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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Coaching Changes

April means two things in college basketball. One is the Final Four and the other is coaching changes. Some get fired and others look for better opportunities in the coaching business. This spring is no different. John Calipari is heading to Kentucky which will start a domino effect in the business. Memphis now needs a coach which will probably be a coach from another school and the trend continues down the line.

VCU's Head Coach Anthony Grant took the Alabama job. VCU hired a Florida assistant as they had done when they hired Grant. Billy Donovan has a good coaching tree and VCU has made some great hires recently with Grant and Jeff Capel, who left for Oklahoma.

I'm hoping all the changes trickle down to the JuCo level. Maybe one of the new head coaches will take a JuCo coach with him. There is always hope! :)

Monday, March 30, 2009

Spiece Select 2011 Preview

Here is a little bit of a roster break down for Spiece Select 2011 (16&U). I haven't seen a few of the players play too much yet, but I have a general idea for them.

Zac VanDeWater-6'5 SG who can guard three positions. Great shooter and very good quick for his size. High majors have been watching him.

Tony Springmann-6'8 PF when you think Springmann think Luke Harangody. I believe Springmann is a better mid-range shooter at this point in their development. His best quality might be his motor as he rarely gets out worked on the floor.

Kendall Griffin-6'5 SG Strong shooting guard who shoots the ball very well. Good defender and took his game to the next level when he started rebounding hard. High majors are on Griffin's trail.

Torrey Nibbs-6'1 PG Great athlete that is still developing into a true PG. He is quick and strong which have attracted all the college coaches.

Eric Harris-6'2 PG Long, athletic point guard that plays at the powerhouse Lawrence North. He is very good off the dribble.

Dwight Cliff-6'5 SF Powerful wing who can shoot the outside shot. Still developing into a true perimeter player vs. the good players. Lots of potential.

Jordan Hahn-5'10 PG A smart point guard from New Castle...what a surprise. He is a true point guard that always wants to do what is best for the team. Sometimes he needs to look to shoot more.

Tyler Greathouse-6'8 PF Tyler will develop into a 3 on the next level. He can shoot the ball like a guard. Huge potential.

Colin Bowles-6'7 SF Developing into a big time player. Still very raw but plays under a great coach at Franklin Central so my money would be on the high major side.

Robbie Dickinson-6'3 PF Great kid who is also a football player. Developing outside shot so he can play on the perimeter more.

Matt Howard-6'5 PF Somehow didn't play much for his high school team. He has a good and still developing outside shot basically automatic from the mid-range. Should be a college player just a matter of what level right now.

Solid team. I will have lots of updates from tournaments this year with some break downs of other teams.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Final Four

The Final Four is set. UCONN, UNC, Michigan State, and Villanova. A pretty unlikely foursome. Most probably had UCONN and UNC as they have been at the top of the rankings all year, but Nova and MSU really sneaked up on me. I really did not watch Nova much this year for some reason. I believe they were on tv a decent amount since ESPN covers The Big East like no other. Michigan State has been improving every game basically since the start of the year due to youth but most injuries. Tom Izzo is a great coach and I really hope he doesn't make the move to Kentucky.

I did not get to watch the Sunday games because we had aau practice. We had a double session since some people have a far ride. It would be pointless to drive down for a 2 hour practice and drive for 5 hours. We are ranked 8th in the nation by some website. Obviously that has about zero credibility. I would say we could be in the conversation for the top 25 though. Looks like they just took the end of the year rankings last year and put them up for this year.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Past Predictions

Everyone makes predictions on television but they are rarely held accountable for their predictions. People forget that so and so picked Georgetown to win the national title this year. They forget so and so said Notre Dame will make the final four. So, I decided to look back on some of my predictions I made in November.

Michigan State..."Michigan State will win the Big Ten Conference regular season..."

It looks like I nailed this one. Here is another thing I said about MSU..."I expect Michigan State to be in the top 10 range nationally all year. They might not be a top 5 team, but somewhere right outside of that."

Their #2 seed would put them just outside of the top 5. Looks like I got that one.

Wisconsin

"Wisconsin will be solid this year of course. I would predict they will be in the 15-20 range in the national polls all year."

Here I was a little bit off as they were basically just outside of the top 25 most of the year after they went on a 4 game losing streak. But I was pretty close.

