This weekend my AAU team played in the Battle of the Borders tournament held at the Indy Southside Sports Academy. It was a very good tournament with a ton of talented teams. It was similar to the AAU teams you see at the big 17& under tournaments. There were teams from Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Texas, Georgia, and Missouri. There were multiple dunks in every game I watched this weekend. These are 13 and 14 year olds. It is pretty amazing to see the level of athleticism that these young kids play.
Our first game of pool play, we played a very weak team from Lawrence. I was proud of the way we played though. I was pleased not only because we won by 40 points, but for the way we didn’t get sloppy. We weren’t gambling on defense like you will see a lot of times in a blow out. We played a solid game and took care of a team that we should beat. Beating a team that you should beat isn’t as easy as it seems. Many teams will play down to the level of their opponent which is a bad habit usually because they take the team for granted and don’t stick to their fundamentals.
In the second game of pool play, we played a super athletic team from Chicago. It was a complete 180 from our first game. The opponent was long, quick, aggressive, and great leapers. We committed a lot of early turnovers. It was mostly because we were forcing long passes that won’t work against quick teams. We regained our composure and fought back from our early deficit. We ended up losing the game for a variety of reasons. The main thing was our lack of blocking out. They attack the offensive glass and got way too many second chance points. Another reason was that our help defense was content to reach instead of stepping over and stopping penetration. Basketball is a very simple game. If you do the fundamentals of the game, you will have a great chance to win the game no matter if the opponent has more talent than you.
The third game was a very awkward and interesting game. At first, we thought the other team might be forfeiting because at game time they were not at the court. Finally, they were located and were ready to play. We played a very sloppy and inpatient game on both ends of the court. We were fortunate enough to escape with an overtime victory. There isn’t much to say about this game. I can only believe that we were mentally fatigued and that is why we played so poorly.
We ended up going 2-1 in our pool play and getting a three seed for the actual tournament. It is very rare to have a winning record in pool play and get such a bad seed. We were then forced to play a pool winner in the first round of the tournament, Indiana Elite. They are a very solid, good team. They all can shoot very well and don’t make many mistakes. Their best player will be playing at Bloomington South next year and they expect him to see a lot of varsity minutes as a freshman. We played them tough. I thought our defense was the best we had ever played. They just hit tough, contested shots. Sometimes they just hit shots and there is nothing you can do about it. We have a tendency to be stagnant on offense and going one on one too much, but after telling them not to ball screen in the second half we moved the ball a lot better. The offense actually looked good for once.
I came away from the tournament with many positives. We have things we can build off of. Hopefully, they see the success we had when they did the things I have been asking them to do. It seemed like they were trying to do what I asked, but they just have bad habits or lack of good habits. My job as a coach is to break bad habits and create good, fundamental habits. We will see how well I can do this for the rest of summer.