October 31, 2009

Reaction to -> ESPN – Rules impact cash flow to third wheels

Filed under: Mike Flynn — mikeflynn @ 1:57 am

This next article was posted in response to the NCAA Board approving some proposals and putting some in discussion for a vote in April.  A lot of people are affected by these “new” actions.  Unfortunately the impact of these rules haven’t been properly or totally vetted in the full basketball community.  Below is my commentary and response to the story posted at ESPN.  Things like this are the reason for YB21.ORG to become a reality and a necessity in these turbulent times.


PLEASE READ CLOSELY — Always remember when you limit access you create a problem someplace else. By reading the third paragraph NO High School coach can be hired as they have present prospects and future prospects?  Why didn’t she explain proprietary interest? There are two parts to this legislation: the first three listed below and then the rest of the legislation to be voted upon in January.  There is too much vague verbiage for immediate comment except to ask the NCAA for clarification to the terms “associated” as that could mean HS coach as well as travel or third person / payments to non profits associated with proprietary interest? this means what? / No one has an issue with the 900 number.  Please note that if you have issues with this to please bring them to the meeting on Nov. 21 or email them to me prior to the meeting.  The second part – Rest of the Package – will be voted upon in April. I would suggest looking over the exact things you find question with and contact college coaches you know and complain and ask questions of them. From a legal standpoint – nothing can be done until the process is final for any type of legal action to take place from the non-scholastic community because at this point it is all discussion. Some of these have to be clarified or put into action before legal action can be discussed.  If some of these do happen there will be strong moves to take actions of some sort. Voice your opinion, contact people, ask questions, be active. YB21 is engaged in making this a discussion. — Mike
Updated: October 30, 2009, 10:48 AM ET

Rules impact cash flow to third wheels

ESPN.com news services

INDIANAPOLIS — The NCAA has approved new rules on basketball recruiting intended to restrict money being funneled to third parties.

The governing body wants to limit access by coaches from outside the NCAA who run camps and try to enlist players.

Effective immediately, (1) coaches will no longer be allowed to employ a person associated with a prospective student-athlete at a camp or clinic, (2) make payments to nonprofit organizations that a person associated with a prospect has either a proprietary or financial interest in, or (3) use 1-900 telephone numbers for recruiting purposes.

Coaches found in violation of any of the rules could be suspended from coaching regular-season or NCAA tournament games.

The rest of the package, which includes legislation aimed at stopping so-called package deals, will be sponsored by the board of directors. Member institutions will be solicited for feedback, with a vote on changes expected in April.

“I do think it will pass,” Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe said. “It has the unanimous support of all of the commissioners and as commissioners, we represent what at least the majority of membership is feeling. We wouldn’t support this so strongly if we didn’t feel like it was something our members wanted.

“There’s been so much concern about the culture of men’s basketball and the unsavory influences. There are so many coaches who want to do the right thing but feel pressured to deal with these outside people. This helps put a stop to that.”

Because the proposed rule changes come with the support of the board of directors as well as the conference commissioners — Beebe, SEC commissioner Mike Slive, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany and Conference USA commissioner Britton Banowsky attended Thursday’s board meeting to voice their support — they are expected to pass with only minor tweaks.

The proposals have met little resistance save for a suggestion that coaches no longer be able to hire anyone other than students and staff members from their respective campuses for camps and clinics.

The NCAA on Thursday also put in place a six-member committee to select a successor to the late Myles Brand as NCAA president. The group will be led by Oregon State president Ed Ray and is to meet Thursday night.

Ray replaces Georgia president Michael Adams, who is leaving immediately as the board’s executive committee chairman. Adams is believed to be a top candidate for the NCAA president’s job.

The NCAA also approved a $35 million addition to its headquarters in Indianapolis. WHERE DO YOU THINK THE MONEY CAME FOR THIS?  ESPECIALLY WHEN ATHLETES ARE GETTING JUST A SCHOLARSHIP?

