Wednesday, December 28, 2011

San Antonio: Low-Mid Major City (Part 1)

San Antonio has grown leaps and bounds in the last few years in terms of girls basketball. While the city is located in perhaps the "hottest" state for talent according to many college suitors, San Antonio still trails Dallas and Houston in producing High-Major girls basketball players. SOME theories for the disparity will be noted but first a need to clarify the difference in levels of colleges.

Though distinct definitions for High-Major, Mid-Major and Low-Major are hard to come by, there is pretty much a common consensus on High-Major schools. The automatic qualifiers for the BCS Bowl Championship series are considered High-Major schools. The AQ's are the six power conferences; ACC, Big 12, SEC, Pac-12, Big East and Big Ten. Conference realignment has muddied the waters of which schools are now High-Majors, but that is another subject. These six conferences make up 74 schools, give or take a couple with realignment. These 74 schools are considered High-Major schools.

Mid-Majors are commonly considered to be these nine conferences; Atlantic 10, Colonial Athletic Association, Conference USA, Horizon League, Mid-American, Missouri Valley, Mountain West, West Coast, and Western Athletic Conference.

Low-Majors are considered to be conferences such as Southland, MEAC, Summit, and Ohio Valley. Some Low-Majors would argue that they are Mid-Majors. Again, no true definitions for the separation in the designation of the Low and Mid-Majors exist. Consequently, there is little difference between some Low and Mid-Major women's basketball programs in terms of talent.

The true talent gap exists between High-Major schools and Low-Mid Majors basketball programs. While programs like Gonzaga produce teams that dance with the big girls on a consistent basis,the women's game has a distinct caste system when winning national championships are concerned. The Butler's, VCU's, and George Mason's have shown that the men's side of basketball has closed the talent gap but the disparity is still pretty wide on the women's side.

Here are SOME theories why San Antonio is a city that is better suited to produce Low-Mid Major players in comparison to Houston an DFW Metroplex. Instead of focusing on what San Antonio is not, I will try to focus on the advantages that Houston and the DFW Metroplex have in comparison.

Numbers- The greater Houston area has around 6 million residents. The DFW Metroplex has more than 6 million people. In contrast, the greater San Antonio area has a little more than 2 million people. The Houston and DFW areas are triple the size of San Antonio. The larger two areas are able to choose from a deeper talent pool of available players. Players like Meighan Simmons or Clarissa Davis show that San Antonio's best players can match up against the other areas best, but those areas have more Meighan's and Clarissa's due to the sheer number of available players.

Clubs- Club programs play an integral part of helping produce High-Major talent. The Houston and DFW areas have a thriving club scene. Houston has Nike Cy-Fair Shock, Houston Heat(DFW-Washington), Houston Insiders, Cy-Fair Premier, Cy-Fair Texans, Houstonians, Alodia Eclipse, Houston Elite, and Houston Wildcats. These are just a few of the prominent programs that have produced multiple D1 players. Besides producing D1 players, these Houston area teams have produced numerous McDonald All-American players in the last few years; Kelsey Bone, Karla Gilbert, Stephanie and Brianna Gilbreth, Chiney and Nneka Ogwumike, Cassie Peoples, and Amber Orrange. A kid named Brittany Griner is also from Houston and started her club career there before moving to a team in Dallas.

Dallas has the only other Nike sponsored club in the state, DFW Elite. This club put 20 plus players in the D1 ranks a few years ago; one club in one year! Add Texas Express, Top Prospects, NT Shockers, Dream Team, US Elite, Nike Cy-Fair Shock-Hensle, Westside Elite and United Basketball. Again, these are just a few of the clubs that consistently produce D1 kids. As for High-Major kids, Dallas has recently produced USA Basketball players, Alexis Jones and Odyssey Sims. Add arguably the best point guard in the country for 2012 and certain McDonald All-American, Moriah Jefferson.

The Dallas and Houston area kids benefit from a strong club environment. This environment fosters a competitiveness that allows kids to have constant measuring sticks to compare their progress against.

Resources/Environment- Moriah Jefferson, the Dallas area point guard, plays for one of the best clubs in the country, Nike DFW Elite. She has been trained by a former pro since middle school. She is home schooled, which allows her to work on her game for hours, while getting quality instruction. She then plays against some of the best players in the country on a frequent basis.

San Antonio born, Cassie peoples moved to Houston after a short stay in Florida. She moved to a high school that featured the best player in the country in Chiney Ogwumike. Her high school coach previously coached a pretty good point guard named Lindsey Harding. Peoples' father is one of the best trainers in the state. She played for one of the best club programs in the country in the Nike sponsored Cy-Fair Shock. For competition, she had a fellow McDonald All-American down the proverbial street in Houston Heat(DFW Washington) guard, Amber Orrange(Stanford).

The environment in these cities are idea for producing High-Majors. Quality former players that know and understand the game now train and live in these areas. Brianna Turner is not only arguably the best kid in the country for 2014, she gets trained by former NBA player and coach, John Lucas. Not only is Turner 6'3 and can dunk, she has the opportunity to train with Lucas and her club coach, George Washington, a good trainer in his own right. These are the type of opportunities that help produce High-Major kids.

High school gym access for trainers and club teams are prevalent in these areas. The constant reps needed to elevate players games to the next level are a direct result of gym access. It can be argued, the major difference between a High and a Mid-Low Major player is refinement. High Major kids are usually "great" at least one skill. To become great at any skill takes an inordinate amount of time in the gym. Limited gym access reduces the ability of kids to refine their skills and become great. Meighan Simmons has great athleticism and a great knack for scoring. Having a military father with easy and consistence access to a gym on base helped in her development. The difficulty of securing dependable reasonable priced gym time has a direct impact on the lack of refined players locally.

Development- In speaking with the fathers, trainers and coaches of prominent kids in Dallas and Houston, they understand the importance of youth development. They are less likely to chase trophies. Too many local dads/coaches still attempt to stack their daughters teams to win. Many local teams employ strategies like full court press when already winning by 20 or more points. Many teams use Zone Defense exclusively during formative learning years. Many coaches spend little time learning the game themselves, so teaching proper IQ is futile. It is hard to instill basketball IQ when coaches possess little basketball IQ themselves. In a great conversation with Judson coach Triva Corrales, she speaks of the need to restrict middle school kids from playing zone. She speaks of the difficulties of teaching Man Defense in high school when players have played nothing but Zone Defense in their youth. In an example of lack of IQ, a local coach delayed the game by instructing the point guard to dribble at half court and "make" the defense come out of their zone and play Man Defense. The opposing coach screamed at the ref to give the delaying coach a technical foul! Instead of coming out of the Zone Defense and play man, he wanted the ref to disallow the stalling tactic because it was unfair??!!

Using Brianna Turner again, she can play 3 positions at 6'3. If any player should be pigeon holed in the post, it is a 6'1 middle schooler, like Turner was a few years ago. Yet, Turner was not restricted to the post and was developed on the perimeter. A common practice in middle school locally is to put 5'8 kids in the post. Instead of using an offense like 5-Out,that emphasizes player and ball movement, youth coaches use archaic 3-Out 2-In offenses that do nothing but stunt the growth of undersized post players. When you see a 6'0 guard like the Baylor's Nay Nay Haden, it shows how far Dallas is ahead of San Antonio. Hayden would have been anchored in the post locally, the same with Turner.

Iron Sharpens Iron- San Antonio's best players travel the nation in the summer and compete with the best from other areas. Again, some local players are in the conversation as being among the elite nationally. However, the local scene offers too many games against recreational players. It is very difficult to face a a 5'9 post player and get excited for the challenge after spending a summer facing the Brianna Turners' of the nation. Dallas and Houston area players have less opportunity to "play down" to competition. This is extremely important at the High-Major level. At that level, there is little opportunity to take nights off. Every time players step on the court, they must be mentally prepared to excel. The best of our local players do not get physically challenged every night out, thus, they develop the very bad habit of taking plays and games off. With so many "down" games facing recreational type of players, it is difficult for our Low-Mid-Major kids to take their games to the next level. It is tough to learn calculus when you are always practicing arithmetic.

Monday, December 19, 2011

ShesBallin Prospects!!

ShesBallin Prospects is here! The most comprehensive recruiting report in South/Central Texas features hundreds of prospects and their projected college levels. Player ratings are exclusively accessed by college and universities. This exclusivity allows the report to remain free from politics and influence peddling.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Miami Heat Syndrome!

Watching the super team pursuits by many NBA star players is reminiscent of some club ball organizations. The prevalence of stacking teams is probably a disservice to individual growth.

For instance, Houston's Brianna Turner is arguably the best player in the class of 2014. She started off her HS career by playing alongside at least four D1 players at Westbury Christian, including two high majors players. How much better did Turner get in high school last season? Yes, it was to her benefit to practice with and against great competition everyday. Yes, her club coach was also her assistant high school coach and was allowed to continue to train her in a very advanced environment. However, when was she going to learn to carry a team and have every play that she makes matter?

