Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Be Realistic!

Here is a memo to all the dads and club coaches that use the word "Best" too loosely; Get Real(istic)!

Every so called elite prospect in this city has played in front of college coaches on numerous occasions.

College coaches make six figure salaries, some make millions. They cannot make decisions based on clever marketing of players and keep their job! They know that players ultimately determine wins.

For instance, Coach G at Texas has not won at a high rate in comparison to her Duke years. Why? She has yet to land the Lyndsey Hardings at Texas. Did she become a bad coach all of a sudden? No! She has less talent to work with. Gary Blair won a championship last season. He graduated two pros and his current record illustrates their impact to the current team.

My point is that the Internet has allowed anyone with a keyboard to tout "can't miss kids". How do you know that a kid is really good, in most cases, check their college offers! A few kids like Baylor great Sophia Young, who did not play club ball, go under the radar. Those examples are few and far between.

College coaches see things from a different point of view. Just because a kid averages 20 points a game in high school does not mean that those skills translate to college. Look at Bo Kimble of LMU fame. Or Harold Miner of USC glory. I can use plenty of girls' high school examples but do not want to seem to bash a kid to make a point. However, the stats are available on My San Antonio site. Go back a few years and see how many local kids averaged a lot of points in HS but did not earn scholarships. Most of these kids played club ball and played in front of the people who get paid to know talent on many occasions.

With the growth of San Antonio girls' basketball, we should all make sure to be realistic and truthful with our kids without discouraging them. There SHOULD be a place for every dedicated and skilled basketball player in the city. However, parents should not sell nor accept wolf cookies about their children, they can be very expensive in the long run!

MVP Votes!

These players have to be considered for MVP honors. To make their case and not make a case as to why I did not choose them may lean toward bashing. With that in mind, these players had great years:

Tanaeya Boclair- Sophomore Big has lead her squad to an undefeated record. She is a huge fcator in Brennan's success.

Ebony Easter- The senior forward had a terrific year and led an O'Connor team with her good play and great leadership.

Chamaya Turner-2011 female athlete of the year had Canyon rolling the the playoffs. Very good numbers.

Erica Hernandez- Sharp shooter for Floresville had a great year. Fuels a system that feeds off of her geting buckets.

Tesha Smith- Breakout year from the junior post player. From JV to MVP canidate one year for Wagner!

City MVP!!

As the playoffs heat up, it is time to address the Most Valuable Player in the city. Of course this is a great debate for many reasons, but here is my take. I will make an argument for each player and a reason that they MAY not be the MVP. Providing reason(s) why a player MAY not be city MVP is tough. This blog has NEVER bashed kids. In fact, all of these kids were introduced to the Internet audience through ShesBallin. Here are the Top 3 candidates:

Recee' Caldwell-

Why She Is-  Caldwell finished the season averaging 17.3 points and 5.8 assists 4 boards. Johnson had a 15-45 record in the two initial years before Caldwell stepped on campus. She led Johnson to 20 wins last season and 27 wins this season. From 15-45 record to 46-21 over the last two years, she has led Johnson to a 31 game improvement in two years. She led Johnson to its first playoff birth and a season long Top 10 city ranking, while competing in the toughest district in the city(3 out of 8 top teams in city). Caldwell did this while facing the best defender and junk defenses from every team this season. She rarely got an easy shot. Again, less than a dozen high ball screens were set for her the entire season. Her offensive system did not get her easy return shots off of things like reversals, leak outs, pin down screens or set plays. She created 90% of her own scores, all while being second in the city in assists. At some point, she guarded the best player on every team she played this season, averaging 2.4 steals. Caldwell is young, as are most of her teammates and head coach. She makes her teammates better. With Caldwell handling the ball handling duties, she created opportunities for her shooters to just catch and shoot. Her slashers were rewarded with full court dimes for easy lay ups. To beat Johnson, teams learned to cut Caldwell off. Stevens, Reagan, and Churchill all blew Johnson out by limiting Caldwell's opportunities to create for herself and others.

Why She Is Not: Caldwell had help with talented teammates. She plays with two division one bound teammates, Gabbie Bowie and Erica Sanders.Johnson was 2-2 in her absence this season. They most likely would have contended with Roosevelt or Madison for fourth place in district without her, possibly making the playoffs. She turned it up late in the season but allowed herself to be taken out of some games by junk defenses.

