Sunday, January 30, 2011
Early Recruitment- This has been a hot topic as of late and the NCAA is considering legislation restricting the offering of kids scholarships before their junior years. My question is, why the need for the legislation and how would it be enforced?
If the NCAA enacted such policies then the conversation between a kid and a college coach would go from, "I am offering you a scholarship now" to " As soon as I am permitted to offer you a scholarship, you will have an offer". What is the difference between the two statements. If anything, it offers more protection for the school to back out of the commitment with no negative repercussions because no "official offer" was tended. Let's look at a recent case of an area kid.
Lindie Kimbro was a scoring machine for Buda Hays a few yeas ago. Lindie is now a junior at Texas Tech. Kimbro committed to Tech as a sophomore. She then unfortunately popped her ACL in her junior season and again in her senior season. Texas Tech was honorable enough to uphold her commitment. A verbal offer and commitment has no legal standing and Tech could have backed away from Kimbro. If Tech had chosen to back away from Kimbro during her injuries, this would have been a public relations disaster for Tech. Tech would have had to explain why they did not honor their offer to every kid that they were recruiting. Knowing parents would have put Tech on the carpet as to why they did not stand with this kid when she was down. Tech would have been slammed on message boards across the country. Instead, they look like a school that will stand through the tough times with a kid and that is music to the ears to any prospects parents. Here is the question that must be asked, what would have happened if Kimbro had not committed early?
The early commitment is the ONLY time that recruits have SOME form of leverage. Now that sentence just turned off many readers. Some believe that kids are not supposed to have leverage, not in amateur athletics. Let's stop being naive and pretending that amateur athletics plays nice. This is a business and some of the coaches make millions of dollars, as they should. However, the vast dollars consequently make recruiting THE MOST important aspect to earning and maintaining jobs for coaches. My favorite Geno Auriemma quote is " There are only two types of coaches, coaches who coach good players and ex-coaches." This need to secure the best kids mandate that kids know the "brand" of a college at an early age.
(click "Outside the Lines" link at bottom for business of recruiting piece. EYE OPENING!)
Let's look at two different cases and players. Current Baylor star Odyssey Sims committed to Baylor as a freshman in high school. She decommitted for a short time but soon recommitted. She is now being praised as arguably the best point guard in the Big 12, the toughest conference in the country. Now in turn let's look at local legend Meaghan Simmons. Simmons waited until the fall of her senior season to commit to Tennessee. Simmons is now arguably the best scoring guard in the SEC. Both Simmons and Sims are contending for All-American status nationally as freshman. These are two very different examples of recruitment pledges and yet they both have experienced success as a result of their different paths.
A growing sentiment is that all of the early commits have increased the transfer rates of student athletes. That is a great argument and seems plausible as to why so many kids are transferring. However, the early commitments of kids are only part of that growing trend.
In San Antonio terms, let's look at the 2010 class again. I know of three players that have already left their schools of choice as freshmen and ALL three of them committed to their respective schools as SENIORS. I know this is not a large sample pool but obviously the problem is not SOLELY early commitments when considering reducing transfer rates.
Pressure- Steele coach Kari Wallace spoke of "pressure" in the article. In the article, both Caldwell and Calvert's father went on to mention the "security" of early offers and commitments for the young players. Both players have performed on par with other players across the nation that have been tabbed as young elite prospects so any argument of pressure effecting play is baseless. Players like Cheyenne Butler and LaJahna Drummer of St Bernard in California are playing better than more publicized and signed teammates even though they too are class of 2014 and have been offered by many, including Rutgers and USC recently. 2014 Brianna Turner is the leading scorer on the #9 ranked team in the country and she has offers from almost EVERY SCHOOL that she wants an offer from. Houston's Brooke McCarty has offers from a couple of Top 25 teams nationally and she is averaging close to 20 points as a freshman. The story is repeated across the nation. Elite kids are elite for a reason. They have proved themselves versus elite older players and that has resulted in the early offers. The pressure argument is a minor one. ALL high school kids go through pressure. Basketball is a sanctuary for many of these young elite kids. They are comfortable and "at home" on the court. They tend to stay out of situations that truly pressure most high school kids. Teenage drinking, drugs and promiscuous behavior are not conducive to the elite kids agenda, so in a large part, they refrain from those "pressures".
