Monday, November 29, 2010

Random Thoughts/Observations!

-In a recent conversation with the director of one of the best club programs in the country, I asked about "skill set degeneration" of some players during the high school season. I questioned him about this because I have observed a lot of kids looking worse as the season progresses. One of the reasons for this may be that during the 15 hours of instruction time that high school coaches have with their players per week(2 hours of practice and 1 hour of athletic period), not many hours are dedicated to individual skill set development. Team concepts and basketball IQ are mostly covered in these practices. The club director went on to say that his club has voluntary skill set sessions for all of the 100 or so kids in his program during the high school season. I then asked how many of his high school kids attend. He replied "Not many, Only the elite ones like.......No more than a handful". Three of the players he mentioned are ranked in the Top 50 of their respective classes nationally and one of them is a consensus Top 5 kid with offers from EVERYBODY. I then asked why so many of the others chose not to take advantage of the skill set sessions. He replied " Lazy, they are lazy and the great ones are not". This comes from a man that directs a club that has had over 100 kids play at the D1 level including numerous McDonald All-Americans and a few pro players.

- In watching All-Access practices of the University of Connecticut with Geno Auriemma, I was delighted at how much of the practices was devoted to individual skill set development. Even in his offensive breakdown drills, Coach Auriemma and his staff are extremely focused on details and doing things the right way. This constant development and focus on details has his squad chasing the UCLA men's record of 88 consecutive wins in a row.

- I am not a big fan of "permanent pivot foot". I prefer to catch on two and have the option to jab step or pivot with either foot based on the defender positioning and close out angle. However, many great basketball minds advocate the permanent pivot foot. Kobe Bryant almost always uses a permanent pivot foot. Being right handed, his permanent pivot foot is the left foot. Watching basketball the past couple of weeks, I am shocked at how many kids use the wrong permanent pivot foot every time when shooting. Right handed players shooting with the right foot as the permanent pivot foot is not sound fundamentally.

- In a recent blog by Brian McCormick, he goes on to state that the almost every recent American Olympic wrestling champion was raised on a farm. The theory is that the farm environment lends itself to building strong wrestlers with functioning strength at an earlier age. Farm kids complete chores that build complete body strength as opposed to just weight lifting of the city kids. This reminds me of a friend and fellow trainer who has a theory of why so many kids suffer major injuries compared to the old days. He goes on to say that the modern athlete did not cross train as a kid like older players did. Older generations had kids riding bikes, climbing and jumping out of trees. Older players raced each other in the street, sometimes in socks or with bare feet. Older players learned to cut by playing dodge ball and tag. All these outdoor games built auxiliary muscles that aided in the prevention of major injuries. At least that's how his theory goes. Now current players spend their time as kids texting and playing video games.

- This "new" player is discussed by the great Bob Hurley on one of his many instructional DVDs(a must have for all coaches). Coach Hurley states that todays player is no longer just "a boy, a ball and a dream". He laments the fact that the only time that players pick up a ball today is in an organized setting. After hearing this, I immediately thought about Baylor Coach, Kim Mulkey. Coach Mulkey has a picture of her in her biography," Never Back Down"(a must read) in her back yard dribbling a basketball. Coach Mulkey's sister goes on to explain in the book that Mulkey was never one to party or paint the town and if you wanted to find her, you could always find her at home working on her game.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Pro Hop is not a travel!!

Watching San Antonio female basketball players get called for travelling violations for executing proper Pro Hops is disheartening. Whether you call it a Pro Hop or Broad Jump, it is nothing more than a Jump Stop. The Jump Stop is the most fundamental play in the game.

All us old heads were raised on the jump stop. My high school coach mandated that his guards not over penetrate and stop at the free throw line on most all fast breaks. He drilled the point guards in advancing the ball in the middle of the court. The wings would fill the lanes wide. The guard would then execute a sound jump stop and pass, most of the time a bounce pass, to one of the wings filling the lanes. The jump stop followed a full sprint and pushing off of one leg to land on two feet. Landing with two feet wide and with your butt down was essential to balance and preventing a traveling violation. This jump stop was great in teaching kids to play under control, maintain spacing, prevent offensive charges and not over penetrating. Fast forward to today.

The Pro Hop is a terrific weapon for offensive players. At the state tournament last March, they showed a video collage of some of the best performances at the state tournament over the years. In one of the most dominating performances, Dallas area Tiffany Jackson put on a clinic in the Pro Hop. The muscular 6'2 post was Pro Hopping her way into scoring position at will. She took this skill to the University of Texas and now the WNBA. Jackson was fortunate enough to play in a city where the referees did not stagnate her development by erroneously calling her Pro Hop a travel.

