amateur Athletic Union, the chair of the Legislative Council and other presidents.

“The process shows the NCAA at its very best: We identified a need; we brought all the players to the table – including the coaches – to build consensus and support; and we worked within the governance system for solutions,” said Board chair Jim Barker, president at Clemson.

The plan adopted by the Board takes some actions immediately and puts others into the legislative cycle to be considered by the Division I governance structure.
The immediate actions include a tighter definition of a “recruited student-athlete” in men’s basketball to include anyone who has received recruiting materials or had any recruiting contact with a coaching staff member or was asked to attend an institutional camp or enroll at an institution. The Board also immediately adopted a series of interpretations meant to eliminate the funneling of money to people associated with prospects through:

-Employment relating to non-coaching staff positions

-Employment at camps and clinics

-Payment of consulting fees

-Subscriptions to recruiting services with limited value

-Donations to nonprofits

-1-900 numbers for telephone contact with a recruit. .

.....These proposals target:

-Noncoaching staff hiring practices by prohibiting institutions from hiring as noncoaching personnel individuals associated with prospects two years before or after the prospect’s actual or anticipated enrollment. The legislation is intended to offer coaches a choice between recruiting the prospect and hiring the person associated with the prospect. EMPLOYMENT LAWS?

-Institutional camp/clinic employment by allowing institutions to hire only its own staff members or enrolled students at its camps and clinics.

-Institutional camp operation by allowing recruiting during institutional camps, and stating that prospects do not have to leave the locale to begin an unofficial visit.

-Nonscholastic events on campus by prohibiting Division I institutions from hosting, sponsoring or conducting nonscholastic men’s basketball events on campus or in facilities regularly used by the institution.

-Payment of consulting fees by prohibiting fees to individuals associated with a prospect.

While the proposals deal specifically with men’s basketball, several presidents indicated a desire to keep an eye on the recruiting environment in other sports as well – especially football and women’s basketball – to see if similar action is necessary in those sports.

The Legislative Council will review and cast initial votes on the proposals the Board entered into the regular legislative cycle at its meeting at the 2010 NCAA Convention in January.
The proposal also referred several issues to the various cabinets and committees in the governance structure, including changes to the recruiting calendar, tryouts and communication with prospects.

The above legislation will have a huge impact on basketball recruiting. I wrote a piece on the changes from my perspective when the bill was passed but did not post it. What ramifications and how recruiting will change is still up for debate. However, it will certainly change. An outspoken voice of opposition for the new rules is Mike Flynn. Please visit his very informative and influential site to get the other side of the coin.

Respect for a Good Coach!

The following was sent by a local coach about the Floresveille coach and program following the impressive showing in the South San tournament this past weekend. Floresville beat San Antonio's Top 10 ranked Antonian for the championship. I found the correspondence interesting because I was informed of how good Greg McWilliams was as a coach and a person by different coach last week. The conversation touched on the fact that McWilliams is a very good and underrated coach in the region and would get more respect at a higher profile school. Apparently, he has many admirers. The email follows:

-The Floresville girls team has the BEST pre-game warm-up I've ever seen since I've been coaching (8 years)! Reason being, because it is on another level with their INTENSITY. The assistant coaches/managers are out there so the girls can block them out on a drill,or for a defensive decoy, or to be a passer, all while they are still MOTIVATING the girls. The drills they do are very disciplined and you feel like you're watching an actual PRACTICE (you practice the way you play)because of how hard they are going!...and they go JUST AS HARD in the game!

-At halftime, while other teams are WALKING out of the locker room, this team SPRINTS out of the locker room and continues to run sideways sprints for 2 minutes all the way up until game time!

-The players on the bench repeat EVERYTHING the coach if he calls out a defense such as "2-3!" ,the girls on the bench will immediately follow like parrots, screaming "2-3!", if he calls an offense, inbounds play, sideline play, you name it...they repeat it...COMMUNICATION!!!