Now Brianna Turner is in a public school where she is the focal point of the defense on every play. She must step outside of her comfort zone and do things that her formal environment never asked of her. Her immense skills will now get a chance to be honed over a 35 game high school season. She now plays with guards who need her 6'4 help with ball handling duties. She is now playing with post players that are not equipped as she is to command double teams. Her current HS coach has not coached dozens of D1 players and against dozens of D1 players, like her former coach. This mandates that she step up and increase her basketball IQ and implement the new lessons in pursuit of victory. Brianna Turner is better for the "downgrade" in environment. Will we ever see Lebron James with 25 consecutive points on the biggest stage of basketball again like he did against the Pistons a few years ago? Probably not, since human nature has allowed him to know that he does not have to be outstanding for his team to now thrive. He's comfortable!!

Micheal Jordan led Laney HS, Magic Johnson led Everett HS in East Lansing and Larry Bird led West Baden HS in French Lick. They became the Mount Rushmore of basketball by leading teams and not going out of their way to team up with other stars. Now, many parents are scared of allowing their kids to suffer through the growing pains of going through the prerequisite of success; Failure and being uncomfortable!!

San Antonio 5-A District Predictions!

Predictions for district playoff teams and finishes:

1. Steele 8-2
1. Wagner 8-2
2. Judson 7-3
4. New Braunfels 5-5

- A tough preseason and return of Ashley Ross should make Wagner co-champ.
- Steele features the most top heavy team in the district, should lead to at least share of title.
- Judson is solid in a lot of positions and could win title if they can generate points on nightly basis.

1. Reagan 11-1
2. Churchill 9-3
3. Johnson 8-4
4. Roosevelt 6-6

- Reagan has a chance to go undefeated but will have at least one slip up, most likely to Churchill. -Churchill has a shot at the title but a tired star in Leslie Vorpahl will allow teams to upset.
- Johnson has a legit shot at the title but a young and disrespected team will most likely finish 3rd in the toughest conference in the city( 3 teams in the current SA Top 5)
- Roosevelt's athletic zone and exploitation of no shot clock will wear teams down for enough wins to secure playoff birth.

1. Steven 15-1
2. Jay 11-5
3.Brandeis 10-6
3. O'Connor 10-6

- Stevens is deepest team in city. Don't be surprised if they are Austin bound.
- Jay will get a couple starters back soon and should finish well.
- Brandeis and O'Connor should hold off a solid Clark for finish in the money.

1. East Central 7-3
1. Southwest 7-3
3. Corpus Cristi Carroll 6-4
4. South San Antonio 5-5

- East Central has three double digits scorers and are athletic.
- Southwest plays a style that will lead to wins. Should split with East Central.
- Corpus Cristi Carroll is well coached and has a distinct home advantage.
- South San should be OK behind good guard play.

Brennan vs Johnson Game Notes!

SA Express #4 and #5 teams squared off last night when Brennan beat Johnson 52-42. Game notes follow:

Tanaeya Boclair(Brennan)- Boclair has been championed on this blog as the best post player in the city despite being a 2014. Boclair was Player of Week last week for the city and looked unstoppable in the first half. She showed a wide array of offensive moves that had college coaches taking note. She made a left hand jump hook and followed that up with a step through. She then hit a 17 foot jumper that found nothing but the bottom of the net. She finished the night with 17 points and 22 boards. Boclair was at one point considered a HoopGurlz 100 player, a player considered to be among the best 100 players in the COUNTRY. She fell out of the Top 100 but that will change soon.

Alyssa Crockett(Brennan)- This blog wrote:
"One of the few guards who gets to the free throw line more often than physical bigs"
"Her tenacious attitude and play makes her one of the toughest guards to contain in the city. She will live at the free throw line"
"Her constant attacking style will guarantee her multiple trips to the free throw line"

The game proved what has been written on this blog numerous times, Crockett is a free throw making machine. Her style is rewarded in the city like former John Jay star Julissa Garrett. Crockett scored 11 of her 15 points from the free throw line, the majority of them in the clutch.

First Blow- Johnson inexplicably came out in a 2-3 zone that enabled the well coached Brennan team to pick them apart with passes, ball reversal and low post touches for Boclair. Johnson sat back and did not pressure the Brennan guards even though the strength of the Jags this season is the ability to pressure full court and speed up the pace. Brennan plays a ball control, half court style of play that slows tempo. The Johnson defense played right into the hands of Brennan's style. Brennan struck the first blow and had Johnson down 10-0 to start the game, an insurmountable lead.

Guts no Glory- Johnson's Recee' Caldwell started slow, came on strong to bring her team back and finished with not enough in the tank. Caldwell, who shot 19 times a game last year while averaging 20 pts, has sacrificed her shots this season and is averaging close to 18 points on 14 shots. Last night, she shot her team back into the game while going 4 for 5 in the 3rd quarter. She then went ice cold and missed her last 6 shots while trying to keep her team from falling further behind. She also went 0-3 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter, even though she is an 80% free throw shooter for the season. Caldwell played the entire game for the second game straight while facing the concentration of the defense. She finished with 19 points on 21 shots. She is averaging 6 assists this season but only had 4 dimes last night. For a player that usually comes up big in big games, she did not have enough in the tank and came up short last night.

Non-Pacifist - Johnson dug themselves a huge hole and fought tooth and nail to tie the score twice late in the game. They lost because of their poor shooting and passive defense made it a very tough night. However, their efforts to overcome the early flaws were hampered by horrible officiating. Here is a fact, 4 out of the Top 5 teams in the city have coaches that "lobby" for calls. They are not pacifist.

Stevens, Churchill and Brennan, all have coaches that protest often when calls do not go their way. Reagan coach Terry Barton does not usually protest loudly but does make his point early and often. Steele's Kari Wallace loses her voice questioning every call. (During the Meighan Simmon's years, she made sure to do her part to make sure Simmons shot a ton of free throws. You do not score 3000 points without earning the respect of the refs!) There was an interesting exchange last night.

Johnson Coach Audra Bredemeyer was calmly protesting a call. The referee told her to "shut up", literally. The appalling thing was that he told her to shut up in front of her players. The same ref then got a verbal lashing by the Brennan coach and gave him time for a conference to make his case. The foul count was 7 to 1 after that exchange in favor of Brennan. Brennan shot 30 free throws to Johnson's 15, even though Johnson attacked the paint as often as Brennan.

Compare Bredemeyer's non-confrontational approach to that of one of the coaches of one of the Top 5 teams in the city. In a game last month at Wagner, this visiting coach jumped in the face of a hearing impaired ref and yelled at him that he "was not going to work anymore of his/her games". When the ref pointed to his ears to indicate that he was hearing impaired, the non- pacifist coach yelled, "I don't care, you can read my lips". This coach is one of the best in the city at gaining 50/50 calls in favor of his/her team. He/Her looks at the crowd like Hulk Hogan and raises his/her hands for support. His/Her antics work! I doubt that this same ref that told Bredemeyer to "shut up" last night would have disrespected this coach that way. Coach Bredemeyer is one of the nicest people you would ever meet, and her kindness is being mistaken for weakness.

Randy Evans is not nearly as boisterous as the above mentioned coach but surely gets the respect of the refs. His guards shot most of the free throws in the game last night, not his bigs.

Johnson a year Away- This blog wrote, "Johnson could be the best team in the city. However, they are probably still a year away".

For some of the above mentioned reasons, Johnson still has a way to go to be the best in the city. The former doormat of 26-5A has yet to earn the respect of the city's referees. They still have a young team, led by 3 D1 kids, two sophomores(one recently turned 15) and a freshman. They are missing the presence of Brie Foresman, a tough proficient scorer, who hurt her knee in a 30 point blowout last week. Against tough teams like Brennan, Johnson has to work too hard for shots if they are not turning teams over with pressure. Come playoff time, easy shots pay huge dividends, especially after a 35 game season.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Peggy the Legend!

Legendary- How good is Poth's legendary program under Peggy Hosek? The Poth's JV team beat a local varsity team in a convincing fashion recently, even though the varsity team featured at least 2 college basketball players. The Poth JV team reigned threes with the precision and discipline that the program is known for.

Coach Hosek's standard is to pursue a state title EVERY YEAR. Coach Peggy was spotted in a south side San Antonio gym last spring watching a 6th grader that will play for her eventually. Coach Hosek came from an hour away to watch her future player play a club game. In a conversation with a very successful Division 1 coach, she mentioned this same kid. Apparently, Coach Hosek has already been beating the recruiting drum for her future star. After coaching over 1000 games and winning over 75% of them, her passion and dedication is still remarkable.

In a time when a lot of coaches seem to coach girls basketball as a hobby, Coach Peggy is a throw back. She is cut from the same cloth as Devine's Gayle Sessions and Grandbury's Leta Andrews.