As long as players take a pound dribble before leaving the air and lands on two feet, it is not a travel! The evolution of the game has led to players changing directions and covering more ground using the Pro Hop but that does not automatically make it a travel violation. See the following video.

or Becky Hammon

These are two videos showing different instances of Pro Hops. Our players will continue to be stymied by bad officiating and unable to compete against Dallas and Houston area kids if this is allowed to continue. The game has advanced and the competency of local referees should too!

(Sidenote: In a recent game, a player who executed a legal Euro Step was told by the referee, "This is not Europe so don't use the Euro Step". How does a kid get better in such a repressive basketball environment?!)

NEISD Notes!

The NEISD Tournament provided a good look at a few of the better teams in the city. Four of the Top 10 teams in the city according to SA Express played in the event. Churchill, Roosevelt, Reagan, and Incarnate Word all showed why they are among the best the city has to offer. Tournament notes follow:

-Leslie Vorpahl is a Coaches Dream- The Churchill pg was named Tournament MVP after leading her Lady Chargers to a win over Reagan in the Championship. Reagan started off blazing hot and ran out to a 14-2 lead. Churchill coach Cal Wulfsberg sat calmly knowing that the game was in the hands of his very capable on-court pilot. Vorpahl kept her team in it early by scoring in double figures in the first half on her way to a game high 21 points. What is most impressive about the scoring effort was that it was against one of the best on-ball defenders in the city, Reagan's Moriah Mack. Vorpahl kept Mack in foul trouble throughout the game with her trademark change of speed. Vorpahl does a brilliant job at getting into the defenders hips when attacking.

Vorpahl is giving Coach Wulfberg the essential ingredient in the majority of successful high school teams; a good point guard. Please recall the better teams in recent SA history and that most of them, if not all, had very good point guards. Last years John Jay team featured the young but very good Destiny Amezquita. The great Wagner teams featured current USC pg Len'Nique Brown. The 3-Time state Tournament Steele teams featured current Southern Illinois pg Olivia Patterson. Great point guards not only get teams in their offensive schemes and easy shots for others but more more importantly, they take care of the basketball. Turnovers are empty possessions. The above mentioned teams feasted on weak point guards on the defensive end. Wagner, Jay and Steele past teams used full court presses and aggressive man defense to expose bad point guards. Or, they trapped good point guards to get the ball out of their hands and let the poor ball handlers and passers on opposing teams make decisions. This inevitably led to more turnovers for the competition and more possessions for them.

(A Sidenote: How were teams like Wagner and Steele able to keep so many talented players happy? PRESS PRESS and MORE PRESS. Pressing not only speeds up the game but creates more possessions via turnovers. More possessions equate to more shot attempts . More shot attempts equals more opportunities for players to eat. And eating keeps everyone happy! Or at least somewhat content.)

In the championship of the NEISD event, the point guard match up was won by Vorphal and the game followed suit. That is not to speak negatively about Reagan's point guard(s). Reagan plays point guard by committee. This fact changed the game. On 5 consecutive trips in the second half, Reagan turned the ball over. During this time, Churchill went on a 17-4 run by my count. The main reason, Churchill limited their turnovers by keeping the ball in the hands of the kid most suited to make intelligent basketball decisions, Leslie Vorpahl.

- Speaking of capable play makers, Tori Villareal is so underrated. During a the game versus Reagan on Friday night, Villareal showed why she is one of the best players in the city, when she wants to be. Her Incarnate Word team was getting dominated by Reagan early. Defensive stopper Moriah Mack was making things extremely difficult for IW point guard Maureen Zuniga. That is when IW Coach Troy Patterson called on Villareal to exert herself. She promptly stopped hiding under the basket in her position as a small forward for the Shamrocks and took over point guard duties. She simply put on a show. She used her strong frame and behind the back wrap dribble to score and dish at will. She hit three's in opponents faces and finished And 1's at the rim. She almost single handily kept IW in the game. In the end, Reagan pulled out a close game but Villareal was easily the best player on the court and finished with 22 point and at least half a dozen assists. My only knock on her is that she should have shot the ball more in the second half. She was unguardable!

-In an earlier Blog, I stated that Churchill has "AT LEAST" three kids that will average double digits in scoring. I mentioned Vorpahl, Carly Truesdale and Danni Espinoza but I had an inkling that they could have four players in double digits. The "fourth" player is a pretty good high school guard in her own right, Jordan Holub. Holub is effective at getting in the paint to create shots and can also hit open jump shots. She is wonderful when the ball gets to the third or fourth side of the floor in the Lady Chargers continuous offense. She capitalizes on weak defensive rotations and attacks the middle well. Holub makes Churchill tough to defend for an entire game.

-Ebony Easter is the "do-everything" player for O'Connor. She boards, facilitates out of the post and scores. She still has tremendous upside being that she is playing out of her college position in service of her high school team.

- Sune Agbuke and her Cornerstone team played in the event. Though they did not fair very well, it did give high school fans a look at the best college prospect in the city. Agbuke is signed to attend Baylor next season. However, the event did illustrate an important fact; No matter how good a Big may be, they are ineffective if they can not get the ball.

