Archive for May, 2011

By Marcus Shockley

Rising Coaches Elite

Last year, when three support assistants under then-Clemson coach Oliver Purnell brainstormed the concept of a conference for up-and-coming support staff such as themselves, they weren’t really sure the idea had legs. However, after lining up a sponsor for the event and speakers, they realized that it was viable – and they needed to get to work. The Rising Coaches Elite conference, held in Las Vegas just before the July recruiting period, was a success. The group also held an event at the Final Four in Houston. This year’s summer conference, again to be held in Las Vegas, builds on what was accomplished last year and looks to make even more of an impact.

The response and attendance for the inaugural event exceeded expectations, and it looks like attendance will be even higher this year, judging from early registrations.

Adam Gordon, who co-created the conference along with Andy Farrell and Trey Meyer, says that the driving idea behind the conference is to cater to support staff roles, such as Graduate Assistants and other not-quite-assistant coaches. By providing elite college coaches as speakers and an opportunity at networking, the conference is focused on the career of college coaching. This year’s speakers who have been confirmed include Kevin O’Neill of USC, Cuonzo Martin of Tennessee, John Cooper of Tennessee State, Dana Ford of Wichita State, and several others who will be named as the conference date approaches.

The content of the conference is not about Xs and Os, but more about moving up in a coaching career, and advice from established national coaches who have put together successful careers themselves. This is an excellent opportunity for up-and-coming assistants and support staff to learn firsthand what it takes to succeed from a career-management perspective.

The conference is sponsored by XOS Digital and is currently open to Division I coaches and their support staff. For more information about the event, visit Rising Coaches Elite online, or email for more information at risingcoacheselite@gmail.com. You can also follow them on Twitter for updates about speakers and other news @risingcoaches.

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By Marcus Shockley

Chicago Bulls forward Carlos Boozer (5) drives the lane during game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals. 2nd half action against the Miami Heat at the American Airlines Arena, in Miami, Florida May 22, 2011. .The Chicago Bulls beat the Miami Heat 96-85.. UPI/Susan Knowles…

I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but the transformation of Carlos Boozer into a player who won’t play defense is complete, and it just might be the reason the Bulls can’t beat the Heat during this playoff run. Tossing aside some of the obvious stories and issues with this series, such as the Heat working well together to claw out wins, to the repeated uncalled fouls that Derrick Rose isn’t getting, Boozer’s approach has gotten to the point of absurdity.

However, within all of this, I will go out on a limb and say that the Bulls may ultimately get the last laugh.

I want to be clear on this; it is not that Carlos Boozer can’t play defense, but that he absolutely won’t. The closest he now seems willing to do is a matador-style arm wave or two while his defender blows by him, but most of the time he’s content to let his man roam free and shoot uncontested shots as much as they may like.

This has hurt the Bulls in all of their losses to the Heat, but none more than when Boozer is guarding Chris Bosh, a player who has an exceptional mid range game and should never be allowed to get the kind of open looks that Boozer allows.

This year, the Heat and the Mavs are probably the story of the Finals, and the Heat will seem poised to be the next dynasty, even if the Mavericks are able to finally get Kidd and Dirk a ring.

I wouldn’t be so sure about that, though. The Bulls are one scoring wing away from being incredibly good, and considering the youth of Gibson, Noah and Rose, might be the real future of the East, if not the whole NBA. Oklahoma City wants to be the next superpower in the West, but they aren’t as close to greatness as the Bulls are, win or lose.

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Emily Tay is a baller. Like most athletes who find a love of the game on the hardwood, a college career doesn’t come easy, having to fight to prove oneself every time they step on the court. Families who may not believe in them, or perhaps believe in them too much, injuries, financial difficulties and scholastic work all stand as obstacles to a collegiate career as a basketball player.

Getting to the pros is even more difficult, with even top flight collegiate players having to find their way to a career overseas, far from the adoring U.S. fans who cheered them on in college.