- Brennan has a great shot at going to Austin. Here is why:

  • Deep- Brennan is deep in the post and on the perimeter. The feature three 6ft players in Eliza Martinez(6'1), Tanaeya BoclBair(6'0) and Tia Mason(6'2). Their guard play is also deep with Allysa Crockett, Kalani Marquez and Ashlyn Graham.

  • Talented- Both Boclair and Crockett will surely play Division 1 basketball, with Martinez and Mason having a good chance to play at that level as well. Graham and Marquez are too college basketball players.

  • Coaching- Randy Evans is a gym rat. He can be spotted at UTSA watching player work outs in the Spring. He does not go to Austin during the state championships to attend the beer gardens and socialize, he takes in the games and analyzes games as if he was playing them next. Coming from the boys side of the game, he uses a different approach in defending. Very few female players are dynamic enough to beat constant Box-1 pressure with solid help. Evans uses this to neutralize high scorers like Chamaya Turner, who had just 4 points against his intense pressure.

  • Classification- Being 4A, Brennan will not have to go through very good 5A teams in Reagan, Churchill, Stevens and a healthy Wagner in a pursuit of state.

  • Defensive- Brennan has held the opposition to 21 pts or less 12 out of 19 games.

  • Same Soup Reheated- Few local coaches have been creative enough to make Brennan play outside of their comfort zones. The Brennan guards are small, yet no one has taken advantage of this by posting them. Brennan guards are allowed to be aggressive because they are backed up by big bodied shot blockers. No one has made the Brennan bigs guard on the perimeter with the pick and roll and take away their ability to control the paint.

Tiffany Rodriguez- The Southwest star guard does a great job at drawing contact and finishing in the open court. Rodriguez has an unorthodox game that she uses to her benefit. Her primary live dribble move is a very effective In&Out with the right hand. She does a very good job at playing in straight lines. Her coach, Bill Avey, plays a style that enables her to showcase her talent. His run and jump full court press allows Rodriguez to get plenty of leaking lay ups.

Steele- Steele is the surprise team of the year so far. They have dropped out of the SA Express Top 10. As stated on this blog, the only true obstacle that faced such a talented team was the lack of basketballs to go around. The three most talented kids on their team spent a good time playing with each other growing up. This fact led most to believe that they would excel on the local high school scene. Coach Kari Wallace has her work cut out for her. Three Division 1 players, two high majors, spells state for most local teams. John Jay, Wagner and Churchill made it to state with those ingredients(Churchill did it with one D1 kid, Christine Flores). A weaker than normal district should help right the ship for Steele. Wagner has played the entire season without a Top 10 kid in the city, Ashley Ross. They also lost a major senior player recently. Judson lost its dominant post presence early, the one area that Steele is vulnerable. However, do not sleep on Steele. If they can ever get all of their talent to play on the same page, they should make some serious noise.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Quick Hitters: Milestones,Coaching, Dirty Macks!!!

- Congrats to Floresville star and Southeastern Louisiana bound, Erica Hernandez for scoring point 2,000 on Thursday during the Floresville Tournament.

- In another milestone during the Floresville Tournament, Brandeis guard Allysa Browne scored her 1,000th point of her career.

-Canyon Star and heavily recruited Chamaya Turner chalked up her 1,000th point and 650th rebound two weeks ago during the SAISD Tournament. Turner will surely break the 500 assist mark before her high school playing days are over. Versatility!!!

- Distinguished visitors- Baylor, UTA, New Mexico, New Mexico St and hometown, UTSA are all enjoying the great match ups during the Lonestar Tournament. The event features 50% of the SA Express News Top 10 teams in Wagner, Reagan, Churchill, Judson, and Stevens.

- Churchill's Cal Wulfsberg has brought a NBA type offensive philosophy to the city. During a big comeback in a huge win vs Reagan, Wulfsberg employed the "flat" high ball screen for star Leslie Vorpahl for the enire second half. The "flat" is extremely difficult to guard at the NBA level so Wulfsberg understands that it is almost impossible to completely stop at the high school level with the right players. For instance, defensive extraordinaire, Moriah Mack guarded Vorpahl. To alleviate the great pressure from Mack, Churchill constantly picked her with the "flat". This made Reagan choose their poison; go under the screen, switch the screen or attempt to fight through it. Vorpahl was too skilled be played one way and had counters to the different ways of guarding her. She had 17 huge points in the second half to lead her team to victory. In the next Churchill game, Wulfberg realized that Boerne Champion has a star guard in Brooke Allemand. Wulfsberg employed his Diamond and 1 denial on Allemand and completely neutralized her. Wulfsberg has a great knack for making very good opposing players look mediocre while making sure his star gets the balls reps required to be the star that she is.

(Side note: When speaking to college coaches, high school coaches should not have to bash opposing players while promoting their own players. Just because a high school coach "out coaches" his/her opposition, does not mean that the opposing players are inferior to his/hers. Chuck Daly, RIP, did not bash Micheal Jordan and insinuate that Joe Dumars was better than Jordan. Daly understood that it was his SYSTEM and environment(physical NBA that allowed thug tactics vs Jordan) that allowed a mesmerizing Jordan to look mediocre at times. In a competition for scholarships, a high school coach should not stoop to the level of making disparaging remarks about kids in an attempt to get their kids recruited. Dirty Macking is what some call it. In other words, get a woman on your own merits, not by hating on the next man!!)

- Speaking of offensive systems, in a great tape by Tom Izzo on Man to Man Offense and Counters, Izzo goes on to explain that Bob Knight's Indiana teams and its famed Motion Offense featured 4 blockers(screeners). Yes, the Indiana offense featured a lot of player and ball movement but the Steve Alfords' shot most of the shots! The prevalence of some schools leaning on Dribble Drive Motion Offenses and 4out 1in systems have forgotten the basic premise of hierarchy. Kentucky ran the DDM offense to a NCAA Championship game by ensuring that a kid named Derrick Rose had the ball in his hands the most! Same with John Wall! On a local note, Kari Wallace rode Meighan Simmons to three state appearances. Mike Floyd rode Erica Donovan to his only state appearance. Christina Camacho rode Len'Nique Brown and Arielle Roberson to her state appearances. In some recent games, it has been alarming to see lessor skilled players taking the crucial shots when the game is on the line. This is the surprising in comparison to other local sports. Imagine if Devine football coach, Chad Quisenberry failed to get the ball in the hands of the statistical greatest runner in Texas history, Joseph Saddler. Imagine if Saddler did not carry the ball in the crucial part of the game and watched the 3rd string running back get all the carries. Quisenberry knows better, so he has Saddler carrying the ball 50 times a game. Consequently, he is 13-0!

- FYI, Championship Productions should probably be the most visited site by club and high school coaches. If basketball great minds such as Larry Brown, Mark Few and Sherri Coale are always attending basketball clinics to learn more, what does that say about "ungreat" basketball minds. In a local note, UTSA has a basketball great mind in assistant coach, "Luby". Coach Luby has coached with HOF Tara Vanderveer, was the head coach at Radford and was an assistant in the WNBA for starters! He is very approachable and willing to share his vast knowledge.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

More November Quick Hitters!

-Stevens and Brandeis validated my quick hitters this week. Stevens spanked Johnson in a rubber match in the semifinal of the SAISD. Brandeis confirmed my opinion of them by upsetting Stevens in the championship of SAISD.

- Some believe that Judson is the most balanced team in the city. While Judson is balanced, that honor goes to Stevens, EASILY! The top 5 players for Stevens account for 51 points. Three players averaged double figures with two more just a few points away from joining them in the double digit club. Yesterday game vs Mac showed why I have been on the Stevens bandwagon. They scored 100 points! And their leading scorer, was their 6th best scorer in the talented junior, Amalya Lewinson, who finished with 25 points.

- With all due respect to the published SA Express assist leaders, Recee' Caldwell and Leslie Vorpahl are leading the city in assist. Caldwell has three games of 10 or more assist already. She gave Brandeis 26 points and 10 assist yesterday in front of Duke. . Vorpahl countered last night with the most dominate performance of the early season by giving 30 points and 10 assist to a very talented Steele team.

- Former Smithson Valley star, Danielle Blagg hit the game winning shot over Top 25, LSU. Blagg was named Conference USA Freshman of the week.

- John Jay continues to be plagued by the injury bug. They have lost 4 starters to injury.

- Jacqueline Esquivel is averaging 18 points a game for Mac. The 2013 guard is getting a rep as a proficient scorer.

- Boerne Champion's Heather Hormuth is making her mark . The 2013 forward has made the transition from the post and is now hitting the 3ball consistently. She is averaging 13 points a game, shooting over 50% from the field and 38% from the three point line which places her as the third best scorer in 28-4A.

- Judson's Simone Fields' is shooting close to 60% from the field for the season. Impressive!

