Tuesday, September 25, 2012

San Antonio: Mid-Major City Part 2

To conclude a blog started some time ago, I will discuss a couple more reasons why San Antonio is predominantly a city full of mid-major talent. Last week, in a conversation with a director of one of the most powerful(talent heavy) clubs in the country, the director stated that San Antonio is an untapped D2 hotbed. This director's club routinely sends 20 plus kids to the D1 ranks a year. Some of the reasons that he is right, that we have more D2 kids than D1 players, are the same reasons that we tend to produce more low to mid-major kids than BCS players.

Let me clarify, I am not saying bigger is better. Players like Elena Delle Donne, Becky Hammon and Courtney Vandersloot are on my mind frequently. These women attended mid-major programs and made history. Delle Donne has left Uconn without playing a game her freshman year and transferred to the University of Delaware. Delaware is ranked in the Top 10 in the country this preseason on the strength of Delle Donne's 28 point a game last year. What I am saying is that producing players that have the option to attend BCS schools is something we can do better. Here are some of our challenges:

Referees- In a recent tournament, I watched from the stands as one of the brightest players our city has to offer was full blown tackled at half court. The opposing player was going for a loose ball and since she is not a basketball player, she failed to take into account that she needed to "break down" and play under control. Breaking down is a simple act that is honed on thousands of play grounds and gym across the country. "Breaking down" or decelerating by shortening your steps(chopping) is essential to being a player and playing under control. Readers across the country are upset that they just read a few sentences detailing such a remedial concept. Yet, the lack of a solid break down allowed a really good 2014 to get decleated, on the basketball court. Now, here is where the city is hindered.

The ref called a foul. He thinks he did his job. This out of control player came close to fouling out after making a couple more football like fouls, not out of malice, but out of not being properly taught and consequently, not being a basketball player. However, the ref DID foul out a very promising guard whom picked up 3 fouls for hand checking, 60 feet away form the basket! That in a nutshell is what is wrong with the city!

Since most of the local refs have never played basketball in an organized setting, they fail to KNOW basketball plays. A hand check infraction is a misdemeanor compared to a decapitation at half court and yet many local refs treat them the same. Instead of targeting and calling flagrant fouls on the players that jeopardize the safety of others, they concentrate on hand checks! This is not a singular instance, this is the norm it seems. Furthermore, when you question a lot of local refs about their reasoning, they take offense. Napoleon complex kicks in a they must show that they are boss. Contrast that to officials in other areas. They tend to be willing and able to explain their calls, not taking it as a personal assault on their character. A lot of them understand that referring is not just about black and white calls but game management.

One of the biggest things that I witnessed when moving here was the lack of emphasis on protecting the shooter. I cautioned kids I coached to become a land dweller, not to "touch the back board" on break away lays ups. By teaching my players to not "expose" themselves to dirty fouls, I could not do my job effectively in encouraging athleticism and creativity. Too many times, out of control players would not "run by" to safely contest lay ups. Since they could not challenge shots near the rim, they would run into exposed kids while they were in the air. Again, these type of fouls by uncoordinated kids were treated like a palming violation.

I have documented often how our kids are not allowed to do advanced moves like pro hops, rocker steps, hesitation dribbles, etc. I repeat the admonition of a local ref who tells kids, "I'm calling a Euro Step a travel because this ain't Europe". This ref and his tribe should realize that we do not play basketball with a peach basket anymore.

The game of basketball is an interpretation game. A good majority of the rules are subject to interpretation. If I can not speak Spanish, how can I interpret it. If I can not do an In & Out Dribble or a Hesitation Move, and realize that I can complete both WITHOUT palming the basketball by discontinuing my dribble or having my palm face the sky, how can I effectively make a good judgement call?

An outside event operator has hired his third referring staff since May! He runs some of the best events in Texas and has not found the officiating that he is expects. Throwing events in the Dallas and the Houston areas, he is disappointed at the quality of local refs and is having trouble getting out of town teams to frequent his San Antonio events. The primary reason, horrible refs. The manager for this event operator discussed the only way to eliminate the horrible refs is by educating them. She went on to state that in the Dallas area, most big tournament providers will not use refs that do not take continuing education classes every year. Imagine that, mandating that the people who basically have the safety and partial development of our youth in their hands, get better!

High School Hobbyists/Politics- The times have changed where uninspired coaches go unnoticed in San Antonio. Too many kids are getting recruited on a national level for small town ineptitude and cronyism to thrive. The practice of getting coaching jobs because the AD/football coach likes a particular person is preventing our kids from effectively competing against kids in other areas of the state.

Imagine if Steele High School football coach Mike Jinks treated his job like a hobby. What would happen if Devine's Chad Quisenberry rarely scouted an opponent or never stayed late while his kids worked out? Or crazier still, what would happen if Malcolm Brown did not make All-District while at Steele? That's the type of nonsense that goes on in girls high school basketball. A kid that made our country's USA team made 2nd team all-district because of politics. One of the best and most recruited players in the city last season was not named to an all-district team after she put up monster numbers. Millionaire college coaches badly want some local kids but they can't make all-district teams? That's almost vile!

The politics and hobbyists coach hurts the city. How can college coaches take the area serious when our best players are ostracized for being good by opposing jealous high school coaches? Is it any wonder why San Antonio teams go to State and get beat by double digits every time? Reagan was our best last season and got throttled by Dekaney by 30 plus. Dekaney, in turn, got thumped by Duncanville by 30 plus. Theoretically, Reagan would lose to  Duncaville by 60 last season. It is not surprise that when contrasting SOME of our local coaches, college coaches often bring up both, Dekaney and Duncanville's as examples of coaches that do it the right way. Georgetown's Rhonda Forney is often mentioned with reverence as well and Georgetown is smaller that San Antonio. The size of the city in comparison to Dallas and Houston is no excuse for not excelling.