-During Timeouts, all people on the bench, including coaches/managers are required to stand, even on a 30-sec timeout...during full timeouts, the players on the bench and asst. coaches form an arm weaving half moon around the coach (symbolizing unity), while the players on the court are sitting and the coach is bent down below the half moon discussing their next move!

-Each time they substitute, they hand each other a rope or what looked like it, (which reminded me of when I was in school,we used to do the same thing, we had this inspirational piece called HOLD THE ROPE, which meant if one person lets go of the rope, we all FALL!)So I'm assuming the rope was symbolic...if it was,LOVED IT!

-I LOVE THIS COACH! When they won the tournament, and they were being awarded with their trophy, the coach took a backseat, and let his girls have the spotlight. He was just sitting back(literally) watching his players' hard work pay off like a proud papa! The way his program was in both of the games I watched made me want to see more of their games!

-Another reason I wanted to see more, was a player named Erica Hernandez...or #13 as I remember her! She is a killer! Her team won the Tournament Championship, and she was their MVP,literally! She was extremely savvy, and had many weapons in her arsenal! She can shoot the three...wait, let me rephrase that, she can KILL you from the three...if you take away the three, she can shoot the mid-range jumper...if you try close out on her, she will punish you off the dribble! In transition, she's UNSTOPPABLE!!!...while the other team is celebrating a bucket by JOGGING back...all you hear from the stands is "WHO HAS #13!?!?"...which of course is too late every time because by the time the players hear it, she already scored and is running back on defense! She shows no emotion, she just goes to work!

-In all, I am just very impressed with the coach, the Floresville girls' basketball program, and #13...they are ALL of a reflection of each other,... and a GREAT one I might add!

Saturday, December 12, 2009


A local dad writes:


Two of the better teams in San Antonio matched up in New Braunfels on Friday night. The result was a New Braunfels win against MacArthur. What you do not see in the box score is the painful way in which the game developed. Going to the dentist would have been about as much fun. There was absolutely no flow to this game. Both teams were in the bonus in the first and third quarters and in the double bonus by the beginning of the second and fourth quarters. MacArthur had more fouls in the first half than they did points. They also had three players foul out of the game. Now for you cynics (for which I am one) out there who are thinking, I bet you this is a Mac parent who is just upset at the outcome of the game, and is going to blame the refs for the loss. You would be half right. I am a Mac Dad, but even if the refs had let us play the game, on this night New Braunfels was probably the better team. What I am arguing is that why are we watching the referees perform instead of our kids. I have watched several girls’ high school games this year, and over and over I see the refs controlling the flow of the game. The constant travel calls, the constant jump balls, the ticky tack fouls that are being called. Give us break, we just want to watch our kids play basketball.

It was argued in this blog that we are seeing way to many zone defenses being played, instead of man. I for one would whole heartedly agree with that assessment. However, I would have to argue that because of the way these games are being called, the coaches have no choice to play zone in many cases, if they want to protect their players from sitting next to them in foul trouble. Now for those of us that have played club ball in Houston, and know the reputation of that city’s refs. Where basically it has to be a felony before it is called a foul. I am not advocating we go to that extreme, I am just saying the refs need to figure out that brushing against a player is not a foul, and tough hard nosed man defense is an art form, not something that should be penalized. How many anticipated calls do we get against the big girls? Many times the whistle has blown for a foul on blocked shots before player contact. If the ball is in the stands, chances are pretty good that was not a foul.

If you watch a boy’s varsity game here in San Antonio, for the most part they let them bang pretty hard before calling anything. Why aren’t we letting the girls mix it up? Watch a boy’s game; you will not see all the silly traveling calls. They let them be athletic. Why can’t the girls show some athleticism? Watch a boy’s game and you will not see all the constant jump balls, and anticipated jump ball situations. The boys are able to show their strength and conditioning by letting them rip the ball from their opponent. Why do we keep protecting the girl’s from seeing who is the stronger athlete? That is probably why boy’s games here in town attract the casual fan instead of just the family members at the girl’s game.