UTSA- Both Calvert and Caldwell discussed that their first offers came from UTSA before high school. The reply to that information should be, OF COURSE! Tennessee offered Lauren Avant as an 8th grader and received a commitment last season from freshman Kaela Davis. Even the most old school coach in history, Bobby Knight offered an 8th grade Damon Bailey close to 20 years ago. How can UTSA have two of the best young players in the nation both living no more than 30 minutes from campus and NOT offer them? This is what UTSA has to start doing to become relevant on the local scene if they want to start to land some of the best players that the city has to offer.
"Branding" these kids at an early age is the only way to have a real chance of earning commitments from the cities best. With the elephant in the room one hour away via Highway 35, UTSA must start to brand early. Texas A&M, Baylor, Texas Tech are all Top 25 in the current AP polls. UT is a perennial Top 25 team. All this national prestige from Texas schools leave UTSA having a tough time recruiting San Antonio kids. Kids like Jessica Kuster are leading teams like Rice in major categories and could be doing the same for the Roadrunners. Numerous San Antonio kids are languishing on the bench of BCS conference schools across the country, feeling miserable with NOT playing. These kids could be playing major minutes for the Runners but were not "branded" with UTSA as a viable option. UTSA should not be the last to offer a kid that is being recruited by the top teams in the country, not if the Roadrunners want to make a trip to NCAA or NIT tournament a yearly occurrence.
(side note: Some of these kids received faulty advise from advisers with alternative agendas. The "higher" a school is considered on national scale, the more it builds resumes for high school coaches, club coaches and trainers. Never mind that most kids consider playing time while pursuing an education important. )
(side note on "Branding"/Business: McDonald's does the best job at branding young kids and lessons can be learned from their efforts. I find it hard to believe that the majority of mature taste buds prefer McDonald's over a places like In & Out, Smash, or Chester's. But we were branded young with marketing and availability, through easy access. The UT network will launch next season and will "brand" the future of Texas basketball players with non-stop UT happenings. All of this incredible coverage, advertising, will cost them how much? Nothing, in fact they will earn $300,000,000 to brand the next generation of ball players!!! But amateur athletics is not a business?)
Some reason that UTSA should not waste time going after kids that are being recruited by the best schools in the nation. Good thing the UNLV and Long Beach State staff of Jerry Tarkanian did not think that way. Or the staff of Butler that recruited a team that lost to the monster called Duke at the buzzer for the NCAA championship last season. Or the BYU team that's currently ranked Top 10 and features the sensational Jimmer(no last name needed!). San Diego State branded a young Kawhi Leonard as a young teen when he lived less than an hour from the school campus. Leonard passed up offers from virtually the entire Pac-10 and other BCS schools. He has now led the small San Diego St. to a Top 10 ranking and is projected as a lottery pick in the NBA draft this season. For UTSA to not try and compete with the big schools for SA's best players would be a defeatist recruiting plan.
-SA Express Article
-Stanford article on Branding
- Outside the Lines on Recruiting " Over the Limit"
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
- Speaking of terrific 2013's, Canyon's Chymaya Turner is ranked in the Top 10 in the city in scoring, assists and rebounds. That is what you call a real triple threat.
- "Daddy, that kid needs a spanking"- A few years ago I heard this comment from a little kid at the grocery store. While waiting in line, a little brat was throwing himself on the ground and having a tantrum. He was kicking and screaming all while throwing himself repeatedly on the hard floor. The mother of the child was helpless and visually embarrassed. Then the sweetest little girl witnessing the tantrum while standing in an adjacent checkout line looked up at her father and said, "Daddy, that kid needs a spanking". I ,along with others who were in line, tried with all of our strength to not laugh out loud in agreement at the girls comment.
I can not help but to think about this little girls comment while watching some local games recently. I have witnessed girls audibly call their coach "stupid" in front of all to see. I recently saw a kid reprimand a coach for not calling a timeout when she felt that one should be called. Things like refusing to high five a coach when substituted or cursing at an assistant coach are some of the antics that have been on display.
I am not advocating corporal punishment but I am bringing to light the increasing disrespect of coaches by some of the local kids. I am sure this is not just a San Antonio thing but this is a San Antonio based blog. Some local coaches may want to take a page out of Bobby Knights book and REDIRECT these tantrums in a constructive way. A chair maybe:)!! As in, sitting a few kids down for their behavior will probably go a long way into instilling life long lessons.