- Taft's Monet Neal(Houston Baptist signee) is the most improved offensive player in the city so far. Her incredible defensive ability has been joined by an increased repertoire of spins, turn around jumpers and up and unders.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Wulf and his Pack Leader!

With a huge upset win over Steele tonight on their home court, Churchill's Cal Wulfsburg has done it again. Steele has three Division 1 guards in McKenzie Calvert, Elena Gumbs and Kyra Lambert. Wulfsburg dared Steele to beat him from the outside and Steele came up short totaling a mere 41 points. Wulfsburg's Churchill team won 58-41.

The pack leader for Wulfsburg helped account for 50 points herself. Leslie Vorpahl totaled 30 points and 10 assists to lead her Chargers. Vorpahl will soon have plenty of scouts running to San Antonio vying for her services. She did most of her damage with a very good defender(D1) guarding her.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Reagan/Wagner Observations!

Reagan high school capped off a great week by beating #1 Wagner at home. In the same week where the Rattlers beat Top 5 Steele, the game was a great one for many reasons. A few thoughts on the game/players:

Deep Teams- Reagan won the close game with stars, Sabrina Berry and Moriah Mack sitting out significant minutes. Berry played in her first game of the season and Mack sat the entire second half for some reason. Speculation was that she is nursing a minor injury. Still, the Rattlers pulled off a huge win with players such as Tess Ramirez playing very solid. Ramirez kept a steady head and did a good job of not being overwhelmed by the intense Wagner pressure. Bailey Champion provided needed scoring. Imagine how good Reagan will be when all pieces are firing at the same time.

Wagner is also very deep. They feature 4 college bound guards in the Twins, Adrianne and Aundrea Davis(2012),Corrina Moncada(2014) and Deja Pettit(2013). Pettit shows flashes of brilliance. She can slash and has a street ball handle that appeals to the crowd. How deep is Wagner, the best guard is sidelined until early 2012, Ashely Ross. Forward Kiarra Rivera will play college basketball and is very solid post scorer, defender and rebounder. Sophomore forward Kaelynn Wilson has yet to earn significant minutes but would START on most other teams in the city.

Defense wins Championships- While many teams can pressure weak guards into turnovers in the full court, few teams lock up in the half court and rebound. Both Reagan and Wagner defend with great help defense and crash the boards to get needed stops. Both Tina Camacho and Terry Barton mix up defensive looks and have defensive weapons that they can unleash on the opposition. The entire Wagner back court can lock up like pit bulls and Reagan counters with arguable the best on-ball defender in the city, Moriah Mack. Reagan also uses the 5'9 athletic Wendy Knight to slow down scorers. Reagan also has the rebounding bully named Sabrina Berry and a huge body in Corrigan Tibbs. Wagner can board with ANY in the city with Kiarra Rivera and Tesha Smith.

Great Environment: It was the stark contrast in cheering that contributed to a great environment. The chants of Waaagner followed by TTTTT-Birds resonated through the gym. On the other side, Rattler fans enjoyed the prompting of traditional cheerleaders, back flips and all. Club teammates showed up to support club teammates, despite their own school rivalries. The Wagner Principal is as vociferous as any fan in showing his support for his school. He sits in the middle of the crowd and lives and dies with every play. The game at Reagan placed the crowd 60/40 Reagan's way and it is a shame that more high school games are not played on high school campuses. Last night had a football feel, with excitement and disappointment. Girls basketball SEEMED important to San Antonio last night! Even the officials were good!

Tesha Smith- The key to early Wagner success has been Tesha Smith. For anyone that saw a young Xavier McDaniel in the NBA, Smith is built in that mode. She rebounds, the best n the city, she blocks shots into the stands, she is effectively scoring and most importantly, she is the emotional spark plug for the T-Birds. Her intimidating presence adds fuel to the hectic pressure that the guards put on the opposition. Like the X-Man, who punched a young rookie named Michael Jordan in the chest for no reason other than intimidation, "Smitty" snatches boards and scowls in the process. In a telling play in a crucial part of the game, Tesha was having trouble with the band on her new goggles. She palmed the ball in one hand and snatched the band off with the other hand. She then launched the band into the stands before adjusting her goggles on her face. All while holding the palmed ball away from the closely guarding defender a' la, Wilt Chamberlain. She then made a good pass on the perimeter, crashed the boards and secured an offensive rebound and scored put back! She ran up the court clapping at her own accomplishments. She knew that sequence was worthy of self adulation.

Wendy Knight- The sophomore guard for Reagan finished with 15 points(paper had it wrong at 13) on a limited number of shots. She hit big shots, including a huge three and a big time pull up jumper in the face of a defender. In the two games vs Wagner and Steele, Knight averaged 16.5 pts while shooting above 50%. Knight is heady and does not wilt under pressure. In the crucial part of the game, it was Knight who was charged with making out of bounds passes vs Wagner's denial defense. She directed her teammates to flash to the middle vs the 3/4 court zone press, she ensured the spacing of the Rattler offense was appropriate to defeat help side defenders. Knight is regarded as one of the best prospects in the state for 2014 and is heavily recruited. She showed why this past week.

Adriane Davis- Davis is a Division 1 guard! I have been on the fence about her projected level, settling on Division 2 as her destination up until know, but no more. Davis has turned on that D1 switch. She always possessed the speed, quickness and tenacity on the defensive end to be elite. She has always been an aggressive slasher with a good handle. Now she is stretching the defense with the 3ball. She hit two huge three pointers to keep her team in the game. She still takes plenty of chances that end up being ill advised at times but it is that kind of moxie that allows her to be fearless and good! In a huge win over Top 10 Churchill earlier in the week, the University of Colorado came out to see Churchill star Leslie Vorpahl. The scout left with an additional file to open on the kid with 25 points and stellar defense, Adriane Davis.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Rest In Peace!

The San Antonio basketball community mourns the loss of Oklahoma State coaches Kurt Budke and Miranda Serna. Many local kids attended the Oklahoma State Elite Camp this past June and had the opportunity to get to know both.

The loss of Coach Serna was taken especially hard for a few local prospects. Coach Serna visited Johnson High School and Boerne High school on numerous occasions last year.

A conversation with Coach Serna this past Monday is ringing in my head. Her enthusiasm and love for her job and school made you want to visit Oklahoma State and view what her excitement was about.

God Bless the family of all those that lost their lives in the plane crash. Thank you Coach Miranda Serna for touching so many of our lives!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Mid-November Quick Hitters!

-Brandeis should be a playoff team this season. Here is why:

College Players- Brandeis has 6 players capable of playing beyond high school. Mykel Costley, Hannah Thomspon, Rose Maldonado, Alyssa Browne, Kelsey Glassburn and Amara Parker all should have opportunities to play at some level after their high school careers are over.

Coach John Ince- Coach Ince is one of the few coaches in the city who consistently changes defenses multiple times in a game. This practice keep opposing teams from establishing a rhythm offensively.

27-5A- Jay and Stevens are a lock to come out of the district. While O'Conner's star, Ebony Easter, seems to be on a mission, they may not be deep enough to overcome Brandeis depth. Clark should make some noise but Brandeis should finish 3rd in the district.

- Stevens is a nightmare match up. Here is why:

They Defend Extremely Well- They defend extremely well with different looks and objectives. They press full court to create scoring opportunities through turnovers. They play a long passive aggressive half court trap to minimize the opportunities of the best perimeter player on offense. Then they bring a super aggressive Man defense that features great on ball defenders, Elexus Allen and Samira Rodriguez to harass the oppositions best ball handler. Allen and her long quick 6'0 frame causes on set of problems and then comes the small pit bull tenaciousness and speed of Rodriguez.

They are Deep- Stevens can go 8-9 deep with college caliber kids. The young and talented kids that can score. They have shooters. They have slashers. They have a true big body post option in Deleesha Monroe. They can bring a 6'0 jumping bean off of the bench in Amalya Lewinson.

They are Balanced- Samantha Herrera, Nicole Salazar and Julia Rendon can shoot the 3 well. They provide a solid threat to stretch the defense. They allow the slashers to have spacing to operate. They ability to hit the 3ball and attack the basket enables Stevens have a balanced scoring attack.

- Vying for the Top Spot for 2013:

Moriah Mack- Mack had 18 huge points in a big win over a very good Steele team. Mack has long been considered a remarkable talent. This blog predicted a Jessica Kuster-like breakout year from her and she is on track to do so. (Averaging 11.6 pts for the #2 team in city)

Brooke Allemand- Allemand had a great showing vs Canyon while being guarded by Chamaya Turner for most of the game. Her 22 points followed a 29 point performance in the first game of the season. All while playing the point guard and facing the brunt of the defense focus. (Averaging 19.3pts)

Chamaya Turner- Turner has been the best kid in the city for 2013 for two years. She stepped into Allemand's territory and hit 6 three point buckets against her in a close loss Tuesday. If Turner can consitently knock down jumpers, watch out!( Averaging 19.5 pts)

Leslie Vorpahl- Like Jay star Destiny Amezquita, Vorpahl saw the nasty side of the Twins, Adrina and Aundrea Davis on Tuesday. Vorpahl has played a more challenging schedule than Allemand or Turner so far. As predicted by this blog, Vorpahl has some adjustment this season as she is the obvious point of opposing defenders affection. She is getting the same treatment that Johnson's Recee' Caldwell received last season. Facing Box & 1 defenses in 5-A basketball is not easy! (Averagng 10 points)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

College Connections!