This is they way for so many basketball players. Emily Tay’s story is so much like theirs and yet, it’s not. Emily is Asian and a woman, sort of a double whammy of cultures that would not be considered destined for basketball stardom. The movie project ‘No Look Pass’ intends to tell the story of a woman from a Burmese family who works her way into playing college basketball at Harvard and is working on a career as a professional basketball player overseas. The project is currently listed on Kickstarter, and you should take a moment, check out the trailer and consider donating to help the movie to completion. It’s a great story and there aren’t enough great basketball documentaries out there that show real life like this one promises to do.

By James Blackburn

Carolina Phenoms- 17- U AAU

Keshun Sherrill (PG, 5’10”, 2012, West Rowan HS)

Explosive PG who can get to the basket at will and handle the ball effectively with either hand. Strong upper body strength and tremendous body control in air allows him to finish with contact. Uses his body to shield bigger defenders on drives to the hoop. Draws fouls at a high rate – great FT shooter. Changes speeds well and attacks the rim hard. Good shooter in general – high release, good ball rotation, and gets elevation, especially on his midrange pull-up. Most effective and dangerous in transition. High motor player, but plays under control and is calm and poised as PG. Makes good decisions. Solid, smart, and willing passer – always has eyes up to see floor. Quick and active. Athletic. Good rebounder and great finisher for size. Ability to score in bunches.

Notes

AAU coach said that NC A&T has offered and he also has Western Carolina heavily recruiting him. A 3 year starter at West Rowan HS. Averaged 17.5 ppg as a sophomore and was All-County as sophomore.

Moussa Doucara (PF, 6’9”, 2012, North Hills Christian)

Runs the floor and rebounds the ball well, especially on the defensive end. Keeps the ball high and throws good outlet passes. Great shooter with 3 point range. Picks his spots well and is deadly against the zone. Posses major matchup problems because of ability to shoot the basketball. Fades a little bit on jumper, but a solid shooter none the less. More of a finesse player than a power player. Long wingspan. Needs to continue to improve hands and get stronger- struggles against stronger and bigger players. Low motor. Smooth and highly skilled. Best player in the tournament in my opinion. Virtually unguardable by teams represented today.

Notes

UNCG, UNCC, Western Carolina, and Charleston are all recruiting him. Played for the Adidas Nations Tournament in 2010 for Team Africa. Family is originally from Mali, but he grew up in Paris.

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Out With The Old Boss

By Marcus Shockley

Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kevin Durant (L) and James Harden celebrate against the Dallas Mavericks during the second half of Game 2 of the NBA Western Conference Final basketball playoff in Dallas, Texas May 19, 2011. REUTERS/Mike Stone (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

A lot has been made of the fact that the ‘old guard’ of the NBA has been eliminated from this year’s NBA playoffs. Unless, of course, you count the Dallas Mavericks. The push out of the last decade’s dominant players certainly looks like the chance for the NBA to usher in a new era, but the Mavericks might not be too keen on being put out to pasture just yet.

It’s probably not entirely accurate to put James, Wade and Bosh into the new guard, as they sort of straddle the existing dominant teams and the brand new powerhouses of the Chicago Bulls and Oklahoma City Thunder. But at the very least, it does seem like a new era has arrived in the NBA.

Kevin Durant and Derrick Rose are the new faces of the NBA, and quite frankly, may be the best be for long term financial success for the league. Fans outside of Miami aren’t too keen on the Heat, but most basketball watchers think very highly of Durant and Rose. They not only sell tickets, they sell the league, much like Magic Johnson and Larry Bird did years ago.

Anthony Davis was one of the Co-MVP winners of the Jordan Brand Classic. Here’s his comments after the game of playing with his future Kentucky basketball teammates and what Michael Jordan meant to him growing up. Davis also discussed what Coach Calipari and staff have been talking to him about and what he should work on before arriving at Kentucky.

