Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Roosevelt is the Best???

Roosevelt is the best team in the city at this point in the season. After watching the Rough Riders destroy Johnson last night, it became apparent that this may be their year to represent the region in Austin. Here is why:

- 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.