-Roosevelt can be very good if all the pieces come together. When Niaga Mitchell-Cole realizes that she is one of the best players in the state of Texas, her team will be as good as any in the city. She scored 26 points in one game and 1 point in another. It is not that she is inconsistent, she is just content in letting others shine or attempt to shine. That is entirely OK until they face teams as good as they are and there is no clear pecking order established among the team. ROLES! Everybody must learn their roles. The best teams have players and offensive schemes that establish roles in the clutch. Without such understanding of the importance of roles, a good team stays a good team. Not to sound redundant but the recent great SA teams knew this so Erica Donovan has the ball in her hands for John Jay. Meighan Simmons had the ball in her hands for Steele. Len'Nique Brown had the ball in her hands for Wagner. All three of these players played with talented supporting casts but in the clutch, everybody played their role and the Alpha Female was allowed to do what she does best, LEAD!!!!

- East Central is very athletic defensively!

- Madison moves the ball so well of offense that it probably hurts them at times. Again, wrong players making crucial decisions or jacking up shots. Illustrates how important CeCe Harper(Kansas) was to their success. Tracy Hastings does a great job at teaching trapping pick and rolls. On most pick and rolls vs Antonian, the Lady Mavs hard trapped the ball handler and rotated defensively on secondary options. UT Coach Gail Goestenkors is one of the best at teaching the hard trap on high pick and rolls. I often wonder why more high school coaches do not teach this defensive strategy.

-Incarnate Word Coach Troy Patterson has his team running a 3/4 court 1-2-2 trap that shrinks the court for opposing teams. This press defense is pretty impressive as it makes opposing teams execute passes vs traps and into tighter gaps. It is also very effective at getting the ball out of the hands of good point guards but limits their ability to throw over the top of the press for break away layups.

- Del Rio's Rachel Green gets buckets! Former Smithson Valley Coach Jim Jost now leads Del Rio and does a great job at letting Green go!

- Antonian's Victoria Briones is the best in the city at using her butt to rebound , fight for position, defend and pivot. This explains explains why the 5'8 Briones routinely grabs double digit boards and defends bigger players in the post effectively. Too often players grab rebounds and "get skinny". This often leads to tie ups, steals and off balance traveling violations. Briones grabs a board and immediately creates or maintains space by checking defenders with her butt. Many young players fail to realize that post play is among other things a "butt and back game". Effective post players know that they read defenders by using their butt and back. How often does Tim Duncan catch the ball in the post and lean back? This "lean back" technique enables Duncan to locate the defenders position and then he goes to an offensive counter based on that initial read. Briones is also a warrior. She is playing with a fractured finger on her shooting hand.

Meighan being Meighan!

SA Great Meighan Simmons is currently leading Tennessee Lady Vols is scoring. The greatest scorer in SA high school history has scored in double digits in all of her 7 college games. She was recently named all-tournament(Reef Division) for the Paradise Jam.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Alexis Sendejo best spot up shooter in city?

Alexis Sendejo is arguably the best shooter in the city. Sendejo and her high arching shot tickles twine at a great percentage.

Stevens Coach Anissa Hastings does a great job at running Sendejo off of numerous baseline screens to free her up. Hastings disguises some of the screens by sending them from different looks to confuse defenders. Sendejo has a knack for setting up screens ala Reggie Miller. If defenders jump the screen, she knows how to redirect her route and Flare. If the defender trails, she has the IQ to curl off of picks and get open mid range shots. This ability to read and use screens seperates Sendejo from most shooters in the city.

Sendejo is the perfect Robin to Alexis Govan's Batman(woman). While Govan is a strong slasher and penetrates extremely well, Sendejo stretches the floor for Govan to have more room to operate. Sendejo has a strong frame and has improved her ball handling to attack over eager defenders who close out too aggressively. Her ability to shoot makes Stevens a very difficult out come playoffs. Do not be surprised if Stevens has an incredible run with Sendejo knocking down the three ball. The battle with John Jay's defensive stopper KiKi Taylor will be a must see.

Sendejo is in contention for best spot up shooter in the city with Champion's Brooke Allemand, Marshall's Carlie Heineman, Johnson's Brie Foresman, and Smithson Valley's Alison Salmon.

Sedejo is this years version of former Wagner sharp shooter and current UTA guard Michelle Rodriguez.

Hampton-Finch makes in official!

Asha Hampton-Finch recently signed her letter of intent to attend Prairie View A&M. Hampton-Finch is a brilliant student and the PVAM engineering program played a significant role in her decision.
Congrats to Asha and the Hampton-Finch family!

Zoldey signs!

Steele High School guard Lauren Zoldey recently signed a letter of intent to attend Angelo State University. Zoldey has played a vital role in Steele's magnificent run over the past few years and she hopes that she can end her senior year with another trip to Austin.