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By James Blackburn

Oklahoma City Thunder guard James Harden (L) and forward Kevin Durant (R) celebrate after Harden scored a 3-point shot against the Memphis Grizzlies in the second half of Game 7 of their second round Western Conference NBA basketball playoffs in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma May 15, 2011. REUTERS/Bill Waugh (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

Second Round of Western Conference NBA Playoffs- Game 7
Thunder win 105-90

Box Score

Scouting Reports

Thunder

James Harden (31 min, 6-10 FG, 4-8 3pt, 4 reb, 3 assist, 4 steals, 17 TP)

Strengths – Smart player who makes good decisions. Solid all-around type player who is versatile and can do many things well; reminds me of Josh Howard. He plays a similar role to the one that Howard played in Dallas. Spaces the floor with his outside shooting. Has the ability to shoot with feet set off the catch, and can also create his own offense where he can shoot off the dribble and attack the basket because of athleticism. Poised and calm throughout game. Good rebounder and passer. Moves well without the ball and floats to the right area of the floor where guard can see him off of penetration. Plays the passing lines well and is a solid defender in general.

Weaknesses – One of the things that makes Harden so good is that he does a great job of maximizing his skills and strengths, and minimizing his weaknesses. With that said, Harden needs to continue to improve his dribbling. Sometimes when he attacks the basket, his handle is a little shaky and he losses control. He was ineffective from the line today (1-4) but has been a 80% FT shooter for his career.

Overview – The more and more I get to watch Harden the more I like his game and the way he plays. He is not flashy and is humble in how he plays. He is such an all-around talent and contributes in so many ways to help his team win. Harden is probably one of the reasons the Thunder were willing to part ways with Jeff Green (among others, like needing another big). The trade has allowed Harden to play more minutes and to become the third option behind Durant and Westbrook. He is stepped into this new role and has flourished. Harden continues to improve every year and his contributions will continue to go mostly unnoticed because of Durant and Westbrook playing on the same team. Has the potential to be an All Star with in a couple of years.

Grizzlies

Zach Randolph (38 minutes, 6-15 FG, 5-6 FT, 10 reb, 1 blk, 1 st, 17 TP)

Strengths – Great midrange shooter. Can hit the 15-18 foot jump shot with consistency from any angle, but he prefers the baseline. Good pick-and-pop player because of shooting ability. Does a good job of drawing contact. Does a good job of shielding more athletic and taller defenders with body and creating space with his strength and width. Patient in the post. Does a nice job of catching, turning, and facing the basket, where he displays solid footwork and patience and takes what the defense gives him – very much like Tim Duncan in that regard. Lefty. Never gives up on the play – scrappy and physical, not the prettiest game. Unconventional style.

Weaknesses – Does a decent job of getting up and down the floor for size, but needs to continue working on getting back on D quicker. Poor P/R defense. Not athletic or long, but uses size well like Charles Barkley used to. Good rebounder in general, but missed more than a couple of box out assignments from the weak side today where his man got the offensive rebound and scored. Forced some shots early in the game against great post defense, but in the second half did a better job of passing out of the double team. He only had 1 assist, but this can not be blamed solely on Randolph. The Grizzlies team struggled today from the field hitting only 39% for the game.

Overview – One of Randolph’s best seasons since being in the NBA. Rewarded by being named to the All-NBA 3rd team. Not the best performance by the big man today, but give OKC players credit. They did a great job defending him and threw some double teams on him in the second half. The Grizzlies ran the offense through him practically the entire second him, but Randolph had difficulty scoring over Ibaka and Collison today.

Shane Battier (27 min, 2-6 FG, 4 reb, 1 st, 4 TP)

Strengths – Good set shooter from 3. Talks on defense and does a good job of playing help defense and being in good defensive position. Gets hand up on shooters.

Weaknesses – Good defender in general, but is slow moving laterally. Can not create his own offense. On a 2 on 1 break, he floated to the corner for the 3, when he could have had a wide open lay up.

Overview – Battier was a great pick up for Memphis and was one of the most underrated and overlooked mid-season pickups in the NBA this year. Battier’s grit, toughness, and smarts were one of the big reasons Memphis had made it this far. He has taken a lot of the principals that were taught to him at Duke and carried them to the NBA. Great role player.