ESPN’s Dana O’Neil and The Associated Press contributed to this report.



Reaction to -> NCAA – Board approves basketball recruiting reforms

Filed under: Mike Flynn — mikeflynn @ 1:51 am

This is the NCAA’s official release on the subjects which were approved and my response to some of the parts presented.


Oct 29, 2009 4:32:14 PM

Board approves basketball recruiting reforms

By Michelle Brutlag Hosick
The NCAA News


The Division I Board of Directors approved a package of proposals designed to curb compensatory relationships with people associated with men’s basketball prospects and suspend coaches who violate those rules, sending a message to the membership that the issue is a top priority for presidents.

The package received broad support from a number of constituencies, including conference commissioners, basketball coaches, the Amateur Athletic Union, the chair of the Legislative Council and other presidents.

“The process shows the NCAA at its very best: We identified a need; we brought all the players to the table – including the coaches – to build consensus and support; and we worked within the governance system for solutions,” said Board chair Jim Barker, president at Clemson.

The plan adopted by the Board takes some actions immediately and puts others into the legislative cycle to be considered by the Division I governance structure.

The immediate actions include a tighter definition of a “recruited student-athlete” in men’s basketball to include anyone who has received recruiting materials or had any recruiting contact with a coaching staff member or was asked to attend an institutional camp or enroll at an institution. The Board also immediately adopted a series of interpretations meant to eliminate the funneling of money to people associated with prospects through:

  • Employment relating to non-coaching staff positions
  • Employment at camps and clinics
  • Payment of consulting fees
  • Subscriptions to recruiting services with limited value
  • Donations to nonprofits
  • 1-900 numbers for telephone contact with a recruit.

The proposal also includes sanctions for head coaches and assistant coaches that range from being unable to coach regular-season games to being withheld from coaching NCAA postseason contests. The NCAA enforcement staff and the Division I Committee on Infractions would be the adjudicating bodies in those instances. Tougher eligibility consequences for prospects or student-athletes involved in the violations are also part of the package.  BUT WILL THE BIG NAMES ON THESE COMMITTEES REALLY PUNISH THEIR OWN KIND? THE VIEW IS THAT THIS IS TO PUNISH THOSE TRYING TO GET TO THE TOP AND NOT THOSE AT THE TOP.

A group of commissioners presented the proposal to the Board, including Big Ten Conference Commissioner Jim Delany.

“This is the NCAA addressing issues in absolutely the correct way. All the parties that have an interest from the educational perspective were represented,” Delany said. “It really places the enforcement of these standards at a very high priority for the staff.”  EDUCATIONAL PERSPECTIVE? SPIN?

Jim Haney, executive director of the National Association of Basketball Coaches, also supported the plan, indicating that his board had been concerned about the men’s basketball recruiting environment for some time.

“For us, this package is consistent with the direction we’ve been going in the last several years, and we’re pleased to support it,” Haney said. “We encourage continued dialogue to address these issues.”

While some Board members expressed a desire to be sure the regular process for legislation was followed, Legislative Council chair Joseph D’Antonio said his group supported the proposal before the Board for immediate action because the issue was important enough to demand Board attention.

Other proposals will be introduced into the 2009-10 legislative cycle, to be vetted by the Legislative Council and the membership. These proposals target:

  • Noncoaching staff hiring practices by prohibiting institutions from hiring as noncoaching personnel individuals associated with prospects two years before or after the prospect’s actual or anticipated enrollment. The legislation is intended to offer coaches a choice between recruiting the prospect and hiring the person associated with the prospect. EMPLOYMENT LAWS?
  • Institutional camp/clinic employment by allowing institutions to hire only its own staff members or enrolled students at its camps and clinics. HARD TO DO
  • Institutional camp operation by allowing recruiting during institutional camps, and stating that prospects do not have to leave the locale to begin an unofficial visit. HUGE CHANGE
  • Nonscholastic events on campus by prohibiting Division I institutions from hosting, sponsoring or conducting nonscholastic men’s basketball events on campus or in facilities regularly used by the institution. A LEGAL ISSUE HERE…
  • Payment of consulting fees by prohibiting fees to individuals associated with a prospect.VAGUE