I once overheard Tina Camacho tell the parent of a disgruntled college bound player that it was her way or the highway. She has done this on numerous occasions. She has had college bound players quit the team until they learned that she was the Boss. When a John Jay star began this season with a vow to quit, Mike Floyd's response was rumored to be, "Then quit!". Camacho and Floyd run two of the best programs in the city and the discipline they instill ensures respect from their players. The tantrums from the earlier examples are coming from kids that are hardly college bound basketball players and yet their actions are tolerated. Camacho and Floyd understand that you prepare kids for college(and life) by not allowing them to throw tantrums and be disrespect to authority and still play!!!
Player /School/ Team Games(Played)/Started/Minutes/Points/Assists/Reb
M. Simmons /Tenn/ 21(21) / 20 start/ 25.8 min/ 15.6 pt/ 2.8 asst/2.9 rbs
L. Brown/ USC /18(18)/1 start/13.6 min/3.7 pts/1.0 asst/1.5 rbs
C. Harper /Kansas/ 19(15)/0 starts/13.1 min/3.3 pts/1.6 asst/1.7rbs
J.Kuster/ Rice/ 20(20)/10 starts/27.6 min/12.5 pts/1 asst/10.5 rbs
S. Whittman /K State /18(10)/0 starts/5.4 min/0.9 pts/0.2 asst/0.7 rbs
M. Rodriguez /UTA/ thru 5 games/1 start/10.4 min/1.8 pts/0.6 assst/0.2 rbs
C. Berry /SFA 17(17) /0 starts/ 17.1 min/ 2.8 pts/ 2.1 asst/ 1.8 rbs
C. McLee /J Ville /thru 9 games(5)/0 starts/9.6 min/0.6 pts/0.3 asst/1.2 rbs
O. Patterson /S Illinois /Left Team Personal Reasons
KiKi Ageous/ Arizona/ Left team Personal Reasons
-Jessica Kuster is leading Rice in scoring and rebounds
-Meaghan Simmons is leading Univ Tenn in scoring and asst
- I have NO confirmation other than Internet reports of the above mentioned players leaving for personal reasons. Internet reports showed Olivia Patterson making positive contributions to the team before leaving. KiKi Ageous reportedly left BEFORE the season started. I am sure that these two outstanding young ladies will resurface at the collegiate level soon!
- West Virginia guard Sarah Miles played less than 6 minutes and scored 1.6 points a game as a freshman. She only appeared in 16 games the entire season. The next year, her sophomore season, she started in all of the 33 games the team played while averaging 35 minutes and 12 points per contest, earning Big East Most Improved Player award in the process. Her example is one that illustrates how most freshman players face an uphill battle to earn minutes but hard work and patience will eventually pay off.
Here is an except from Marc Lewis of ESPN HoopGurlz in regards to freshman:
"The statistics for the ESPN HoopGurlz top 40 ranked players of the 2010 class (as of 1/17/11) who are actually playing this season show a tough road even for the most elite players. As a group, in the games they've participated in, they've only started 40 percent of the time. In those same games, combined, they're averaging just 17.6 minutes of playing time. The scoring average at this point in the season for the group as a whole is 6.4 points per game and they're shooting 41 percent from the field. Another telling stat is turnovers. Despite playing less than half of the total minutes in the games, they're averaging 1.52 turnovers."
Friday, January 21, 2011
Ercia Donovan- NC State
Danielle Blagg- Tulane
Alexis Govan- Western Kentucky
Taylor Calvert- Winthrop
Ebony Watkins- UTA
Asha Hampton-Finch-Prarie View A&M
Kiara Taylor- Texas Southern
Known primarily as a defensive stopper in the past, Taylor gained a reputation as a sharp shooter after having multiple games of hitting close to 10 three pointers this past summer for the Lady Rohawks.
The Lady Tigers of Texas Southern are a Division 1 institution and compete in the Southwestern Athletic Conference.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
The match up for supremacy of 27-5A was epic for a number of reasons. John Jay stalwart coach, Mike Floyd(former UTSA asst. coach) and his 600 plus wins vs. the new kid on the block in the energetic and bright Stevens coach, Anissa Hastings(University of Texas star and Sam Houston great). The 6 degrees of separation was in effect.