McKenzie Calvert

Why She Is: Calvert has had an incredible year as the leading scorer in the city on the hottest team. She is one of the few kids that can stay focused enough to pummel weak competition. Usually a Rottweiler does not bother to get riled up for a barking chihuahua. A lot of girls play down to competition but not Calvert. She never lets her guard down and feasts on players that do not belong on the court with her. She increased her scoring lead over the city by almost outscoring entire teams in some cases. The weaker teams in her district and in the city were her playground as she tallied 30 plus against them on every possible turn. She is the best transition scorer in the city. Her confidence is what the Steele reflects. Her swag is worth a few points a game alone. It is amusing to see opposing guards intimidated by the task of playing against her. One of the best on-ball defenders in the city, she creates easy baskets for herself by ripping opposing guards. She has the thick skin of a volume shooter that never remembers a missed shot, another great attribute from top scorers. On a team with talent, she is a strong enough personality to command respect and win over a tough coach.  She averaged 22 points 5 rebounds and 2.5 assists. Her defensive prowess led her to earn 3.4 steals a game.

Why She Is Not: Calvert too plays with talent. Elena Gumbs, Rice commit, is a heady guard that has a major impact on Steele's success. Kyra Lambert is a potential All-American if she continues to improve and handles a good portion of ball handling duties. Calvert is the beneficiary of a lot of breakaways lay ups in transition assisted by Gumbs and Lambert. The Steele team would make the playoffs without her. She does not run the team and only has to focus on scoring.

Leslie Vorpahl

Why She Is: Vorpahl has the ball in her hands 90% of the time for the #1 team in the city. Many parents claim that their kids would do more with the ball constantly in their hands. While many players could produce more good with constant touches, however the BAD would be multiplied exponentially. Making the bulk of the decisions and making the right ones are extremely hard for a high school player. Vorpahl did an outstanding job with running a team and leading them to wins.Teenagers can be extremely difficult to lead in terms of jealousy and petty squabbles. Vorpahl leadership kept the Chargers playing as a cohesive unit and they seem to enjoy her. Some kids are despised by their teammates and she is not one of those type of kids. She averaged 15 points, 6.8 assists,3.4 rebounds and 2 steals a game.

Why She Is Not: Vorpahl had much more help in terms of system. I watched her get 8 on-ball screens in one play vs Reagan. A kid like Caldwell received 8 on-ball screens ALL YEAR.  She also had some help with college players Dani Espinoza and Jordan Holub. Her coach is arguably the best in the city and made his team understand pecking order.

The Most Valuable Playerin the city is: Leslie Vorpahl

Simply put, Churchill is not a Top 10 team in the city without Vorpahl. While Vorpahl is not the BEST player in the city, she is the Most Valuable. Her basketball IQ is exceptional. She torched Steele for 30 and gave Reagan close to 20 in one quarter. She did not pad her stats by scoring against weaker competition, she sat during most blowouts. To not realize how important she was to Churchill's success would be comical.

In a convo with a club coach after Churchill's defeat to Wagner, the coach spoke of Vorpahl not playing up to par. That is almost as comical. Her brilliant performances have spoiled us. We have seen her make improbable shot after shot and will her team to victory so many times this season, we forget she is a teenage girl. I questioned on this blog whether Vorpahl was going to break down physically from all of the demand on her this season. She did not. In a great testament to her great season, she made it happen in the biggest games. Her coach surely deserves some credit for entrusting her with the ball and making it easier for her to do her job but very few kids in the city could actually do her job. Caldwell would have Churchill in Top 5. Calvert would have Churchill in Top 10. Vorpahl had Churchill #1. Steele and Johnson do not skip a beat with Vorpahl this season. Johnson's Gabbie Bowie and Erica Sanders still benefit from good guard play with Vorpahl. Steele's Elena Gumbs and Kyra Lambert both average close to 20 points with Vorpahl.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Wagner vs Johnson Game Notes!

In easily one of the best games in recent local history, Wagner trumped Johnson in Double OT. Here are some game notes:

Elite Play(ers):

Tesha Smith was a Boss! Smith established herself early and often for the T-birds. Johnson refused to front Smith in the post and allowed her to give Wagner a double digit lead early in the first quarter. Smith was a constant all night, finishing with 19 points and 25 rebounds! Johnson's Bailey Ulrich did a good job in the second half of making it difficult for Smith. Without her efforts, Smith was on pace for a 30-30 game. Smith is easily the most improved player in the city. From JV player last season to a STAR this season.

How is this for a stat line: 20 points, 8 assists, 7 rebounds, 4 steals and 2 blocks. That is what Recee' Caldwell did for Johnson, all while playing 39 consecutive  minutes before fouling out of double overtime. Caldwell was defended by three separate defenders, Adriane and Aundrea Davis and Corinna Moncada. When she passed in the open court, Wagner went to a denial in an attempt to denial and made her work to get it back. She controlled the tempo and touched paint at will. Pretty impressive physical effort and performance on that stage for a kid that should be in the 9th grade.

Gabbie Bowie was very impressive! The sophomore for Johnson has shown glimpses of brilliance all season but last night was her coming out party. Bowie used her deft pull up jumper to score 17 points and snatched 10 boards. The way she exploded off of the floor to grab rebounds in traffic left an impression on many. She displayed her improved handle to set up her scoring opportunities. The former post player from El Paso is now a legit perimeter threat and last night was the opportune time to exhibit her hard work. Watch Out!