Congrats to Lauren and the Zoldey family!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Looking Good Early!

The following are some of those that are looking good early this season:

Taylor Calvert- Justified again! I received a lot of flack for ranking Calvert so high by many basketball heads a few months ago. The naysayers should have seen Calvert last night. The Reagan vs Steele game turned into her coming out party. Calvert finished with 31 points in a dominating performance. She had to have close to 10 steals in front of that dreaded press of the Lady Knights. Calvert is the only player in the city that is allowed to do an Open Step without being called for a travel by local refs. She exaggerates her Open Step and deliberately shows that the ball is released before her pivot foot is released. She now can hit the open three but her biggest improvement is putting it on the floor and using her strong frame to get lay ups. She is playing like a player with a purpose!

Steele Knights- They dominated the Rattlers. The game was close until the Lady Knights extended their patented full court press and ran away with the game. I was very surprised at how much the athleticism of the Lady Knights bothered the Rattlers. I have never seen a Terry Barton team give up dribble penetration and struggle against the press like last night. The reason, the Steele Lady Knight are good. Very Good. They are deep or at least deeper than most teams. McKenzie Calvert has learned to change speeds and scores almost at will. Her mid range game and better consistency with her 3 ball makes her almost unguardable. And she is still 14 years old! Elena Gumbs did not have a great shooting night and seems to be still transitioning from a great cross country season but still she constantly puts pressure on the defense with dribble penetration. The Calvert sisters and Gumbs are a headache at the head of that press defense.

Kari Wallace- The Lady Knight coach is hungry! She kept on the press until the end of the game even though her squad was up by close to 20 in the waning moments. Wallace was in a zone. She rode the refs for bad calls, high fived her excited players and paced the sideline giving commands until her voice was horse. She seemed to make a statement with this win. The Meighan-less Knights are still to be reckoned with!

Lauren Rubio- I just "discovered" how good Rubio is in October. Watching her in the Harlandale event was a treat. Rubio is a must see. Her court vision and passing ability are exceptional. She was putting on a display in leadership vs Harlandale when it happened; the ugly side of SA basketball reared its head. Rubio ripped an opposing player at half court. The opposing player then intentionally stuck out her leg and tripped Rubio. Rubio crashed to the floor and banged her knee on the floor. It would have been too much for the refs to call an intentional foul. They didn't even call a regular foul as she lay on the ground writhing in pain. The dirty player then stood over Rubio pretending to care. Rubio went to the bench for an extended time. Wouldn't you know that her team fell behind as the intentional tripper went on a scoring spree to put her squad up by double digits. Rubio returned later to the game in a knee brace and took over again. She is not only a super nice pg but a warrior too!

Moriah Mack- The sophomore slasher from Reagan is looking good. She is getting to the paint with ease. Her impressive forays to the rack against Steele showed that her upside is huge. She is one of the few players in the city that can defensively stay in front of the elite guards more times than not.

KiKi Taylor- Taylor had a huge game in a crucial early season vs Wagner finishing with 21 points. She is averaging 15 points currently and still playing her trademark intensive defense. Taylor's game has offensively matured and she seems to understand that she is a legitimate scoring threat now.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Local Referee takes on AAU vs High School

The following is an email from a high school ref and local club coach. I find this email interesteting and will address some of the topics/comments in a future blog. The email follows:

Last Sunday, I attended the San Antonio Basketball Official Association monthly meeting and heard a disturbing comment from a 30yr high school boys head coach..... He said, “Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) is the worst thing ever to happen to the game of basketball, ever!” Obviously, he has strong feelings or negative experiences with local AAU programs. I wonder if he has ever attended a camp, clinic or practice session given by Ray Caldwell, Roy Green, Anthony Calloway, Winter Nurse, Theresa Nunn Tim Springer, and Monica Gibbs or any other excellent local AAU coaches/students of the game. When it comes to a player’s best interests and development, there is a constant tug of war between AAU coaches and high school coaches. Unfortunately, a fragmented relationship has resulted from hubris and a power struggle between the two groups.

Often, their styles of play are different – while the circumstances make it almost impossible for them not to be. High school programs run a structured offensive system and put emphasis on preparation and knowing one’s opponent. High school teams will play two games a week (more if they play a tournament) and often have at least two additional days of practice between games. On the other hand, AAU programs have a greater volume of games against stiffer competition via Showcase tournaments across state borders and nationally. AAU coaches have a distinct recruiting advantage, better game management skills, schemes, strategies, and flexibility in thinking outside-the-box. AAU season spans from March through July, a team might play anywhere from 50-80 games, with practice time significantly limited (maybe bi-weekly sessions). In an equal span from November through March, a high school team might play 40 games – only if it reaches the state tournament. High school coaches are very limited to the students in their district and system rigidity. However, high school coaches have players for a longer period of time: from 9th through 12th grade for better overall skill development – during extra athletic classroom sessions/before or after-school practice sessions. Plus, high school coaches are tasked with ensuring players are students first and academically eligible to participate.