Annisa Hastings coaches summer ball for TeamXpress. TeamXpress founder/director is University of Texas and San Antonio legend Clarissa Davis-Wrightsil. A young Clarissa Davis once scored 75 points in a high school game for John Jay while playing for a young coach named Mike Floyd. Alexis Govan and Erica Donovan both play for TeamXpress and have been in battle with and against each hundreds of times over the last two years.
Stevens starting point guard is Nicole Salazar. Nicole's dad is the head coach of his own club team, NS Mustangs. The starting power forward for Jay is Vanessa Orr. The assistant coach for the NS Mustangs is the father of Vanessa Orr.
Jay freshman Antania "T" Newton is reportedly the future step sister of Stevens sophomore, Elexus Allen. They both play summer ball for Cavin Leonard's SA Comets.
One of the elite club teams in San Antonio over the last few years has been the "Lady Mustangs" led by Jay star sophomore Destiny Amezquita's father, Danny. One of their main rivals are the previously mentioned "NS Mustangs".
All this familiarity apparently bred contempt. The game was physical and intense. The game was an exhibition in athleticism and execution. Jay's Aleeyah Harris showed why she has the upside to be a great player. Stevens' Alexis Sendejo displayed why she is one of the supreme shooters in the city. Stevens' Elexus Allen and Jay's KiKi Taylor proved that they are two of the best defenders in the city. Jay's Destiny Amezquita showed glimpses of how great she will be when she recovers 100% from her knee injury. Steven's Amber Johnson made all of us learn her name. The game was remarkable, but nothing told the tell of the game like the battle between between the leading candidates for MVP of the city, Erica Donovan and Alexis Govan.
The NC State bound Donovan finished with 41 points. The Western Kentucky bound Govan gave the opposition 38 points. I changed my opinion on city MVP so many times during the game that I felt like a flip flopping politician.
I have admittedly been a little depressed this season. The 2010 class spoiled me. The game was played a certain way and the players treated the game with a certain respect. Olivia Patterson locking up full court making opposing guards panic. Jessica Kuster snatching a defensive board, out letting the ball and sprinting past the defense for an acrobatic lay up. Meighan Simmons scowling at the opposing fans while going for 30 plus. Len'Nique Brown running the offense like a Broadway orchestra leader. CeCe Harper putting her team on her back and shredding the defense with pin point passes and exciting finishes. KiKi Ageous pro-hopping and Jackie Edwards with the lefty jumper. I missed them; until tonight.
Donovan and Govan made me happy. They made 'The Game' happy. To see two players that refused to lose was refreshing. They willed their teams with three point bombs, strong forays to the rack, tough offensive put backs. Everything! They did it all. E.D. won. She led her Jay squad to the victory lap. Govan was special. Donovan was just a little more special. I'm floating. We all should be. The city is in good hands. We are continuing on our rise. Thank you Govan! Thank you Donovan! Great job Stevens. Greater job Jay! Final Score, Jay 78-71 on OT. I only wish that they played again tomorrow. And the next day... And the next day!
Monday, January 17, 2011
Nick is known as Coach Nick to his NS Mustangs basketball team. Coach Nick has guided not only girls, but boys over the years. This past Saturday was no different. Coach Nick led a team full of green fourth and fifth graders at the Eastside Boys and Girls Club. The logical explanation why he would miss his beloved Nicole's high school district game to coach a bunch of 10 year old girls is that he has another young daughter that he is now guiding. It makes sense that he would miss Nicole's high school game to now make sure his younger daughter is playing the sport that his family loves. However, Nick does not have a younger daughter on this team.
When asked why he started over with another young group, he replied that his boys(club players) have younger sisters that needed a team. Coach Nick started a team full of very raw young players made up of kids that are related to the boys that he coaches during the club ball season.
What Coach Nick is doing emphasizes all that is good with club basketball. The costs of running a club team leaves most club organizations in the red and the coaches/directors inevitably coming out of their own pockets to continue helping kids play this wonderful game. None of the kids that he has coached have the physical attributes that would make college coaches drool. He is not doing it for the glory of claiming that he has the #1 player in the country and getting the accolades that goes with it. He is doing it because it needs to be done!