Corrina Moncada was clutch. I have been watching her since she was a tiny 11 year old fire plug and her tenacity has always been evident. Moncada hit 3 huge free throws with her team down 3, to send the game into double overtime. Moncada did a very good job running the team in the absence of the Twins, who fouled out late in the game. Anyone who knows Moncada's game, had very little doubt that she would nail the free throws. She is wired to compete.

Tina Camacho- The Wagner coach was at her best. I doubt she ever has had a better win in her long and distinguished career. Yes, she has had BIGGER wins, but better, probably not. The adjustments she made after losing her veteran back court to fouls were noteworthy.

Defensively, she abandoned the Man Defense and went back to a compacted 1-2-2 zone in the clutch. Johnson had trouble solving the zone earlier in the game. Camacho went to it to get key stops late. She rotated three defenders at Caldwell and shadowed her with Smith when she beat her on ball pressure. She mixed in the 3/4 court press to keep Johnson off balance.

Offensively, she was even more brilliant. She pounded the ball into Smith, who was being guarded by a defender giving up 6 inches. Johnson refused to front Smith so Camacho kept pounding the ball inside. When Johnson doubled down on Smith, Camacho had Ashely Ross dive to the basket for a crucial score in the second OT. She ran multiple out of bound sets for scores. She utilized her timeouts to giver her thin bench rest and needed instruction.

Her biggest contributions were referee management and leadership. She repeatedly held her kids in timeouts beyond the whistle. This left Johnson's players standing on the court, waiting extended periods of time while they observed her in deep instruction with her team. During a foul call that resulted in the disqualification of her veteran guard, she protested for numerous MINUTES. She questioned the official book and made her case for MINUTES. All the while, Johnson had a freshman  set to shoot foul shots to win the biggest game of her life. This icing of the shooter without calling a timeout was brilliant. The Johnson freshman sat at the free throw line for MINUTES, contemplating the magnitude of her fouls shots.

Her leadership led Wagner to victory. Before she inserted a freshman(Kiana Clark) that would go on to hit the game winning shot, she held her two hands in hers and spoke directly into her eyes. Her speech was methodical and clear. What she told this kid, I do not know. Whatever it was, it worked. This kid performed above any ones expectations and her coach made sure to walk her through these clutch moments. I sat and watched a different coach spend half of a timeout trying to find her clip board in a recent game. Camacho could have written a novel with how many times and the length of time that she spent diagramming CLEAR instructions to her team. This competence instilled a belief in her kids that allowed them to win.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Another Super Soph hits 1000!

In a year that has seen two heralded sophomores tally 1000 career points, another gifted scorer makes her mark. Southwest's Tiffany Rodriguez has surpassed 1000 career points. The slashing guard is one of the better open court scorers in the city and has 1061 points to be exact. She has played in 61 career games and has a career average of 17.4 ppg.

A shout must go out to her coach, Bill Avey. Avey is the Mike D'Antoni of the city. Avey's system enabled Shana Holmes(2011) to score a ton of points. It is no coincidence that Rodriguez is among the top 5 scorers in the city. Avey's green light philosophy and pecking order system makes him a scoring guards dream.

Congrats Tiffany!

Friday, February 3, 2012

February Tidbits!

  • Realignment is here and Brennan is the biggest loser. Brennan returns all starters back next season on a team currently undefeated. The reward is to play in a district that will not test them at all. It is tough to prepare for a state run without getting challenged. Coach Randy Evans is going to have to schedule extremely tough in the preseason to overcome the new district shortcomings.

  • New 1000 point club members: McKenzie Calvert 2014(1132), Niaga Mitchell-Cole 2012(1109), Brooke Allemand 2013(1224). Southwest's Tiffany Rodriguez is 3 points shy of 1000.

  • Speaking of 1000 point club, Erica "Goose" Hernandez has some pretty impressive numbers. She has 1321 points in the last two years! She is approaching 2500 career points. She leads the city with 81 three point makes this season. She is shooting 81% from FT. The scoring total would place her in the Top 50 scores in Texas history!!

  • Madison's Briana Jones is averaging 20 points a game in the last 3 games. She is doing this in  the best district in the city. 26-5A is the toughest district in the city with 3 out of the top 8 teams in the SA Express-News Top 10.

  • Wagner vs Judson- Was one of the best coached games in a while. Multiple defensive changes, various offensive looks and constant lead changes made for a great game. Judson's LB Brown controlled the action early but Tesha Smith brought the victory home for Wagner.

  • Churchill and Reagan will most likely face off for the forth time for playoff seeding. The top two teams in the city are fighting for a chance to play New Braunfels and not Judson in the first round. Judson is talented enough to beat any team in the city on the right night.