Often times we forget these are kids we are working with, not professionals. Burn out is real; kids need to be involved in other activities as well. Studies show 70% of kids’ dropout of sports by the age 13. And, the number one reason is they are no having fun anymore. This could lead to an increase of injury, frustration and a decrease of player performance. Rest and recuperation are very important components in the development of athletes.

In my opinion, if we want our kids to become better basketball players – we need to have a mix of high school structure, AAU programs exposure, and better communication between parents, high school coaches and AAU coaches. Additionally, player need to play against better competition either nationally on clubs teams or locally at community/recreation centers, playgrounds, college campuses again older, bigger, stronger, faster, more talented players. There is no substitute for competing against superior experience. College coaches want to go see a bunch of different players all at once be evaluated against true talent vice local high school games against inferior opponents – where players are playing out-of-position. High school programs can provide a student/athlete with the structure needed to mirror academic success in college. Yet, AAU programs can provide players an opportunity to play nationally against the best competition in the country – boarding a player horizons and self-confidence.

The San Antonio Basketball community need to set-up a mechanism for bridging gaps between high school coaches, AAU coaches, game officials and parents by building positive informational-based relationships. Let’s move away from trying ruining the game we all love so dearly by controlling our players lives – each of us can be our own worst enemies at times. What solutions do we have to offer? What about a mandatory pre-season conference/tournament per district? One day can be devoted to seminars for/given by UIL officials, game officials, high school coaches, AAU coaches discussing principles and policies, rules and behavior, recruiting, etc. Communication is a key element in keeping everyone on the same sheet of music so no major issues arise from sweeping negative generalizations. I would rather see our local players graduate with their high school diploma or playing in spring/summer basketball tournaments than being involved in drugs, violence, alcohol, dropping out of school and getting into trouble with the law. There are so many great high school and AAU programs doing all the right things – less get over ourselves and build something unique and positive for our young San Antonio Ballers!

Sune makes it official!

The top ranked kid in San Antonio, Sune Agbuke signed with Baylor University last week. Agbuke committed to Baylor over a year ago. After a brilliant showing in the Nike Regional Skills Academy, word reached Baylor that the big kid from San Antonio was too good to pass up. The Bears followed up with an offer. Before Sune could commit, her mother reportedly informed Coach Kim Mulkey that she would have to pray for 30 days before making the decision. Sune's mother, a minister, eventually felt that the private Baptist institution was a good fit fer her big baby and the rest is history.
Congrats to Sune!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Danielle Blagg Makes it Official!

Smithson Valley star, Danielle Blagg signed on the dotted line yesterday to attend Tulane University.

Blagg had a terrific summer with her South Texas Hoyas club team. She picked Tulane over the 30 plus offers that she accumulated during her hot summer.
The Blagg family had a party for her last night that was attended by numerous people who has helped Danielle along the way.
Here is a quote from a Tulane article on Blagg:

"She's a very athletic wing who has the ability to score," Stockton said of Blagg. "With good size on the perimeter, I think she can really help us defensively and offensively. She is tremendously competitive and has a great up-side to her. She can play the two or three, so she really has the chance to develop. She has good athleticism and size for a perimeter player."

Congrats Danielle!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Carlie Heineman Diary

Marshall freshman Carlie Heineman updates her player diary on

More Opening Game Observations!!

-Wagner vs Jay excitement was intoxicating. I wish more big games were scheduled among the city elite teams and held on campuses. The high school feel of cheering and jeering makes the environment special. The fans living and dieing with every possession adds to the anticipation of the next play. Playing in big empty arenas gives the game a distant feel.

-"If you knew better, You would do better"- This was one of the often repeated sayings of a past mentor of mine. I thought about this last night. One of the best trainers in the city kept making excuses for an extremely talented player. This player kept making "scared" turnovers. The trainer is a close associate and someone whom I really respect. I respect him because his own son is one of the most skilled preteens that I have ever seen. I have trained a dozen or so preteens that eventually went D1 but this kid is ahead of the game.

Point is, the kid from last night has a long way to go in terms of skill set. She played on club teams that allowed her to use her athleticism to shine but did not give her the required skill set needed when playing those that are as big, as fast and as strong.

This reminds me of one of my favorite movies, 'Glory'. In one of the best scenes, the military commander played by Matthew Broderick picks out a soldier who is seemingly a marksmen with his rifle. The soldier is hitting every target and the rest of the troops are enjoying his shooting acumen. Broderick then tells him to load his musket. Broderick then starts to fire shot after shot into the air while standing directly behind the soldier. Broderick is yelling "Faster!" and he continues to shoot shot after shot over the head of the soldier. The soldier gets off a couple errant shots at a target. He can not function properly under such duress and eventually drops his musket loader and is in a nervous wreck. He is no longer the hot shooting soldier that all was celebrating. He was put in a situation that overwhelmed his ability.