Not only has Coach Nick helped these young kids, he has helped elite high school programs and some of the most successful high school coaches in the city.
Stevens is ranked in the TOP 10 in the city and its point guard is Nicole. John Jay is the #1 team currently in the city and NS Mustang player, Vanessa Orr(her father is also a coach for the NS Mustangs) plays an important role in Jay's success. Madison's Tracy Hastings is one of the most successful coaches in the city in terms of career wins and her starting lineup includes a sophomore guard who averages double digits, NS Mustang Monica Perez. Hasting also has another pretty good young(sophomore) NS Mustang player in "Peechy" Alcibar.
Grassroot coach's like Nick Salazar are why this city continues to grow in terms of gaining ground on basketball national hotbeds. As younger kids are continually exposed to this great game, the city will consistently produce better players. Better players will produce better high school teams. Better high school teams help high school coaches win more games.
Also seen at the East Side Boys and Girls Club cheering for 10 year old girls playing basketball, Stevens coach and former University of Texas standout, Anissa Hastings. Like Nick Salazar, Anissa Hastings gets it!
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
- Length- Roosevelt is extremely long. Most teams break zone defenses via the pass. Most zones are very susceptible to the skip pass but not Roosevelt. It is very difficult to get open against the Roosevelt zone due to the length of its players. The 3-2 zone that they employ pretty much eliminates high post entries. This in turn makes ball reversal slow and non-direct.
The great length also capitalizes on the fact that a great portion of the girls in the city shoot set shots from a low shot pocket. Roosevelt closes out defensively with high active hands which disrupts perimeter shots by good shooters.
-Athleticism- Roosevelt has a team full of track stars. They are fast and most importantly, they are quick. Lateral quickness is a huge skill to have as a player. Roosevelt has a team full of kids that are laterally quick and able to defend dribble penetration.
Strong Rebounding- Markia Thomas and Jasmine Davison are extremely strong post players that are difficult for local kids to box out. Niaga Mitchell-Cole is one of the best rebounding guards in the city at over 8 boards a game and Asha Hampton-Finch is a 6'2 pogo stick.
Collectively, Roosevelt is full of second leapers. The ability to jump a second and third time in traffic allows Roosevelt dominate the boards.
Role Play/Deep- Roosevelt has players that understand their roles. They share the basketball, which can be a detrimental aspect of the game if the players did not have the ability to make good decisions with it as a collective group. Here is a great stat, Roosevelt has 226 assists on 297 made baskets. That kind of unselfish play is tough to defend.
Most teams in the city feature one or two good players. This allows for defensive schemes that double team the good players and make lesser skilled players take shots and make decisions. Inevitably this leads to failure as these lesser skilled players are not equipped to effectively produce. This is not the case with Roosevelt. They are deeper than most teams in the city at the skilled positions. Furthermore, the lesser skilled players have an understanding of their limitations and stay within their capabilities. (side note: The core of Roosevelt contributors play club ball)
Coaching- Admittedly, I have scratched my head trying to understand the Roosevelt style of play in the past. I now see the entire picture. Coach Rob Rheinberger is demanding and instills disciplined tough players.
For instance,last night the Johnson Jags were down by close to thirty points and went on a 8-0 run with 5 minutes to go in the game. Instead of relaxing and allowing slippage in play, Rhienberger exploded from the bench and chewed out his players for missed defensive assignments and turnovers. The lack of defensive execution and ball protection was not acceptable, even when up by more than 20 points.
Rheinberger is also the adept at working the officials. When a Johnson player executed a hesitation move, he yelled " she's carrying the ball " repeatedly. His point guard then would immediately go on the other end and do the same dribble move. He obviously allows and permits his guard to do the same move that he lobbied the referees to call on the opposition. His defense is as aggressive as any in the city, but he politics throughout the game for fouls on the other end. How important is this lobbying of officials? Mitchell-Cole has 120 fouls attempts this season, twice the amount of the next player with the second most attempts in district. The next leading player in free throw attempts in district just so happens to be also a Roosevelt player(Markia Thomas with 64 attempts).