Nothing is more enjoyable than a well played, well coached game. Even if your team loses it is still great fun to have the seen kids from both teams perform well on the athletic stage. Here is hoping we can consistently get back to that standard, instead of the officials of the game making it about them, instead of the kids.

Quick Shots!!!

Some quick hitters from the past week follow:

A Shootout at South San Tournament- When Southwest played Holy Cross on Thursday night, a old fashioned gun fight erupted. Southwest's Shana Holmes and Holy Cross' Jackie Woods went to the hip and let em' fly. The high scoring guards both ended up with 40 points in the battle. Southwest won 65-60. Both Woods, Saint Mary commit, and Holmes have a few things in common. They both are small in stature, are probably under rated and are among the best scorers in this city. However their playing styles are different. While both can hit the open three and penetrate to score, Woods is smooth and measured. Holmes is track star fast. Woods is a lefty that rarely goes right while Holmes is right handed and seldomly goes left. Woods looks unassuming and blase' while Holmes is built like a muscle car with arms and legs that go from 0 to 60 in seconds. Whatever similarities or differences these two may have, they both are synonymous with GETTING BUCKETS!

Kiara Taylor is huge for Jay- The Jay match up with Wagner at the Lone Star event last weekend showed the importance of Kiki Taylor for Jay. Taylor is one of the better defenders in the city and gave a valiant effort guarding Len'Nique Brown. However, her biggest contribution may be hitting big threes when needed as witnessed by Jay's overtime defeat to Wagner in their first meeting this season. Taylor chipped in 12 points in that meeting. While all-city first teamers, Erica Donovan and Julissa Garrett are the backbone of the Mustangs, Taylor will be key in their attempt to reach Austin.

SV Beats Roosevelt- Smithson Valley shocked Roosevelt on a game winning shot by the very talented Danielle Blagg. SV had the Rough riders down 17-2 at the end of the first quarter. SV is off to a good start with the arrival of a new coach, former Texas guard Angie Hermesmeyer, and a maturing line up. they are 9-4 overall and 2-0 in district.

26-5A- The team to beat in 26-5A looks like New Braunfels, who beat MacArthur by 16 last night in district play.

In love again!

That is what I am talking about! Referees getting booed! Daddies coaching from the stands and mamas acting like cheerleaders. A few local ministers and church deacons on Sunday acting up on Friday night. Fans filling the bleachers and talking crazy. "That girl is busting three's in their face", says one little boy leaving the gym as I arrive late in the first quarter. He was mimicking the girl who was busting threes as it rained on his bald uncovered head. I already knew he was not alone in his excitement as I walked seemingly forever across the crowded parking lot to the gym. I was like a kid myself. The two currently top ranked teams in the city, going at it, in an on-campus gym. The rain could not dampen the mood of everyone in attendance. The atmosphere mixed with these caliber of players and the style of play made this one to remember. In the end, Wagner prevailed 55-47.

The first thing you notice when these teams are on the floor is all the talent. Besides talent, the athleticism is special. At one time on the floor, the ten players were: Len'Nique Brown, Arielle Roberson, Ebony Watkins, Ashley Catlett, and Chelsea Solis. Now that is probably as athletic as San Antonio gets until you see Meighan Simmons, Olivia Patterson, Elena Gumbs, Taylor Calvert and Destinee Showell matched up against them. Some game observations follow:

Speed Kills- The Steele back court of Simmons, Patterson and Gumbs is ridiculously fast. They hounded Len'Nique the entire game. Gumbs feet are as fast as any in the city laterally. Only the occasional crossing of her feet allows offensive players to beat her off of the dribble. Those occasions are rare as she and Patterson are like piranhas when attacking ball handlers. Patterson has always been one of the better on-ball defenders in the city. My impressionable daughter marvels repeatedly at the size and stature of Patterson's arms, she is yoked. All this on ball pressure allows Simmons to lay back in wait and read passing lanes. She is the predator allowing her partners to chase prey into her clutches.

