Tuesday, January 15, 2013

"Winning Ugly, Stunted Growth"

Clay Callum of Full Court Press wrote a thought provoking article on "winning ugly". The article speaks to the way college programs often recruit unskilled elite athletes to negate skilled players and win games that are a nightmare to watch. This article touches on some things that surely effect the development of young players.

"I do not care if the score is 2-0, as long as we win" is a common saying of a "successful" local high school coach. Consequently, his/her team wins, yet his/her players do not get better in the process. This is great example of a one sided relationship. The coach calculates his/her wins and winning percentage in hopes of gaining recognition and eventually a better job, but his/her players, that jeopardize their health and formative developmental years for him/her, get little in return.

Judson High School coach Triva Corrales has been praised on this site on more than a few occasions. She is blessed to inherit a lot of athletes that MUST attend her school. Many coaches would utilize these athletes in a way described in the Callum article, as glorified defenders and servants for the all mighty win column. Corrales is thankfully not a member of the tribe that takes and takes but rarely gives to her athletes. Judson has upset Top 3 schools Steele and Wagner this season and the primary reason why, her kids have grown from just athletes to skilled decision makers.

Steele and Wagner high school overwhelm teams with a daunting full court press. Both schools are also stacked with talented kids that will play at a very high level in college. In the past, Judson had one primary ball handler and decision maker, Samantha Allen'14. Allen is one of the top point guards in the city. Teams like Steele and Wagner would chase and trap Allen all over the court. Her teammates were as athletic as opposing teams but not fully capable of making sound decisions with the ball in the past. Now they are. Ball reversals to Allens' teammates result in transition opportunities, smart decisions and sound basketball plays. The development that Corrales has fostered in her program* is paying off and flies in the face of the practices that are being applauded as successful at some schools in the city.

(*Corrales has a program, not a team! She has a former varsity head coach as her jv/frosh coach! Think about that for a second. A capable former varsity coach and former local high school star resigned from her position to assist Corrales. Corrales previously coached at the varsity level and gave up that position to become an assistant with her former coach Tina Camacho at Wagner before landing the Judson job. Corrales is very involved with her middle school programs and encourages her kids to play for the right club programs.)

Callums article is addressing the negative impact that the unskilled labor force has on college basketball and illustrates one of the reasons why womens' basketball may never be a truly revenue producing sport for more than a few schools. However, the problem starts in youth basketball, with clubs and high schools that emphasize winning over development. Sadly, in most industries, winning or success is a byproduct of proper development. Hopefully girls and women's basketball will soon get the notice.