Mizzou stars Christine Flores(Churchill) an Breena Brock(Wagner) pose w/ one of the Finest young fans in the city!

-2011 POY, Erica Donovan (Jay)led NC State in scoring in her first college game w/ 11 points.

- Danielle Blagg (Smithson Valley)has started her first two college games scoring 9 and 11 points.

- Former Churchill star, Chirstine Flores moved into the Top 5 in career blocks for Mizzou.

- Speaking of Flores, she and Breena Brock(Wagner) combined for 53 points in win over TAMUCC

-Monica Engleman is a star! The former Madison forward is a consistent double digit scorer for Kansas. This blog faced some criticism when she was ranked as the best player in her class of 2009 for the city. The dissent has quieted!

-Meaghan Simmons(Steele) played in front more than 12,000 for her season opener against Pepperdine!

- Asha Hampton-Finch(Roosevelt) earned 31 minutes in a huge win over Rice in her first game.

- Speaking of Asha, her first assignment was to guard former district foe, Jessica Kuster(Reagan). Kuster tallied 22 pts and 18 rebounds in the loss to PAVU!

Distinguished Visitors!

Some local kids have some distinguished visitors coming to town:

Brooke Allemand(2013): University of New Mexico and UTSA on Tuesday

Leslie Vorpahl(2013): New Mexico State last Wednesday and Colorado on Tuesday.

Recee' Caldwell(2014): Missouri last Saturday. Oklahoma, TCU and Texas on Tuesday. Duke next Tuesday.

Briana Jones(2013)- UTSA is taking in her game tonight

Kyra Lambert(2015)- UTSA is viewing the match up vs Reagan.

Wendy Knight(2014)- UTSA is viewing the match up vs Steele

Chamaya Turner- UTSA viewing game vs Boerne Champion

Monday, November 14, 2011

Niaga signs!

Roosevelt star, Niaga Mitchell-Cole signs w/ UTSA!

Erica Hernandez signing pic!

Floresville star, Erica Hernandez signs w/ Southeastern Louisiana!

All-Timberland Team!

In a new feature, I will highlight some of the players in the city who do the grunt work. These players may not get the recognition of higher profile teammates but they put in the work to help their teams go. These are the kids that do the dirty work and are "extra possession kids".

Samira Rodriguez(2013)- The gritty guard for Stevens is a headache defensive match up for opposing guards. She came up huge in a season opening win over Churchill. She gave standout guard Leslie Vorpahl a tough time. She followed up with a great effort to slow down Recee' Caldwell in a loss to Johnson in Corpus Christi Tournament championship game. Samara is quick and physical. She plays with moxy and is becoming one of my favorite players to watch.

Bailey Ulrich(2012)- The undersized post is tough! In a game vs Austin Westlake and their 6'2 post, Ulrich was down right nasty. She fronted her, pushed her with lower body leverage and she out hustled her to loose basketball balls. Johnson does not win that game without Ulrich efforts.

Jasmine Thompson(2015)- The frosh post for Mac is a game changer. She immediately makes her presence felt with big time boards. She is very active on both ends of the floor. She is the Dennis Rodman of the city. Besides defending and boarding, she is averaging 10 points early.

Jamee Jorgenson(2014)- Jorgenson is a double digit rebounder for a high scoring Boerne Champion team. She is the hard screen setter and cleans up the numerous long attempts shot by her gunning teammates. Her huge hands and hockey strong body allows her to rebound out of area and bang with the best bigs in the city.

Mikki Flores- The Churchill frosh is an energizer for her team. She is a floor burn kid that dives for every loose ball. She is a pretty good young scorer but she is huge on the defensive end of the floor. I have seen Flores actually dive for the steal while an offensive player was dribbling. Incredible motor!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Monet signs on the dotted line

Monet Neal (Taft)signs with Houston Baptist University yesterday!

Tabatha makes it official!

Tabatha Richardson-Smith signs with Seton Hall yesterday.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Signing Day!

Elena Gumbs and Fam signs(Rice) on the dotted line!

Today is the first day that players can sign Letter of Intents . Congrats to all you young Stars! Your hard work has paid off. In a conversation with a very proud father, he stated that his daughters' scholarship is worth over $250,000 over the four years! Talk about a making a good investment.

Opening Days Quick Hitters

Though the season is still very new, some early hints signal a different year and new standouts.

Anissa Hastings and Stevens- This blog named Stevens the #10 ranked team in the city. The Stevens team showed the entire city that they are underrated. Coach Anissa Hastings is too underrated. Her team mirrors her passionate coaching style with hard nosed defense. No zones! She makes sure she gets after it and instills an "us against them" mentality. Hastings must be commended for keeping her cool in the big victory over Churchill(preseason #5). The Churchill crowd surprised many onlookers with the verbal assaults toward Hastings and her Stevens group. She steadily led her squad to a 1 point win over one of the better teams and coaches in the city, Cal Wulfsberg. In a telling play, Hastings showed that her X and O ability is first rate. Churchill caused a turnover with 10 seconds left in the game, down by 1 point. The ball was under the Churchill basket. Wulfsberg called a timeout to draw up a set, a baseline drift play to the weak side shooter. The beautiful thing about Hasting's defensive strategy is that she forced the ball to the left side of the floor, thus making the baseline drift pass difficult because it had to be thrown accurately with the Churchill player's weak hand. The result was a turnover, game time.

Johnson High School- A local high school coach was overheard saying that "all they(Johnson) have is Caldwell" as he smirked to his audience. Another coach bragged to a D1 visiting coach that he "beat them(Johnson) 30 twice" last season. Opening day showed that those days are long gone. Gabbie Bowie(2014) introduced herself to the city with 20 points and numerous rebounds over Taft. Erica Sanders (2015) provided a few electric moments telling the uninformed of her promising future. Morgan Stern may be the difference maker when it is all said and done. The standout soccer player has the body, athleticism and grit to give Johnson the physical presence versus elite Bigs. Coach Audra Bredemeyer has picked up the defensive pace and is pressuring all over the court. The 30 point win over Taft exhibited the bright outlook for Johnson.

East Central- East Central beat Roosevelt last night 48-46. Apparently, East Central is no longer an easy out.

Brooke Allemand- This blog stated that Brooke Allemand(Champion) would lead the area in scoring. She backed up that proclamation on Monday night with 29 points, including seven 3 balls. Allemand hit over 100 treys last season.

Wagner #1?- Wagner made its case of being #1 in the city with a solid victory over Jay last night. Wagner holds a couple advantages over most teams in the city, namely, the Twins! Adriane and Aundrea Davis are nightmare defenders for opposing guards. Individually, they are quick and aggressive. They both get into defenders hips and stay low on defensive slides. However, it is the help side defense of their teammates that make them very good. Their aggressive on ball stances inevitably lead to some ball handlers getting by them. That's when the Wagner weak side defense picks up the slack and makes scoring against them very tough. 2013 post, Tesha Smith will lead the city in rebounds. The word most used to describe "Smitty" by onlookers is BEAST. She is one of the few kids in the city that volleyball spikes opponents shots. She reportedly had 7 blocks last night vs Jay.

Mismatches- The opening days showed huge disparities in the city basketball programs. Incarnate Word, Johnson, Brennan, Sam Houston, Southwest, and Johnson all won by 25 pints or more. Steele and Brandeis throttled their opponents by 50 plus!

Reagan- The Rattlers made their case for #1 in the city by beating a good Judson team at Judson. The return of Sabrina Berry, out for personal reasons, may vault them to the top of the city rankings.

Huge Games- Reagan faces both Steele(11/15) and Wagner(11/18) next week in a battle of Top 5 teams in the city. Johnson may face Stevens in Corpus Christi this weekend. Churchill has a tough schedule and faces Steele(11/15), Wagner(11/21) and Jay(11/29) over the next few weeks.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Our Best to a SA great.

Former Taft star, Lyndsey Cloman has reportedly torn her ACL and is out for the season. Cloman is a junior post for Oklahoma University. We wish her a speedy recovery.

November Quick Hitters!

Shana Holmes shining already for Harding! FIT!!!!

November marks the start of another great basketball season. It also marks the start of a new chapter in local players lives as they sign National Letter of Intents next week. Here are a few quick hitters.