That is what happens to a players that can not fall back on skill set when the going gets tough. If a player has to think about using a skill, it is too late when playing great competition. The skill must be instinctual and second nature.

-Continuous Offenses- Watching games in the past two days has me realizing that a lot of teams will depend on continuous offenses. SOME Continuous Offenses rely on the Equal Opportunity philosophy. That is fine and dandy if all the players are equally capable of producing on the offensive end. However, most of the time, this is not the case.

For instance, I saw a team that ran an offense that included an unskilled post player catching the ball at the three point line and making a reversal pass. This post player is a post in the truest form. She can not dribble effectively and does not posses range outside of 8-10 feet. What happens if the opposing team denies the reversal pass and every other pass aggressively. This would MAKE the post player MAKE a play using skills that she does not currently posses. It is a turnover waiting to happen. But that would take a coach that adjusts defensively and players with basketball IQ ,which is another subject for another day!

-A brief comment about basketball IQ- Muhammad Ali was the greatest! One reason why, he adjusted. He used the rope-a-dope to defeat the unbeatable Foreman. He circled away from the vicious left hook of Frazier. He used his strength to pulverize the smaller Patterson. He adjusted! He studied his opponent and he make adjustment to his style to give him the advantage in the ring. He prepared!

-I just found out yesterday that a kid from one school CAN NOT tape the game of a different school in order to advance scout. That blew me away. Never mind that every kid that will play in college has to study film of the competition before they meet. The UIL should overturn this archaic rule. If anyone knows why such a rule exists, please email me at I really want to learn the intent of the rule.

-Taft Junior, Monet Neal is an incredible athlete. She has to be in contention for highest vertical leaper in the city. In the game vs Johnson, Recee' Caldwell pulled up for a three point shot off of a horns screens. Monet switched and was standing at the elbow. Caldwell shot and Neal threw the attempt three quarters of the court! She covered the 8 feet or so in distance with amazing athleticism. The word is the the junior is only 15 years old!

-Madison sophomore Brianna Jones had a reported 16 rebounds last night in a loss to Marshall.

- District 26-5A has 3 out of the top 10 teams in the city.Roosevelt thumped East Central by 30 plus, Churchill beat a very good Stevens team by 13 and Reagan handled Judson by a 30 spot!

- I did not give preseason respect to Southwest. They are a good team and getting it done without scoring machine Shana Holmes. They drubbed Providence by 40. Chatavia "Baby" Boone-Fudge went for 21. Southwest is ranked #3 in the preseason by SA Express. I think that is a little too high. Time will tell but I find it hard to believe that they will finish higher than Reagan, Churchill, or Steele.

- Smithson Valley is balanced and experienced. Danielle Blagg started off her season with 17 in a blowout win over Del Rio. Fellow seniors Allison Salmon(11) and Ashley Bryand(15) combined for 26. With her college decision behind her, Blagg will have a monster season.

- Teams with good point guards will have success this season. The running of a team against pressing teams will dictate the outcome of many teams this year. I found it disturbing at how bad the decision making was facing press defenses the last couple of days. We have to travel more to pressing cities like Dallas in order to prepare our local kids for what they will face in Austin and college!

Opening Games Quick Hitters!!!

The high school season started off with a bang. My opening games quick hitters follow:

-"Erica Donovan is the 'Wagner Killer'"- Midway through the game at Wagner last night, I received this text from the father of one of the best players in the city. He is absolutely right. Donovan carried her shorthanded squad to a 70-65 win over Wagner. Donovan did not bully her way to dominance like she did last March on her way to Austin. She exhibited an increased skill set that had her playing the point guard most of the night. She scored numerous buckets in transition and made the pivotal assist to a streaking Kiarra Taylor after breaking the Thunderbird press with 2 minutes left in the game. Donovan then gave the "cut throat", it is over gesture as she ran up the court. Basketball purists would probably would be offended by it. I am purely delighted with her intensity. She is the reigning ALPHA female in the city!

Speaking of Alpha female, Donovan reminds me of former SA great Jazmine Malone. Here is why. I recall sitting in the stands of Littleton Gym as Malone walked in the building. Former SA great Christine Flores ran over excitedly to hug and greet her club teammate, Malone. Instead of hugging Flores, Malone gave her a luke warm reception. Scheduled to play that day was Malone's Antonian team and Flores' Churchill squad. Malone was sending Flores a message. The message was simply, " Later for all the pleasantries, it is time for me to show you that I am boss". That attitude is evident in Donovan.

I witnessed Donovan try that "boss" persona with former club teammates Meighan Simmons, Len'Nique Brown and Kiante Ageous. While she did not achieve Alpha status with that talented strong willed group, she did not play the subservient role either. Last night established her status as the "one" in the city.