Here are some Rheinberger defensive adjustments:
Versus Johnson, Rheinberger did not pressure Recee' Caldwell full court nor extend aggressively. He contested with defensive stopper, Mitchell-Cole, and shaded a second player in exaggerated help position. This made Caldwell shoot deep shots over the long Mitchell-Cole or pass to open teammates. He then denied her a return pass. When Caldwell starting to penetrate more effectively, he went to an extended 3-2 with length up top. The result, 23 point win.
Versus Reagan, Rheinberger loaded up the paint with a sagging man defense that kept one of the best slashing teams in the city out of the key. Reagan slashers Sabrina Berry, Moriah Mack, and Wendy Knight were turned into jump shooters instead of being allowed to do what they do best.The result, a 14 point win while holding Reagan to 35 points, 15 points under season average.
Versus Jay, they made one of the best facilitators in the city, Erica Donovan(5th in city in assists) be just a scorer and shut down her teammates. Result, an 8 point win and held Jay to 20 points under team scoring average.
Two D1 Players/4 College Players- Roosevelt has 10 seniors on the squad and this can only help come playoffs. However, if the Rough Riders are going to dethrone John Jay and keep Wagner from reasserting themselves as the team to beat, Niaga Mitchell-Cole and Asha Hampton-Finch are going to have to lead them to the promise land. Mitchell-Cole and Hampton-Finch will undoubtedly be be joined in the college ranks by Thomas and Davison, although most likely not at the D1 level.
Lat season, John Jay's Erica Donovan refused to lose to regional final. Len'Nique Brown put on a show in her last high school game but Erica Donovan stole the crown. Brown did everything in her power to lead Wagner past John Jay but Donovan would not have it. She bullied her way to Austin and refused to take no for an answer. Destiny Amezquita provided the help that Donovan needed to get over the hump.
For Roosevelt to do what Jay did last season, Mitchell-Cole is going to have to go through Donovan's Jay team or Arielle Roberson's Wagner squad. The game will always comes down to the players. Hampton-Finch must produce like Amezquita did last March. She seems to be hitting her stride as a player and just at the right time.
All of these above factors will make Roosevelt a tough out come February. If they continue to shoot the 3 ball like they did last night, they are unbeatable citywide.
Friday, January 7, 2011
Len'Nique Brown Team (Undersized but Mighty!)
pg- Brooke Allemand(Champion/ 15.1 ppg)
g-Elena Gumbs(Steele/ 11.9 ppg)
g- Shana Holmes(Southwest/ 19.3 ppg)
f-Markia Thomas(Roosevelt/11 ppg 6 rbs)
f-Ebony Easter( O'Conner /15.8 ppg 10.7 rbs)
Get Big Team!
pg- Ebony Watkins (Wagner/ 13.2 ppg)
g-Erica Donovan (Jay/ 20 ppg 14.6 rbs 4.4 assts)
g-Niaga Mitchell-Cole(Roosevelt/11 ppg 8.5 rbs 4.2 assts)
f- Arielle Roberson (Wagner/19 ppg)
c- Sune Agbuke
Pretty Puppies Team!(Fabulous Freshman):
pg- Recee' Caldwell(Johnson/20.7 ppg)
g- McKenzie Calvert(Steele/15.4 ppg)
g- Wendy Knight(Reagan/10.2 ppg)
g- Carlie Heineman(Marshall/11.3 ppg)
f- Tay Boclair(Brenan/12.7 ppg)
Jessica Kuster Team (Freakish Athleticism):
g-Moriah Mack(Reagan /10 ppg)
g- Danielle Blagg(Smithson Valley/14.7 ppg)
f- Sabrina Berry(Reagan/12.1 ppg)
f- Dio Warr(East Central/10.7 ppg)
f- Monet O'Neil(Taft 9.2 ppg)
Thursday, January 6, 2011
- The University of Texas, currently ranked #22 in country, was spotted in the house last night at the Littleton gym watching Johnson freshman Recee' Caldwell help lead her Jags team to a blowout win over the Madison Mavericks. Caldwell didn't disappoint with 23 points and 4 dimes while sitting out most of the 4th quarter. Madison sophomore, Brianna Jones had 17 points and 12 boards in a spirited effort versus the Jags.
With the Big 12 season getting under way next week, two of the best teams in the country spending time in San Antonio highlights the new status of this city in terms of elite prospects.