  • Tabatha Richardson-Smith will sign with Seton Hall. The former SA area player for Seguin verbally committed last week. The remarkable thing about her commit is her journey. Richardson-Smith is a 6'0 guard with a flair for the game. She prefers to play with boys and spent the preseason at her new school, Bay City High in Houston, practicing with the boys team, not the girls. Tabatha had a very tough time at Seguin. She was stuck in an environment that put very little emphasis on girls basketball. It is very difficult to shine in a situation where your passion is treated as a hobby, but shine Tabatha did! Tabatha sought refuge with her club Sophia Young Elite and found herself playing the NCAA October Fall Exposure period playing in front of many college suitors. While she was already well known to many D1 schools, Tabatha took advantage of the fall period to showcase her skills. Her club coach, Mike Ekenam, also sent video to numerous schools and worked diligently to help her get additional looks.(He called one of the best and most progressive coaches in the city and asked her for tape on Tabatha, even though Tabatha was not her kid. Of course she helped provide the tape that warranted a personal visit from Seton Hall!) Seton Hall is led by women's basketball legend, Anne Donovan. Congrats Tabatha! Your perserverence paid off! Your passion is too strong to be deminshed!

  • Speaking of taking advantage of the Fall Exposure Period, point guard extraordinaire,Leslie Vorpahl made a Western Athletic Conference coach stand up and take notice. The Churchill pg put on a show with her SA Heat team. The school will be in San Antonio to visit her at school on November 9th.

  • In a SA area battle, Southwest scoring great Shana Holmes(South Texas Hoyas) led her Division 2 Harding University squad to a win over Lipscomb. The Divison 1 Lipscomb features former La Vernia star, Chealsea McMeans(TeamXpress). Holmes led all scorers with 14 points and McMeans chipped in with 4 points for her team.

  • To follow San Antonio area action starting on Monday, text "follow shesballinsouth" to 40404. We will be covering games throughout the city with the help of numerous correspondents. Tuesday coverage includes Wagner vs Jay, Reagan vs Judson, Johnson vs Taft.

  • My San Antonio with "5 burning questions" and "Preseason Predictions".

Sunday, October 30, 2011

More Future Stars! And a Star Maker!

The YBOA Alamo City All-Stars hosted the Halloween Fest Invitational and some standouts deserve some recognition:

Olivia Balderas( SA Hustlers)- The 2017 guard is nice! She is the rare young kid that possesses ball handling and body swag to accompany it. She moves defenders with her head , shoulders and eyes. This enables her to set defenders up for her tight handle. Her go to move is a nasty hesitation dribble that freezes defenders. She counters the "hezzo" with a hard cross over that leaves defenders left standing still. On top of a handle with swag, Balderas can shoot the 3 ball, off of the dribble! In the face of defenders! She's real, a Box & 1 kid that has a bright future.

Demi Colon( Da Bomb/2017)- Colon has been on the radar for a while but know must be respected as one of the most talented pups in the city. She is long guard with very good instincts and plays with the street ball flare of a girl who plays with and against boys often. She does things like jumps to pass, while not the most fundamental thing to do, it helps her create opportunities to set up her teammates very well. She plays under control and has added a deft runner from 8-12 feet. Her arms and legs seem to go on for days. Defensively, she is an aggressive ball hawking defender that times her on-ball steals like a seasoned veteran. Her name will ring out at South San HS in a few years!

Tony Cuellar(SA Finest/2018)- Cuellar put on a show with a display of mid-range jumpers, forays to the rack, and coast to coast set ups for her teammates. The smooth lefty was a zone buster all tournament with huge jumpers from the high post. She rebounds well and has the ability to lead the break. Cuellar has the advanced ability to finish lay ups outside her body with an assortment of baby hooks, finger rolls and timely scoops.

Roland Perez- The head coach of "Da Bomb" is one of many club coaches that live for the weekends. He reportedly is coach, driver, trainer, financial supporter and father figure to many of his players. Anyone that has seen "Da Bomb" since it's inception has seen the progression of his kids. Coach Perez should be applauded. He is the kind of guy that reminds all of us why we got into girls basketball. Coach Perez is not paying for 6 foot 5th graders to play in a hopes of earning props for winning AAU National Championships. He does not have a website to broadcast how many D1 kids he has in his stable, in a pursuit of a shoe contract or personal glory. He wakes up on Sunday mornings and coaches 8am games for a lot of kids that will use basketball as a constructive activity to be productive. Kudos Coach! Thanks for the slice of humble pie, a lot of us need it!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

SA Pre-Season Top 10 HS Teams: Complete List!

  1. Jay

  2. Steele

  3. Wagner

  4. Reagan

  5. Churchill

  6. Johnson

  7. Floresville

  8. Brennan

  9. Judson

  10. Stevens

Knocking on the Door:

Roosevelt- Coach Rhineberger had arguably the most talent in the city last year. The senior laden team lost 3 college basketball players but Roosevelt is still a factor. Niaga Mitchell-Cole can lead the city in scoring if the stars align. Hidden gem Maunyea Melancon(2014) is a star if she wants to be! 2015 wing Endia Peterson is a Top 5 kid in the city for that class and the watch out for 6'2 big body rebounding machine, Ayanna "Yani" Atkins. Roosevelt CAN be very good and one of the top teams in the city.

Boerne Champion- Johnathan Tate and his high scoring system will win well over 20 games and challenge for a district title. Brooke Allemand is making her case as the top player for 2013 in the city and Heather Hormuth is a potential double double kid this season. Amanda Willoughby and Jamee Jorgenson will make names for themselves this season.

Incarnate Word- Tori Villareal will have her Shamrocks ready to play. The loss of "Mo" Zuniga may be too much to overcome for Incarnate Word in an attempt to duplicate last years success. Coach Troy Patterson defense is traditionally stingy and his offense causes problem for most teams to defend.

Brandies- John Ince has some quality returners in seniors Rose Maldonado and Alysse Brown. Talented sophomores Hannah Thompson and Mykel Costley give the Broncos at least 4 players that will have the opportunity to play beyond high school.

Taft- Any school in the city with multiple college bound PLAYERS must be considered and respected. Monet Neal is bound for Houston Baptist(D1) and Kiara Smith will surely play at the next level. They combine to form an athletic presence on the wings.

Clemens- Coach Tackitt has an athletic team that features D1 commit Senobia Winbush. "TT" Booker and Sabrina Cantigal are young and aggressive off of the bounce.

San Antonio Top 10 Teams in City: 6 thru 10

In the second installment of the preseason Top 10 teams in the city, teams 6 through 10 are covered.

6. Johnson- The Lady Jags are in new territory. Basketball respect is now due for the recently opened school. After a D1 college coach visited the campus and told a competing local high school coach about the talent at Johnson, the coach howled that he beat Johnson by 30 twice last year. An exaggerated claim but those days are over. Baylor bound and USA 16u guard Recee' Caldwell has some help in El Paso transfer and D1 bound Gabbi Bowie. Bowie is as athletic a kid as any in the city. Her pull up jumper from 15 is text book. Johnson also has a Top 3 Player in the city for 2015, Erica Sanders. Sanders is another D1 bound and very athletic guard with great open court scoring ability. Coach Audra Bredemeyer has added another quality transfer in 5'11 soccer star, Morgan Stern. Katie Burcham and Brie Foresman give Johnson a team of at least 5 players that are capable of scoring double digits on any given night. The unknown dynamic of going from little talent to possibly too much is the only thing keeping them out of my Top 3 in the city. If pecking order and offensive cohesion are established, Johnson could be the best team in the city. However, they are probably still a year away.

7. Floresville- The Floresville Tigers can play with bigger schools because of two words; Talent and Coaching! Southeastern Louisiana bound scoring machine Erica Hernandez will be out to put an exclamation point on a great HS career. Hernandez is one of the few kids in the city who can consistently create her own shot off of the bounce. She is joined by another efficient scorer in Brittany Aikens. Aikens is poised for a big senior year to help solidify her eventual college standing. Add the very physically strong post , Shelby Leinneweber and the Tigers should make noise on the city's scene. Coach Greg Williams is a disciplined tactician that allows his best players to do what they do best, play. A one point loss to a Top 5 Reagan team last season and blow out over a good young Brennan team shows that

8. Brennan- The Bears return all of their players from a district championship team last season. The super gifted Tanaeya Boclair gives the Brennan the best post scorer in the city. 2013 guard Alyssa Crockett is not only one of the most improved players in the city but she is the spiritual leader of the team. Her tenacious attitude and play makes her one of the toughest guards to contain in the city. She will live at the free throw line. Coach Randy Evans is a very adept coach and employs numerous defensive strategies to disrupt opponents. Watch for the emergence of 6'1 2014 post player, Eliza Martinez. She is a rebounding space eater that can blocks shots and will allow the aggressive guards of Brennan to pressure all over the court. The supporting cast at Brennan is impressive and they will go 8-9 deep. If Evans can hold off a strong Boerne Champion team, Brennan has a great shot at winning 4 district titles in a row.