-Speaking of Alpha- Alexis Govan is as tough as it gets in the city. I first wrote about Govan while detailing her exploits in a battle against Donovan a couple of years ago in an article called "Guard 21" . Govan scored 24 points in a defeat to a very good Churchill team on Monday. During one stretch, Govan took over the game with 3 consecutive steals and conversions on the other end. She is playing with the swagger of a player already committed to a Division 1 university, Western Kentucky.

-Stevens' guard, Alexis Sendejo has incredible trajectory on her three ball. She finished with 17 points with 5 three pointers in the loss to Churchill.

- Carly Truesdale from Churchill gets it done! She is extremely strong with a understanding of her skill set. She can hit the three but is also surprisingly agile and finishes with acrobatic lay ups in traffic.

-Speaking of Churchill, watch out! They are deep. They have a very good floor general is Leslie Vorpahl and Danielle Espinoza is long and extremely active on the boards. They have AT LEAST three players who will average double figures which makes them extremely tough to ignore. They simply outlasted a really good Stevens team and won by double digits.

Recee' Caldwell for Johnson put on a show against Taft. Even though the freshmen recently stepped on her high school campus as a 13 year old, she showed that her game is mature beyond her chronological age. Caldwell finished with 37 points in a four point defeat. Johnson, with a senior laden team, averaged 36 ppg last season. Johnson averaged 33 points a game a year ago in District. Even though they lost by four, the Jags scored 53 points in the opener against a decent Taft team. The future is bright for the Jags. Mark my words, this young team will be a major factor in the city in a couple of years. They are getting another freshmen sensation next season in Erica Sanders. Outside of Kyra Lambert(Dolbie MS), Sanders is the best 8th grader in the city and is already drawing college suitors.

Speaking of the future, let's rewind- I wrote an article three years ago entitled San Antonio's Future . Let's see how accurate my assessments were up until this point.

Destiny Amezquita-2013(Jay)- Reigning SA Express Newcomer of the year. Jay missed her sorely last night. Think about how good Jay will be when she gets back from her ACL injury.

Hannah Thompson 2014(Brandeis)- Still recovering from an ACL that sidelined her for almost a year. Debuted as starting PG on JV last night and scored 15 points and 8 steals in less than half a game.

Corrina Monchado2014(Wagner)- Started at the point guard spot as a freshman last night for the preseason #2 team in the city. Wearing Len'Nique Brown's number. That should tell you what Coach Camacho thinks about the kid.

Heather Hormuth 2013(Champion)- Made Second Team All-District as a freshman last season.

McKenzie Calvert 2014(Steele)- scored 21 points in her HS debut. Already Committed to Baylor. HoopGurlz 100 kid.

Ashely Ross 2014(Wagner)- Played major minutes last night for the #2 ranked team in the city as a freshman. A dozen or so college letters from BCS caliber schools.

Recee' Caldwell 2014(Johnson)- Already documented her debut above. HoopGurlz 100 kid.

Kyra Lambert 2015(Dolby MS)- Already getting major college attention as an 8th grader. Will be a HoopGurlz 100 kid next summer!

Moriah Mack 2013(Reagan)- Starting on a very good Reagan team and led team in scoring on opening night.

Wendy Knight 2014(Reagan)- Played major minutes for a very deep team in her debut. Already has a Division 1 offer.

Avery Queen 2014(Boerne)- Started in her debut and played major minutes before getting in foul trouble. Getting heavily recruited.

Antania "T" Newton 2014(Jay)- Started at the point in her freshman debut for the #1 team in the city.

Daleesha Monroe 2014(Stevens)- May miss season with injured foot JV team.

Amber Ramirez 2016(Heritage MS)- If you want to see a show, go look up Heritage middle school schedule and witness Ramirez. had 30 in her MS debut. Is almost unfair as a scorer at that level.

I "predicted" these kids would shine over three years ago. Not because I claim to be a guru but because "it is what it is". These kids have parents that get it. Or should I say got it a long time ago. These kids have parents that do not make excuses for them. These kids were trained not to feel "entitled" to make varsity. These kids were putting the time in and traveling all over the country to COMPETE! That is why SA has such a bright future. Some kids and parents are taking the game serious and not treating it as social clubs and recreational time. I obviously missed on kids like Vorpahl and Brooke Allemand(1st team All-District as freshman and 23 points in season debut last night) when I wrote this three years ago. Not because I did not appreciate their games , I had yet to see them play.

Monday, November 1, 2010

High School Happiness!

The high school season is upon us and things are shaping up for it to be an exciting year. A few thoughts follow:

-TABC Love!- John Jay Lady Mustangs are ranked 3rd in the preseason by TABC. Wagner returns only one starter from last year and are respected enough to earn the #13 spot. Southwest also made the cut coming in at #21.

Do not be surprised if a couple other SA teams crack the Top 25 before it is all said and done.