Those are a just a couple. I didn't do a full breakdown of all the Big Ten teams. I said Michigan would get some wins that they weren't expected to get due to their 1-3-1...you can ask Duke and UCLA about that. I picked Manny Harris for my Big Ten player of the year. I still think he is the best player in the league.

Feel free to look through and see if you can find any predictions I was way off on...good luck haha

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Cutting

Cutting to get open against tough defense is a fundamental of offense. Every player must be able to get open by himself. Some of the keys to getting open to receive the ball one on one are changing your pace. That means you burst or explode into your cut. A second key is change of direction. Most players will try to change direction as their only option and they will start "dancing" to get open which leads to nothing or worse a turnover. To change direction correctly you must make full cuts to the basket. Yet another option is to use angles and your body in a way that is similar to posting up but then releasing to the perimeter to catch the basketball.

To get open using a screen it takes basically the same concepts. Jodie Meeks is the best in college basketball away from the ball. He sets up his cuts while changing his pace and really exploding off the screen. Players like Reggie Miller and Richard Hamilton in the NBA have made livings off being the best at using screens. You do not need to be a great athlete to get open against a great defender. It is about being smart, reading the defender, and using all your weapons to get open.

Tourney Time


The brackets are out as everyone knows which starts the debate on who should have been included and who should have been excluded. I think there are a few better options for the tournament than the current system.

One option is to get rid of all the automatic bids. That includes regular season conference winners and tournament winners. That would let the committee pick the true 64 best teams. This would not necessarily hurt the small conference teams especially for the mid-major and smaller teams that lose in their conference tournament. Conference tournaments do not prove who the best team in the conference is. If the committee can pick the 34 best at-large selections then they should be able to pick the best 64 teams in the country. This is the argument Jay Bilas (pictured)makes for the tournament.

A second option is Bob Knight's argument. He wants to double the size of the field to 128. It is 1 extra game to win the tournament and anyone who has the smallest chance of winning the tournament is included. 128 seems a little too many to me although it does just add one game. If the 129th team is complaining then they are just being ridiculous.

I like Jay Bilas' suggestion a little bit better than Bob Knight's although I would take either over the current system. Creighton and San Diego State both need to be in this tournament. All the 16 seeds do not need to be playing in a tournament for the national championship. This tournament is to decide the national title. It is like including a D-2 team in the BCS system for football. They do not belong...period.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Progress Report

I believe it is about time to give a little update on my coaching journey since that is the name of the blog. I haven't talked about my coaching situation in awhile so I probably should address it.

Right now, I'm not actively doing any coaching. I have been going to high school games especially sectional games. I try to analyze the players I see like a college coach would. What I like about a player and what I dislike...how much potential he has for the next level and if his game could translate to the college game. Obviously, it is hard since I'm not looking for a certain type of player like a college would be i.e. they need a small forward or a big man or a shooter. So, I might say yes that player could play D-1 in the right spot...finding that spot is the key though because I think a lot of Indiana players could play D-1 in the smaller conferences but a lot of the time those conferences aren't coming to Indiana to recruit due to budget problems and what not. That player might end up being a D-2 player in reality.

I've been trying to keep up with my contacts I have met through camps and other venues. I try to help them out with players if possible but usually they are on top of things and have already made a judgment about the player. I'm not doing it to "suck up" or try to prove I know what I'm talking about although those could be pluses in the long run. I do it just to be nice because coaching is a rough business sometimes.

I'm starting to try to plan out my camp schedule. It is basically just for June for me since I have AAU tournaments in July. I believe that rules out working Five-Star Basketball camp in Pittsburgh. I really want to work that camp since I went there as a player and the coaches that have worked that camp are legendary. I tentatively plan on working Brad Stevens' camp for the third year and the Xavier camp for the first time. I'll try to work Purdue and Indiana University camps also but those are always tough since a lot of people want to and I don't have any really strong tie to either program. I was supposed to work Purdue's camp one week last year, but I had already committed to working another camp.

AAU is starting up. Parents meeting Sunday. I am planning on being an assistant for the Spiece Select 2011 team. I haven't been a true assistant in like 4 years and that was only part-time assistant and part-time head coach of the 2nd team. I'm applying for assistant jobs so I figure I should have some solid assistant experience if I expect to get an assistant job. I might help out a different team because they had a head coach have to back out of the position at the last second. I would rather be an assistant this summer but I will help a brotha out if he needs me to.