9. Judson- Judson is always loaded with athletic players that play hard and this year's team is no different. The difference in helping the Rockets realize their potential is this is year two of the Triva Corrales era at Judson. Corrales is arguably the brightest coach in the city in terms of game adjustments and dictating tempo. Judson has a very capable PG in Samantha Allen. The wing play of LB Brown and Shameka Brown will produce defensive steals and create the type of turnovers not usually seen in local HS basketball. Sharp shooting guard Krissy Chavez will get a ton of open looks due to the slashing of the Brown sisters and Allen. Look for a breakout year from forward Simone Fields, who must make up for the huge loss of Cheyenne Miller to injury.

10. Stevens- Anissa Hastings is a coach that kids will run through walls for. That type of loyalty, defensive intensity and passion will make Stevens one of the best teams in the city. The very talented young players from Stevens will help veterans like Niclole Salazar and Elexus Allen. Allen is long and terrific on defense. Salazar is a savvy PG that is a tough and spirited leader. Keep an eye on Amalya Lewison and Deleesha Monroe at the 4 & 5 positions. Knowing Hastings, this will be one of the best defensive teams in the city. Losing Western Kentucky guard Alexis Govan and the sharp shooting Alexis Sendejo will be impossible to replace but the current Falcon team can not be taken lightly.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Immacculate(a) Night!

Paying homage to the rich history of the game, local stars had a movie night out to see The Mighty Macs. Over 35 players with San Antonio Finest Basketball skipped skill sessions to view the inspirational tale of Immaculata University. Above from left to right, Amber Ramirez(2016 Heritage MS), Shameka Brown(2014 Judson HS), Kayla White(2013 East Central) and LB Brown(2013 Judson) get dolled up to see the movie.

Amber Ramirez is a certified Division 1 player before playing her 8th grade season. She catapulted on the college landscape this summer with a bang. A couple of 30 point performances against 2012 players that have already pledged commitments to BCS programs marked Ramirez as one of the best young 2016 prospects in the nation. One report, the west coast based Next Level Sport Service has her in their Top 10 nationally.

Shameka Brown is one of the best kept secrets in the city. The sophomore guard scored in droves while playing on JV last season. Shameka had a great summer that put her on the minds on numerous Division 1 universities such as the University of North Texas and University of Texas Arlington.

Kayla White is primed for a breakout year for East Central. The uber athletic guard is ready to take off. Playing on varsity as a frosh and soph, it is know her time to provide the veteran leadership for the Hornets. White has a 30 inch plus vertical leap and is track star fast. She had the kind of summer that made schools such as UMKC, Rice and Prairie View A&M all keep close tabs on her progress.

LB Brown is not only the older sister of Shameka Brown but a two year starter for Judson. The former District New Comer of the Year is another very athletic kid with top speed in the open court. LB has tightened up her handle and 17 foot jumper. She will prove to be a nightmare to defend at the 3-4 spot this season. She is another kid who helped her standing with colleges this summer with Wichita St, , UTEP, and multiple Ivy league schools reaching out to her.

The story of the Mighty Macs is a must see for young aspiring female basketball players. The movie is a good one, but should serve as an introduction to further research for basketball lovers. The Immaculata team was lead by Hall of Famer, Cathy Rush. The success of Rush is remarkable in and of itself, but her contribution to women's college basketball is astounding. Her coaching tree has roots that are as deep as it gets.

Theresa Shank Grentz played for Immaculata and went on to win over 670 games at schools such as Rutgers, Illinois and St Josephs. She led the USA to a bronze medal in 1992.

Marianne Crawford Stanley too played for Coach Rush at Immaculata and has won over 400 games at the college level. She has coach as USC, Cal, and Penn. She won an NCAA title while at Old Dominion in 1985. She has coached WNBA franchises Los Angeles Sparks and Washington Mystics.

Rene Portland has won more than 600 games while coaching at Colorado and Penn State University. She led the Nittany Lions to a Final Four appearance and over 20 post season trips.

Through the contributes of the Grentz, Stanley and Portland, Coach Rush has indirectly been responsible for more than 1600 victories at the Division 1 level!

(Side note: UTSA assistant coach Lubomyr "Luby" Lichonczak is a close associate of Marianne Crawford Stanley and coached along with her for the Washington Mystics. Speaking of history, Coach Luby is an encyclopedia on the women's game.)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Rough Riding Road Runner!

Niaga Mitchell-Cole has decided to stay home! The Roosevelt star has chosen to attend the University of Texas San Antonio to play basketball. The best player in the city for the class of 2012,according to this blog, has decided to join the other candidate for tops in 2012, Sabrina Berry, at UTSA. The Roadrunners scrimmaged the University of Texas on Saturday and drove home from Austin knowing that the immediate future of the program just got a lot brighter.

Mitchell-Cole is a potential difference maker. Her size and skill at the guard position could make her a Roadrunner great. When projecting talent, fit and upside are always a huge consideration. I have long felt that with Niaga, the sky is the limit. For the last three years, I have chronicled the potential for greatness in Mitchell-Cole. The local high school fans have yet to see how truly amazing she can be. Her high school system is one of ball control and establishing tempo. This disciplined system offers little opportunity for her creativity and athletic prowess to shine. Just wait! The Dribble Drive Motion Offense and open post spacing of UTSA Coach Rae Blair will expose Niaga in a new light! The four guard system that encourages attacking dribble penetration and proper spacing will allow Niaga to grow. Mitchell-Cole plans to sign on 11-11-11. Anyone that has had the opportunity to get to know Niaga would understand why the date of her planned signing is as unique as the personality of the South Texas Hoyas guard.

Niaga opens up during a Q & A and explains why UTSA was the place for her. Her responses are in red.

1. First off, congrats on your decision. How does it feel to know that your hard work has paid off and you will play basketball beyond high school?

Its a great feeling knowing that all of my hard work in the gym and sacrifices I've made have paid off. I'm extremely thankful and blessed to have the opportunity to play at the next level!

2. What made you decide on UTSA and how hard was the decision to make in terms of choosing them over the other suitors?

The decision was tough because I'm a very analytical person so it really came down to the small details. In the end I decided to pick UTSA because it was what I felt,was the best fit for me.

3. You are the 1st high profile kid in the city's recent history to choose UTSA, how does it feel to be a trail blazer and how do you think your decision will affect others players in the city.

"Trail Blazer"??? Ha...I'm just little ol' Niaga(Ni-ah-zha)...No but seriously, I feel it's an honor to open the door for many young girls who may have the perception of staying close to home as being an "underachievement"...I view it as the complete opposite. It's a huge accomplishment because to me, there's no greater feeling than to live out your dream with the support of the people you love right by your side.

4. With UTSA set to join the Western Athletic Conference next season, did that have any impact on your decision? And how does the move help enhance your future college career.

UTSA moving to the WAC did have an impact on my decision. While I respect what they've done in the Southland Conference, the WAC will bring a different style/level of competition and in turn, challenge me to be a better player.

5. The recruiting process can be overwhelming at times, was the experience a good one for you? If so, what did you enjoy about the process?

Even though the recruiting process was a little overwhelming at times, my experience through the process,as a whole, was great. I had the opportunity to meet new people and travel to new places. I also had an enormous amount of expertise from Coach Nunn & Coach Berger to keep me sane and level-headed and they really made the process run a lot smoother!

6. Without going into specifics, what did you not enjoy about the recruiting process?

The rejection process was the hardest for me because even though those schools weren't the best fit for me, it's always hard telling someone that you're choosing to go a different route.

7. What role do you see yourself playing for the Roadrunners?

Their lineups have typically been smaller, and I feel I will bring size and length on both ends of the court at the guard spot.

8. Even though the saying goes that you should not choose a school based on a coach, what was it about Coach Blair and her staff that made you see that UTSA is the place for you?

I'm huge on fit and being around Coach Blair and her staff made me feel like I was in the right place because of their style of play, combined experience, and resources to take me to the next level!

9. Do you know the fight song yet? And if so, will you sing it on this blog in the upcoming weeks?! If not, WHY?

Yes I heard it at a recent football game and SURE I'll sing it on the blog ...IF you sing it with me! :)

10. How many official visits did you take? How would you rate that experience?

I took 3 official visits and each visit brought their own uniqueness...of course UTSA prevailed because of the overall experience and great atmosphere the coaching staff,players, & administrators provided while I was there.

11. A few new schools became very interested in you over the past couple of weeks, what made you decide to not pursue the new opportunities?

Even though I was thankful for the new interests from schools, I was already leaning toward my decision and because of that I decided to not pursue those other options.

12. What advice would you give local prospects in terms of the recruiting process?

The best advice I could give is to Do your research, take your time, take everything in...and stay in control of the process don't let it control you!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Top 5 Teams in City!

