Friday, April 2, 2010

Never Broken?

Meighan Simmons has been the topic of many of the blogs on this site. Still, a case must be made that her scoring record(over 3400 points) may stand for as long as the last scoring record; a quarter of a century. Here is why:

1. Player- Meighan Simmons is a unique basketball player. Her blend of athleticism and skill allow her to do things only most kids dream about. While it's arguable that other recent San Antonio area players(Len'Nique Brown, CeCe Harper, Sarah Miles, Cassie Peoples) are as good as Meighan, it is undeniable that her knack for scoring is unrivaled.

Witness the McDonald's All-American game in which she earned Co-MVP. Simmons came off of the bench and forgot to "play herself into a groove". She came out gunnin! A few short minutes after entering the game, Simmons was the games leading scorer with 10 points. She was stuck on the same 10 points with around 5 minutes to go in the game. That did not stop her from scoring a game high 21 points in less than 15 minutes of playing time. Simmons scoring prowess can be attributed to her attitude!

2. Attitude- After moving to the girls side of the game a years ago, I discovered an interesting problem that plagues girls basketball; "Playing down to competition". I am not insinuating that boys never have this problem. Many boys/men's teams have been upset due to taking an opponent lightly. However, I find this occurrence a lot more prevalent on the girls side of basketball. But, not with Meighan Simmons.

Simmons has played a good majority of her high school games against teams/players that pale in comparison to her team and her ability. That did not stop Meighan from "Doing Meighan". She practically outscored opposing teams at times by herself ( I am not saying she did not have help. I am saying her final scoring total eclipsed opposing teams at times). This stubborn willingness to demand the best from herself despite playing inferior competition is uncommon. Others find it cruel.

San Antonio great Clarissa Davis-Wrightsil scored 75 points in one game during high school. Her high school coach, Mike Floyd explained to me how he orchestrated the feet by instructing all his players to not shoot and only pass it to Davis. Davis was not in on the plan and only found out during the flow of the game. The final result was a blowout for John Jay with the great young Davis scoring 75 points against a hapless opponent. The game is historic for a few of reasons. One is that a kid was gifted enough to score 75 points in a game. An other reason is that Davis had a coach who was willing to allow her to do what she could do. And lastly, the feet is remarkable because Davis had enough "killer instinct" to do it without feeling sorry for the competition and let up. Other basketball greats with the same "killer instincts" include Lisa Leslie( 100 points at halftime in a HS Game), Cheryl Miller(105 points) and Epiphanny Prince( 113 points)

I recently read the complaints of a ' victimized' parent complaining that Simmons was still in the game of a blowout win. The commenter went on the criticize Simmons and her coach for a lack of class. This is the type of mindset that breeds mediocrity. High School sports has become an investment for many. The Simmons family have poured time and financial resources into helping Meighan achieve her dreams of earning a scholarship and being the best basketball player that she can be. If Meighan plays down to competition and is sitting on the bench during every blowout, she does not become the leading scorer in SA history, she does not matriculate to Tennessee and she does not score 21 points in 15 minutes at the MacDonald's All-American game. Her coach deserves a lot of credit too.

3.Coach- Kari Wallace is the luckiest coach in the city. She was chosen to take over a new school. Expectations are low for most new schools but not this one. She just so happen to inherit the most dynamic young scorer in San Antonio. Coach Wallace could have came in with her best Bobby Knight impression and demanded a motion offense that emphasized ball movement. Instead, she did her best Geno Auriemma impression and let her star be a star. As Geno said, "... we have Diana (Tuarasi) and nobody else does". Wallace realized early that Simmons was her Diana and she was going to let her shine. The results are well documented with three State trips in four years.

While Wallace is lucky, so is Simmons. Or as the Simmons family would say, she is blessed. Blessed to have a coach that let her miss thousands off shots and make hundreds of turnovers. I have a philosophy that goes "No one goes 12 for 20 without first going 2 for 20" . Wallace lived through those 2 for 20 games with Simmons and reaped the rewards of the eventual 12 for 20 days. Wallace understood that while many players can consistently go 2 for 20, very few players could routinely go 12 for 20. It's easy to say that any right-minded coach would do the same with such a talented kid, to which I would reply, untrue. I can think of a local coach who has two talented heavily recruited Division 1 players on his team currently and constantly holds them back as he proves that he is the next John Wooden. Wallace deserves a lot of credit in aiding the rise of Meighan Simmons. She also deserves a lot of credit for having the courage to take the criticism that accompanies allowing a kid to break scoring records. Another who helped propel Simmons is Olivia Patterson.

4.Point Guard- Simmons has played almost every high school game with a Division 1 point guard. Patterson is an old school point guard who is content to run the offense and lock up opposing players defensively. While every Division 1 player has some sort of ego, Patterson has put the needs of her team in front of personal accolades. While it is true that most pure point guards would love to play with a scoring machine like Simmons, most of them would have problems with all that surrounds Simmons. Having the self assurance to know that she was an integral part of a team that is billed as "Meighan Simmons and Cast" is what separates Patterson from most. Scorers get praise and facilitators get overlooked. However, it is the facilitators that allow scorers the opportunities to score.

Simmons will undoubtedly play some point guard in college. At 5'9 in shoes, she will also have to guard opposing point guard in the SEC. Simmons did not have to worry about chasing the quickest and most skilled player on the opposing team in high school as that duty fell on Patterson. Simmons did not have to worry herself with remembering if her post players had not touched the ball in a number of possessions, or changing a particular set that was being defended well. Patterson held down those responsibilities. Having a point guard who shouldered a lot of the managerial burdens of leading a team allowed Simmons' freedom. While it is true that Patterson benefited tremendously, like Wallace, of playing with Simmons, her contribution to the scoring record is substantial.( Patterson is the only D1 player in the city to never have been the focal point of a Box and 1 Defense).

5. Playoffs- Any player trying to break Simmons mark will have to play on a team that routinely has deep play off runs. Simmons has played in 20 or so more games than the average high school player. She has led her Steele team to state in the last three years. In those 3 years, she has played in 15-18 extra games. These extra games are crucial in racking up points. These extra games have given Simmons the equivalent to half of a full high school season. In a typical high school season of 35 games, a player will have to average over 24 points a game for 4 years to score 3400 points.

The prefect storm of a uniquely talented player, having the killer instinct, while playing for a supportive coach and an unselfish point guard, on a wildly successful team is what it will take to break Simmons scoring mark. Good Luck!!!