I emailed about 200 junior colleges last spring about potential openings they might have. I heard back from approximately half of them and had correspondence with about 15 I would say. I was a finalist for an assistant spot with Coffeyville CC in Kansas. I was on a short list for about 3 or 4 others. I will admit that my resume wasn't put together very well last year. I definitely have improved the aesthetics of it while also adding some experience. Hopefully that will lead to more opportunities this year. We will see.

I think that is it for now. Probably will be hitting up the Big Ten Tournament tomorrow since it is just down the street. Prices seem ridiculous especially since I always remember it being half full. I guess there must be some demand if they think they are going to get takers for those prices. I will probably just try to scalp some cheap seats. Scalping is legal in Indiana although I think legally the sellers can't ask for more than the face value but I'm not sure about that. I might have made that up in my head.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

They Never Pass

The old playground calling cry "they never pass me the ball." You hear it on every level. Someone always wants the ball more. Someone wants to shoot more. Someone wants to score more points. So, they think they need to get more "touches" during possessions. They want plays run for them. They want everyone screening for them so that they can get open and score more points. I mean girls love the star and the star is the leading scorer (sarcasm here) of course.

Most players don't realize that they can be the leading scorer and shoot a ridiculously high percentage if they do certain things. One example is setting screens. Most defenses focus on stopping the cutter and often times forget about the screener who will be open a lot if the player understands how to make a "second cut" to either the basket or to an open area for a jumper. Plus, if you are constantly screening for guys...your teammates are going to like you and it will probably take them awhile to figure out you are scoring a lot of points because you are doing the screening. It makes the team run very well.

Second way to get a lot of high percentage shots is to offensive rebound like crazy. I learned this important necessity at the prestigious "Five-Star Basketball Camp" in the summer before my junior year of high school. It is basically a college exposure camp with a lot of good teaching going on. Well during camps like that players want to score and more importantly shoot a lot. They want to get recognized. I, of course, would try to get open on the perimeter as I was a guard but then when a player took a shot I hit the boards hard and every time. I basically ended up dominating through offensive rebounding and made the camp all-star team (hidden brag). Colleges put me on their lists either through seeing my name on the all-star team at the camp or seeing my effort during the week. Either way I accomplished what every player wanted to do without needing screens or needing touches. I forced touches by outworking the other guys.

Find a way to get the job done without being selfish. I helped the team win by screening and offensive rebounding. I then got to shoot because generally I was near the basket after an offensive rebound. Find a way to help yourself by helping the team. Do not expect the team to help you become a star.

Friday, March 6, 2009

First Time

Tonight I saw something that I don't think I have ever seen in my life. Justin Martin of Lawrence North, who is verballed committed to Louisville, missed a dunk and his teammate Dominique Ferguson, who is verballed committed to Kentucky, tip dunked the miss. I think that is the first time I have ever seen that. The play was definitely interesting to see mainly because Ferguson pounded the dunk too.

Always something new to see in the game of basketball.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Sectional Time

Sectional time in Indiana is March Madness plus more insanity. It is the first round of playoff basketball and every team makes it no matter how bad their record is during the season. It was tainted a little bit by the move to class basketball about a decade ago, but it is still bedlam.

I will be making Arlington my hang out spot. They have some great teams including Lawrence North(home of Greg Oden and Eric Montross), North Central (home of Eric Gordon and Jason Gardner), Cathedral and Lawrence Central.

The first game in sectional 10 play was North Central Vs. Cathedral. The bad thing about a random draw sectional and overall tournament is that you have teams that could dominate other sectionals playing each other in the first game. It was a packed house with standing room only available by the tip. Both teams played with great intensity and it was a nail bitter until in the 4th quarter North Central created some separation.

Lawrence North has four players already committed to Louisville (one senior, one junior, and two sophomores)...that is something interesting. Coach Pitino is banking on one school an awful lot. A definite pipeline has been formed between the two schools though. Lawrence North hasn't made a deep run since Greg Oden was a senior when they were crowded the mythical national champs.

As they say in "Hoosiers", welcome to Indiana high school basketball.