With the first day of practice arriving, the preseason Top 10 Teams will be noted. Today's blog covers teams 1 through 5.

1. John Jay
Jay will be the team to beat this season due to their experience and culture. The Lady Mustangs expect to be the best in the city and their approach reflects this mindset. Coach Mike Floyd does the best job in the city at establishing pecking order. The Jay players know who the boss is on and off of the court. The ball will be in the hands of scoring machine Destiny Amezquita . Destiny will bring her trademark range and play making ability to bear this season as she is fully recovered from an ACL injury. One of the most improved players in the city and a “hot” kid is Aleeya Harris. Harris will have a breakout year for the Mustangs. Add 6’3 rebounding machine and space eater, Raven Reyes to the mix and the Mustangs have a physically strong team. Sophomore Antania Newton will show why she entered high school with such a great reputation. The bully ball toughness of the Lady Mustangs was at its best with NC State player Erica Donovan in the fold, however, that same tenacity and toughness is still ingrained in the current team.

2. Steele
Talent wins, ask Phil Jackson! Steele has 3 of the Top 20 players in the city in Elena Gumbs, McKenzie Calvert and Freshman Kyra Lambert. Kari Wallace has balanced the incredible amount of talent that she has inherited the last few years with great success. If another top freshman in the city, Bri Millett fits into Coach Wallace’s plans, this would give Steele four D1 players on the same team. That SHOULD spell success. Gumbs does not have the pressure of playing for a scholarship as she is already slated for Rice. Calvert is committed to Baylor and Lambert should have her pick of schools when all is said and done. If these players can play together and Coach Wallace has the system to keep all of this talent pacified, Steele could find their way to Austin. The lack of size in the middle should not hurt much in the area as few teams have post players that can score effectively in the post.

3. Wagner
Wagner must always be in the discussion for top in the city honors. The Thunderbirds are fresh off of another trip to Austin. They return 5 major contributors from that Final Four team; Corinna Moncada, Adriane Davis, Aundrea Davis, Kiarra Rivera and Ashley Ross. Ross is a Top 10 talent in the city, regardless of class. She is unfortunately out for the first portion of the season due to injury. When Ross returns, Wagner will play its trademark pressure defense and wear teams down. Coach Tina Camacho has not lost a district game in 4 years and can strategize with the best that the city has to offer. Camacho does a great job off mixing up her defenses in the flow off the game to keep teams off balance. The culture of Wagner girl’s basketball promotes success. Camacho instills an ethic that encourages her players to go beyond. The constant attacking of the Davis twins, coupled with the tough inside play of Kiarra Rivera will prove to be a tough out. Moncada is a fearless defender and gives the Thunderbirds four capable ball handlers against pressure. The loss of Arielle Roberson (Colorado) and Eboni Watkins(UTA) will surely hurt but Wagner does not rebuild, they reload.

4. Reagan
Terry Barton is one of the better X & O’s coaches in the city and has the talent this year to match. Many think that the Rattlers will be the top team in the city. Reagan has three D1 players in Sabrina Berry (UTSA), Moriah Mack and Wendy Knight. All three players scored in double digits last season. This balance allows Coach Barton to solve junk defenses employed by some teams to slow down star players. Three proficient scorers prove very difficult to defend. The ability of all three players to attack off the dribble makes Reagan a nightmare matchup for most. Post player Corrigan Tibbs is much improved and should average double digits in rebounds. Point guard Tessa Ramirez should step into the void left by Marissa Rodriguez and provide scoring and leadership. In a city where 50 points is enough to win basketball games on a consistent basis, Reagan’s big three gives them a leg up on most teams in the city. Come play off time, no local coach is going to want to see Reagan on their schedule.

5. Churchill
The “Wulf” howled and prowled his way to an outstanding season last year. Coach Cal Wulfburg was masterful in his strategies and sideline politicking in his inaugural season. No coach lobbied officials and made them compete against each other for his favor like Wulfsburg. The way he employed his “1-3 Denial” defense had many opposing coaches baffled. He put the play making decisions in the hands of the purest point guard in the city, Leslie Vorpahl. Vorpahl is a coach’s dream with her ability to make others better. She will have to score a lot more this season with the move of Carly Truesdale. Jordan Holub is back and is a very proficient high school scorer. Dani Espinoza should make up for Truesdale’s missing shots (points) by averaging a double double in her senior year. Churchill will not have the same firepower as last season but that may be a blessing in disguise. Look for The Wulf to unleash Vorpahl for a monster year. Ironically, his team has gotten easier to defend with the loss of Truesdale. His own Box and 1 like tactics may know be used against him to disable his attack. Look for Vorpahl to face constant double teams and rack up the minutes going into play offs. How she holds up for 35 games will determine the success of the Chargers come February.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Niaga Sweepstakes!

Niaga Mitchell-Cole was named by this blog as the best player in the city for the class of 2012. The main reason, upside!!! Mitchell-Cole is a very gifted player already but the sky is the limit for the athletic guard for Roosevelt. The sweepstakes for her services at the collegiate level is heating up and she has narrowed her chooses down to three school; UTSA, Texas State and Weber State. I will make a case for her final choices and make my prediction.

Why Weber State?

Weber State has a brand new coaching staff. The Utah school is led by former Louisville assistant coach, Beth Ord. Coach Ord has coached at BCS schools Colorado, Pittsburgh, and Auburn before landing at Louisville. I had a great opportunity to get to know Coach Ord while she was at Louisville and her passion is infectious. She has brought that same enthusiasm that she recruited McDonald All-American Shoni Schimmel to Louisville with to San Antonio a few weeks ago in her pursuit of Mitchell-Cole. Her staff has been recruiting Niaga for years even before landing at Weber State. Assistant Margaret Richards was previously at North Texas and took her love for Niaga to Utah. The staff also has more Texas ties with assistant coach Devan Newman. Coach Newman father is Don Newman, assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs. All three previously mentioned Weber State coaches visited Niaga a few weeks ago. That kind of presence is not the norm. Niaga would be a MAJOR recruit for the Weber State staff to land as she is a BCS caliber talent. They showed a strong presence in San Antonio to illustrate the importance of her to their future plans. Niaga reportedly enjoyed her official visit to Weber State.

Why Texas State?

Texas State also has a new head coach in Zenarae Antoine. Coach "Z", as she is known, is also a former assistant with BCS ties in Louisville and more recently, Arkansas. In her previous role in Arkansas, I had the pleasure of getting to know her through the recruiting process. She is a tenacious recruiter and has a great knowledge of game. She has reportedly expressed to Micthell-Cole that she is the most prized recruit for her staff and the ball would be in her hands from day one. The close proximity of Texas State to San Antonio is a plus. Former Stevens guard Bree Dawson was the Niaga's tour guide during her recent official visit. Texas State is moving to the Western Athletic Conference and the move is presumed to be an upgrade on the national scene. Texas State has been to San Antonio on numerous occasions to show their intent to land Mitchell-Cole. Texas State would be just far enough to get away from home without getting too far away from home. Coach Z has had helped numerous players develop into outstanding players including WNBA star, Angel McCoughtry.


UTSA has put on the full court press for Mitchell-Cole. The football game with 30,000 people, Roadrunner Ruckus featuring enthusiastic students and hanging out with team veterans on her official visit all help the case of UTSA. Head coach Rae Blair is a players coach. She is not an exaggerated yeller and allows her players the freedom to create. Her offense is guard friendly and features four guards at times. Her staff is diverse and competent. Assistant Coach "Luby" is a former D1 head coach at Radford and assistant for the WNBA Washington Mystics. UTSA is too moving to the WAC to face better competition and that also helps their case. Niaga would be able to play in front of her family, friends and high school coach, whom she is reportedly very close with.

The winner is?

In MY opinion, I am predicting Michell-Cole chooses...... UTSA. The Roadrunners will land the best payer in her class for the first time in recent San Antonio history. In fact, They will have the best two players in the city for 2012 with Mitchell-Cole and Sabrina Berry. Mitchell-Cole will become a great player under the personal development of UTSA assistant Koty Cowgill. Koty is a bright young strategic mind but his ability as a developer is very impressive. Niaga will add a tighter handle and learn to shoot "with a pause" under his training. Assistant coach, San Antonio great and former pro, Tai Dillard is the kind of mentor that will help a young Mitchell-Cole navigate the college landscape and help her thrive. Coach Blair has historically spread the court and allowed her perimeters players to eat. Mitchell-Cole, at 5-11, is a great rebounding guard and will be allowed to push the rock and create for others. The UTSA back courts as of late have been small with Roadrunner great Amber Gregg and the dynamic Whitney "LuLu" York. Niaga will allow UTSA to play big, if they choose to, with the the ultra talented Judy "Judo" Jones in the back court at the same time.

Of course, this is all speculation! Stay tuned! Decision coming October 23rd.