Street Ballers- Wagner has three players that have undoubtedly honed their skills playing street ball. Chelsea Solis, Ashley Cattlett and Ebony Watkins all have a flare for the game. All three players bring excitement to the game with impromptu plays that probably make Coach Camacho cringe at times. These players PLAY! Ebony Watkins can be a star in this city if she wants to be. She is long at 6'0, with a decent handle and an attitude that believes she is capable. Her presence was huge last night. She allowed Len'Nique to play off of the ball a few times during a crucial stretch and scored 4 points during that time. Catlett is one of my favorite players. She is tough and fearless. She is the vocal leader of the T-Birds. Her 6 second half points were huge but one score was particularly nice. She was matched up with Simmons on the left baseline as the T-birds were mounting a comeback. She faked a pass and exploded with a cross step move going baseline. With two dribbles, she was at the rim making an unorthodox layup with her strong hand on the weak side over the outstretched hands of a jumping Simmons. Not text book but very effective and very street! I have said it before and must repeat it again, with Watkins and Catlett available playing for Wagner last year, they beat Pflugerville in the playoffs.. Their athleticism evens the score in that game.

Uncle Mo(mentum)- I was always instilled with the old maxim that "Basketball is a game of runs". This game proved the truth in that statement. At the end of the 3rd quarter the score was 39-33 Steele. Simmons came out immediately and scored on a beautiful hanging lay up. Score 41-33, Steele. Wagner then preceded to go on a 16-2 run! When Coach Wallace called a timeout to stop the bleeding, her squad was down 49-41. Steele was limited to 4 points in the first six minutes of the 4th quarter. During this onslaught, Arielle Roberson went to work. She scored 9 points during this period. In fact, Roberson outscored the entire Steele team, 9-8 in the 4th quarter.

Getting Defensive- This game was so exciting to watch as both teams played man defense for the majority of the game. Fans were treated to great basketball plays by individuals. We also got a chance to see how athletic and tenacious the defenders were. We had the opportunity to see Ashley Catlett guarding Olivia Patterson at half court. We got a chance to see Len'Nique Brown take on the challenge of denying Meighan Simmons on the wing. The sight of the Taylor Calvert fighting to front Arielle Roberson was reminincent of a rodeo rider trying to stay on awnry bull. Calvert did not back down. This was what everyone was here to see. Two teams going at it and challenging each other mano a mano. Or mija to mija. Or whatever! They were Balling! Then Camacho flipped the switch and showed while she runs this town like Jay-Z and Rhianna record. She went to a 3/4 court, 1-2-2 zone that pushed the efficient Patterson to one side of the floor and away from Simmons. She put the extremely long Watkins at the top of the aggressive zone and changed the game. She kept the lightning quick back court of Patterson and Gumbs out of the paint. The length and speed of the extended zone made it hard for the smaller guards for Steele to get uncontested looks.

Stars will be Stars- The games most heralded players played as such. Meighan Simmons was the reason for the outburst from the hyper little boy "busting" threes like her in the rain at the beginning of the game. She reportedly came out in fire. She reportedly scored the first 7 points for Steele. In fact, one text I received while on the way to the game read the score for the game was 7-2 Simmons over Wagner. She then went on the score the first 12 out 14 points. Simmons hits threes from 25 feet, jumped in passing lanes and double pumped layups for scores. She was simply Meighan Simmons. She finish with 25 points.

Len'Nique Brown was Chris Paul-ish last night. She was pressured all night by the speedy Gumbs and Patterson. She guarded Simmons throughout the 2nd half. She facilitated and scored when needed. Len'Nique kept her team in it during the first half when Steele and Simmons went on a their run. Brown touched the paint whenever she wanted to. One particular sequence in the first half saw Brown score 6 points in less than 40 seconds. One of the scores was a slicing layup that saw Brown break her defender down with an in and out dribble move at the top of the key and hit the gap like a running back. She took off from a two feet jump and completed a slide layup in traffic. The beautiful thing was that she jumped and let the defender come down while she windmilled the layup in. Another shot has come to define Len'Nique. She drove hard going left and Patterson was there step for step. Brown then raised up in the air for a runner off of the glass from the middle of the key. The shot is distinct because most runners do not go against the grain. Her immediate and explosive elevation makes the shot hard to guard. She finished with 14 points and numerous assists.