-Reagan is my darkhorse to surprise a lot of people this year. Terry Barton takes a backseat to no one in the city in regards to the X's and O's. This season may be the Rattlers year to challenge for city wide supremacy. Linda Kuster, Moriah Mack, Sabrina Berry and Wendy Knight may be as athletic a group as any in the city. Add an experienced leader and good shooter Marissa Rodriguez and this team is poised for a big run.

- Steele is another team that should end up ranked among the Top 25 in the state. While they most likely will not make it back to Austin this year, they should challenge Wagner for a district championship and contend for tops in the city.

Season Opening with a Bang- The top two ranked teams and finalist for last seasons regional championship will kick the season off going head up. Mike Floyd and Christina Camacho deserve a lot of credit for scheduling the season opening clash on November 9 at Wagner High School. Coach Floyd visiting the Thunderbird's house the first game of the season signifies his intentions. He wants to send the statement to the entire city that he runs from no one and he is the top dog. Coach Camacho invites him to bring it on, as she looks avenge the bitter defeat at UTSA.

These two are showing all of SA of how it should be done!

- Jay follows up the Wagner game with games against Judson(11/23), Churchill(11/30) and Roosevelt(12/7). Throw is the ultra competitive Pasadena event which features eight Top 25 Teams in the TABC(# 20 Bellaire, # 8 Cy-Fair, #9 Cy-Falls, #11 Timberview, #15 North Crowley, #19 Northshore, #2 MacArthur, #3 Jay). Hopefully star guard Destiny Amezquita will return to full capacity soon. For Jay to survive this type of schedule, they will need Destiny.


Big Paws on a Puppy!!!- For numerous teams to have the type of year that they are hoping for, freshman players will have to contribute early and often.

-Ashley Ross will play a huge role for Wagner. Her athleticism and finishing ability will be needed for Wagner to contest for state.

-Antania "T" Newton will have to help shoulder the burden of Amezquita's absence. Talk about being thrown in the fryer, Newton will have to step up big against some of the best back courts in the state.

- McKenzie Calvert can make Steele one of the teams to beat. Taylor Calvert, Elena Gumbs and Lauren Zoldey are proven at this level. However, the young Baylor commit has the potential to be unstoppable in the open court. If she is allowed to go to work in transition, Steele will score in droves.

- Carlie Heineman from Marshall can help her squad make the playoffs in a tough district. Heineman is savvy enough to play some point guard but her ability to stretch the defense will open up the floor for her teammates.


Breakout Players- These veteran players should have a strong year.

Katherine "KK" Saenz 2013(Marshall)- Nice guard with strong handle and a fast first step. Can knock down the open jumper. Plays for a coach(Erin Albrecht) that allows her guards freedom to create.

Alison Salmon 2011(Smithson Valley)- Salmon can hit wide open 3's as good as any in the city. In her senior year, this is the time for Salmon to put it all together.

Linda Kuster 2011(Reagan)- It is hard not to play in the shadow of a player the caliber of Jessica Kuster. Try living in the same household. That is the predicament of Linda as she tries to establish her own rep in the city. Her athletiscm should make her a double double kid this season.

Incarnate Word Backcourt- "Mo" Zuniga and Tori Villareal will give Coach Patterson one of the best backcourts in the city. Zuniga tranfered from Antonian this past summer. She is a heady point guard that can hit the 3ball. However, Villareal is the deal! The strong framed lefty should be a contender for area Super Team honors this season.

Jackie Anderson 2013(Antonian)- The cupboard is bare at Antonian with the departure of Zuniga and the graduation of leading seniors. The 5'10 slasher should have a big year. With her first step and strong handle ,she is going to have to put up big numbers with games scheduled against Wagner, Judson, Reagan, and the Katy ISD Tournament.

Ebony Easter 2012(O'Conner)- With the graduation of volume shooters, Arlene Cisneros and Tina Chapa, it is Easter's time to shine. An undersized post in the past, Easter has the skill set to play her eventual college position on the perimeter. Her strong frame and good jump shot will make her a headache for opposing guards to contain.


Quick Hitters-

Super Teamer Shana Holmes(Southwest) has been cleared to play. The areas leading returning scorer is back from an ACL injury

Coach Breck Ross is no longer at Antonian. Ross led the Lady Apaches to the state semi finals in 3 out of the last 4 years.

Churchill has a lion for a new coach, or better yet a WOLF! Cal Wulfsberg still holds the assist record at the University of Iowa. Wulfsberg's intensity is already apparent. His 1-3-1 trap is indicative of a Lute Olsen disciple.

Johnson freshman Recee' Caldwell has taken unofficial visits to the University of Texas and Baylor this past month. She has scheduled visits at Texas A&M, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State over the next two months.

Jay post Raven Reyes is drawing a lot of interest from Kansas State, Tennessee Tech, New Mexico State and Southern Illinois.