Marc Gasol (37 min, 4-10 FG, 4-4 FT, 7 reb, 2 blk, 12 TP)

Strengths – Strong rebounder. Good passer; throws good outlet passes to guards leaking out. Sets wide screens. Great post defender, plays big and tough, makes himself tall and wide. Likes turn around jumper from over his right shoulder.

Weaknesses – Must continue to work on midrange/FT area jumper. Kendrick Perkins would give him a lot of space and dare him to shoot that shot today. Complained to the officials several times about a no call, while other team went down court and scored.

Overview – Gasol is a great complementary piece next to Randolph. He does all the dirty work, defends, and sets screens. Any scoring he does is an added bonus. His offensive game has improved immensely since coming into the league. Settled for the easy play today at times offensively instead of attacking, evidence by his 4-10 shooting. Gasol and Randolph should serve as one of the league’s most feared front courts for years to come.

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Southeast Summer Showcase basketball north carolina Hey! Have you heard about the Southeast Summer Showcase? It’s a premier individual players’ showcase, taking place on June 25. Rivals affiliates, college coaches and scouting services will be on hand for this high level, high competition basketball showdown. Click here and get more information today.
Southeast Summer Showcase basketball north carolina Have you heard about the Southeast Summer Showcase? It’s a premier individual players’ showcase, taking place on June 25. Rivals affiliates, college coaches and scouting services will be on hand for this high level, high competition basketball showdown. Click here and get more information today.

You can also keep updated with some of the latest information from the event Facebook page.

Tyler Lewis All Access

As our follow up to our recent interview with Tyler Lewis, we wanted to share the All Access feature from our friends at CourtCred.com. Enjoy!

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Southeast Summer Showcase basketball north carolina Hey! Have you heard about the Southeast Summer Showcase? It’s a premier individual players’ showcase, taking place on June 25. Rivals affiliates, college coaches and scouting services will be on hand for this high level, high competition basketball showdown. Click here and get more information today.

The Value Of Phil Jackson

By Marcus Shockley

Phil Jackson
Photo: BridgetDS

It’s hard for most basketball fans to think of Phil Jackson as either the greatest pro basketball coach of all time or one of the two greatest, with the only other contender being Red Auerbach of the legendary Boston Celtics.

With 11 championship rings on his resume, it would seem easy to place him at the top of the list. But Phil has the dubious distinction with having coached not just one of the greatest players of all time, but three of them. Fans look at Phil’s rings and think that it might not be a valid argument that he actually ‘coached’ his way to those championships.

Of course, winning championships is a measure of success, but it’s not the only one. Fans also know that NBA coaches may be the least involved in the success of their teams, playing more babysitter than coach and having less influence on outcomes of games than possibly any other sport. So, where does all of that place Phil in the history of basketball?

It goes without saying that Phil Jackson is a Hall of Fame coach. Some have pointed out that Phil was able to win in Chicago and L.A. with teams that other coaches were not able to win with. This argument isn’t entirely accurate, but at the core of Phil’s success is obviously his ability to work with large ego players and manage them. Players who have worked with Phil say he does actually coach, something that can’t be said about the majority of head men sitting on benches in the NBA. So Jackson must be, at the very least, recognized for his ability to create group success.

The real problem that so many fans have with calling Phil Jackson the greatest coach is that coaches in the NBA and the work they do to get the most out of their talent pales in comparison to college basketball coaches and all football coaches. The harsh reality is that almost every college coach wishes that he had so much talent on his roster that his only problem is ‘getting them to play together’. Could Phil Jackson take a team like Butler or VCU to the Final Four or title game? We’ll never know.

This means that Phil Jackson can only be compared to other NBA coaches in historical terms.

However, if Phil is truly retired for good this time, the NBA has lost one of it’s best managers and a man who was able to sustain his success and consistency for longer than any other coach in NBA history. That, alone, is his legacy and what he should be remembered for.

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Southeast Summer Showcase basketball north carolina Hey! Have you heard about the Southeast Summer Showcase? It’s a premier individual players’ showcase, taking place on June 25. Rivals affiliates, college coaches and scouting services will be on hand for this high level, high competition basketball showdown. Click here and get more information today.