Arielle Roberson was the deciding factor. Her inside presence was key. She finished with 16 points but blocked or changed a lot of shots. Her rebounding was instrumental but her ability to help relieve pressure by handling the ball on the perimeter is overlooked. She is the tallest and longest kid on the floor but her skill set is allowing her to spread the floor and increase driving lanes for her teammates. The big lefty is making sense of her body and is getting to be very good!

In conclusion, I am in LOVE again! I complained about the style of play that led to uninspired games earlier this week. I must applaud Coach Wallace and Coach Camacho for letting the girls play. They realized that the playoffs and state tournament would have teams that resembled last nights' game and this was a great warm up for that eventual stage. They both have a legitimate shot at going back to Austin in early March. What a game! What a crowd! The talent was refreshing!!! The only bad thing was that it did not go into overtime.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Best fans!

I received the following email a couple of weeks ago and thought it would be good to post. Anytime enthusiastic kids come out to support girls basketball is a plus. It follows:

On a recent Tuesday I had the honor to witness the best High School fans in Texas during the Smithson Valley vs. Kerrville Tivy Girls Varsity game. I've been to many Middle School and High School games both in California and Texas and have NEVER witness this type of enthusiasm for High School girls basketball, not even during the playoffs.

Let me start out by painting the picture. A small school out in the middle of nowhere, Kerrville, Tivy High School, grounds are manicured nicely, outside painted nicely, inside halls are nicely painted and no graffiti to frown at, just a small town that you would love to raise your children in. Then you walk into this gymnasium, they call themselves the Antlers, with brand new hardwood flooring, there is no resistance abiding by the annoying sign that screams, "NO FOOD, NO DRINKS in the Gym". As you walk into the gym you get startled by the Antlers busting out of the wall, and busting out of the gym floor, such a mural sure to intimidate any visiting team. The gym has seating on both sides of the court and you can't miss the schools name engraved in yellow on perfectly placed seats across the way "TIVY".

Now that you have a picture of this beautiful gym let me tell you about the most impressive part. On the far end of the court they strategically placed a student section. It can probably hold 100 students. I attended the Smithson Valley game and about 35 young high school students, mostly boys, came out to support their Varsity girls basketball team,a wonderful site to say the least. Let me tell you it was a treat! They held signs, they chanted, they stomped their feet, and I don't even think they sat down for a second! It reminded me of Cameron Stadium, no joke! The boys start out by making a distinctive sound every time SV dribbled the ball (pweeee pweeee pweeee pweeeee pweeee) and another sound when SV would pass the ball (whewwwwww, whewwwwww, whewwwww, whewww) it was so contagious that they had my 9 year old doing it. Forget about free throws for SV my ears are still ringing from that. These boys where not just trying to be annoying to the opponent they where actually following the game. In a early SV position, in the second quarter, SV's point guard took a shot from about 18 ft and it was tipped and did not hit rim, "air ball", well it really wasn't an air ball due to the tip but to these enthusiastic "Cheer Leaders" it was an "AIR BALL". So now you can imagine what these boys did for the rest of the game when SV's PG touched ball, oh yes, they chanted "AIR BALL...AIR BALL AIR BALL the entire time she had the ball in her hand and when I tell you the ENTIRE time, I mean the ENTIRE TIME. It didn't matter if she was 80 ft from the basket or 2 ft from the basket...... let me tell you this arena is not for the mentally week! I urge all you basketball enthusiast to take the time and witness this spectacle, I plan on returning!

Monday, December 7, 2009

I have yet to see a "Man" game this year!

I was so glad when my child became too old for the younger divisions of YMCA basketball. You know the division where they put the little yellow dots on the floor indicating where the children should run to on defense. The yellow dots are placed in a 2-1-2 zone alignment and the kids are obligated to stay in those spots.

Two years ago my child was still in that age group and playing on a undefeated team. They beat everybody badly. I will say that my child had little to do with the success(point production) of that team. She was a robot, just running to the designated spots. I would yell "put your hands up sweetie", while my stomach ached while watching this charade. The major reasons for her teams' success were two girls named Vanessa and Isis. They both were aggressive and bent the rules a little bit. Some would say they cheated. These too aggressive young girls would leave their RESTRICTED areas and go and steal the ball away from hapless dribblers. Isis was especially good at recognizing a good opportunity to ever so slightly leave her robot zone and jump on unproficient ball handlers. The referee would warn her but she got away with enough of these "illegal" actions to earn a few breakaway layups in transition every game. The final score would resemble something like 8-2 or 14-3.

The YMCA does great things by providing a place for our youngsters to get introduced to this great game. I think a major reason for the robot dots are to balance the playing field and instill some structure. However, what about the high school level? Why are we still using the robot dots to restrict players? While the reasoning behind the restriction of players is not the same as in YMCA ball, the environment is still crippling good basketball players. Our high school Isis' are still being held back by restrictive environments. But, I truly understand why.

High school basketball coaches are paid to win games. They inevitably help instill lifelong lessons of leadership, responsibility, perseverance, dedication, etc.; but teachers, counselors,clergy, and parents probably instill those principles better than most coaches. Coaches get paid to put their programs in the position to succeed. They are not supposed to teach at the expense of victory. They are not obligated to prepare kids for the collegiate level by ensuring their systems reflect the demands and expectations of the collegiate level. At least at high school girls level these things seem to be true. However, the prevalence of Zone defenses are hurting us on a state and national stage. Some thoughts follow:

- High School Coaches/Teachers?- While club coaches bare a huge responsibility in teaching Man defense, the fact remains that high school coaches have more time with players than any other coach. Girls basketball players attend athletic periods for at least one hour a day for 180 days of school. Add 3 days of 2 hours after school practices for 5 months for a total of 120 hours. Athletic periods with addition to practice time provides at least 300 hours of TEACHING TIME for high school coaches. A club coach practicing year around twice a week for two hours would still have players approximately 100 less hours than high school coaches. Is this not enough time to teach players how to play man defense?

- Girls do not play unstructured ball- Seldomly will you find a group of girls playing a game of 21 or pick up ball. In these unorganized environments, rarely will you find someone playing a zone. In a good pick up game, you guard your "man" and prevent him/her from scoring. In competitive games where losers sit and wait to play again, guarding your "man" becomes extremely important. If your "man" has his/her way with you and scores at will, you will find yourself increasing ostracized as a defensive liability. The urgency to defend your "man" and not give up buckets does wonders in establishing a mindset to play defense. Pride is instilled and competitiveness is enhanced. The lack of girls in these type of games amplifies the need for "man" defense to be honed elsewhere.

- No Shot Clock- The lack of a shot clock allows for less talented teams to stay in games. In essence, this rewards undedictaed players. Playing zone defense primarily in a state with no shot clock really restricts individual growth. Watching teams run one minute off of the clock while playing catch on the perimeter, while the defense is packed in the paint in zone formation is like watching paint dry. Besides inaction, this penalizes the kid who is elite. She has worked harder than most but her offensive touches are limited due to teams milking the clock and her coach not allowing her to press the action. Like young Isis, she just guards her area and "breaks the rules" if she leaves her dot and messes with her coaches master plan. Never mind that her coaches' master plan and the lack of a shot clock is disadvantageous to her excelling at the next level.

- Boring!!!- Comalander Stadium is hopping with excitement in September. Fans pack the bleachers and school spirit abounds. Fast forward to early December and on the same grounds, Blossom gym is empty. The only attendees are 50 or so parents for both teams and a handful of fans. One of the main reasons for the empty gyms is that all the zone defenses make the game boring and hard to watch. I recently watched a game featuring two of the best teams in San Antonio and the final score was a whopping 31-28!!! A YMCA-like score all over again!!! Less than a point a minute for two of the best teams our city has to offer. Of course both teams zoned the entire game. Cheering the occasional three pointer is fine but the game is still tough to watch. The majority of the scoring comes from three point shots or free throws. The free throws are a result of kids finally having to move their feet on defense and fouling. They are not prepared to stay in front of players on defense so they inevitably foul when put in those situations. The clock stops, then comes more zone and more time to watch the paint dry.

-Preparation- Can our local players play in a Rutgers styled match up zone. When Rutgers played Florida the other night, I found it amusing how the announcers had a challenging time naming the type of defense that Rutgers was in. At times it resembled a 1-3-1 zone but morphed into a 3-2 then into a 2-3 and always ended up at a variation of man. This match up zone exemplifies the need for our local kids to get better preparation at the high school level. Most zones at the competitive level turns into a match-up zone with man principles. Take UTSA's recent loss to University of Houston. The Roadrunners had trouble stopping the high scoring guards of the Cougars so they incorporated an inverted triangle and two. The defense had elements of a zone that eventually matched up into a man while two defenders constantly chased and denied the primary scorers. These advanced scouting reports and defensive assignments/strategies can not be executed with players who have only been taught to play in zone defenses in local high schools.

I had one coach argue that San Antonio schools can not play man and compete with other schools in the state because of athleticism, or lack there of. I argue the opposite. If San Antonio kids were taught to play "man" at a young age, they would be more prepared to compete with the other schools in the state. It is not like we are defeating these schools in the state tournament anyway. I am not advocating not utilizing a zone every now and then but to make it your primary defense at such an critical learning period is contrary to teaching. In fact, it is coaching or managing with the resources that have been given. That is fine at the Major League Baseball level but shouldn't coaches still teach?

Traveling throughout the country this summer I found it interesting to see some of the best man defense being played in areas like rural Indiana, Oklahoma and Kansas. These areas are not commonly associated with great athleticism. However, they are known for having great coaching/teaching. I thought I was done with the days of dots and robots. How foolish of me!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

New Scoring Queen! And 2,000 point club!

-Meighan Simmons became the all-time scoring leader for the city of San Antonio last night in the Floresville Championship game. The scoring machine from Steele broke the long standing city record of San Antonio great, Clarissa Davis(Wrightsil). The Tennessee signee is well on her way to becoming a member of the exclusive 3,000 point club. Simmons has a legitimate chance of finishing in the Top 5 scorers in Texas History. Former Boerne player, Tori Tolbert, is currently ranked fifth all-time with 3,231 points. Simmons needs to average approximately 23 points a game to crack the Top 5. (Based on a 35 game schedule)

- CeCe Harper needs exactly 5 points to reach the 2,000 point plateau. The 2,000 point mark will be a remarkable feat for the pass first point guard. The Kansas bound Maverick will undoubtedly reach the mark on Tuesday against Roosevelt. Harper is currently averaging 22 points a game with 17 more games on the schedule. If she is able to continue at this pace, she will finish around 2369 points and in the Top 30 in Texas history. ( Former Shallowater star, Johnna Pointer currently ranks #27 with 2,362 points)

These two players are a major reason why the city of San Antonio is garnering more respect on the national scene. Congrats young ladies!

Friendly Foes!

Wagner Coach, Tina Camacho, and Jay Coach, Mike Floyd ,talk shop before the eventual championship game matchup in the Lone Star Invitational. Wagner triumphed 41-34 in another great game between the best two teams in the city.

What many readers may not know is that Coach Floyd is a former coach at UTSA. While coaching for the Roadrunners, the young energetic coach recruited an even younger high school kid named Andrea Christina Camacho.