While the proposals deal specifically with men’s basketball, several presidents indicated a desire to keep an eye on the recruiting environment in other sports as well – especially football and women’s basketball – to see if similar action is necessary in those sports. FOOTBALL? THEY WON’T TOUCH THAT ONE…

The Legislative Council will review and cast initial votes on the proposals the Board entered into the regular legislative cycle at its meeting at the 2010 NCAA Convention in January.

The proposal also referred several issues to the various cabinets and committees in the governance structure, including changes to the recruiting calendar, tryouts and communication with prospects.

Various subgroups will examine those issues with the possibility of creating legislation for the 2010-11 cycle.

Host for the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship Buffalo 1st & 2nd Rounds in 2010. For tickets go to: www.hsbcarena.com

Response to -> ESPN – Cleaning up hoops recruiting from within

Filed under: Mike Flynn — mikeflynn @ 1:46 am

The following is a response to an article that was posted at ESPN.com  This constituted an email that was emailed out to a large group of very influential youth basketball people at all levels.  As this subject and information is important in providing information to the general public which does not know of a majority of the things going on behind the walls of power about the sport.  Decisions and attitiudes are being constantly bombarded with an NCAA spin and a very large paint-brush approach towards the negative viewpoint as they see it of youth basketball. This article and others I will post here will help to provide balance which is missing from the present discussion.

Below if a very cynical article and reaction to the NCAA rules that are being viewed this week.  At no point is there a comment from the non-scholastic basketball community.  No balance in the story – or balancing opinion from non-collegiate sources.  The NCAA wants to make the long-documented NCAA D1 institutional ”developmental” camps, especially the new breed of “Elite Camp” into full-blown “Recruiting Camps” as they have eliminated the competition from this business over the past 15 years.  Not happy with the elimination of the Summer Camp business with definitions, calendar and contact rules they are working on creating a vector of “Employment Rules” and other rules to take control of all aspects of scholastic (via the constant message of dealing with the HS coach) and non-scholastic through elimination or minimization.  Mr. Greenberg cites a $1M contract?  Who in non-scholastic basketball is dealing with these numbers. Maybe a handful if that? This comment – more clever people conniving to profit off a high school kid’s talent. – below doesn’t acknowledge that colleges and their coaches do also profit from these same kids.  All of these items are about who “negotiates” the system and who can not and those who view their $1M contract in peril.  As for the “system” they complain about – do they think that this wasn’t the norm in the past? I’ve heard too many “stories” about the big-time men’s programs of the past and how they “got” players.  Does the NCAA and today’s coaches think that the high-school coach and today’s parents don’t “understand the system” too? Many of today’s parents want what they didn’t get when they played or saw around them including the stories.  They want their child to benefit from the game that brings riches to the college coaches and programs too.  Please take time and read this closely and re-read it again later for clarity. These “items” should be addressed and not just accepted blithely.
Cleaning up hoops recruiting from within
By Dana O’Neil
October 28, 2009
It wasn’t so much a demand as a suggestion: If Seth Greenberg was interested in getting a certain high school prospect to his campus for a camp, maybe he could find a paying gig for the prospect’s summer-league coach. The coach could be a camp counselor, speaker, whatever would work.Except Greenberg, the Virginia Tech head coach, has a long-standing practice of not hiring outsiders for his camps. So there were no jobs available for the coach.

No big deal, the summer-league coach explained.

Except, unfortunately, the prospect wouldn’t be able to make it.

Welcome to college basketball recruiting 2009, where prospects may no longer be paid but can just as surely be bought.

Basketball prospects often come with a posse full of people with their hands out, looking for backdoor payments that may not land you a player if you pay them, but will assuredly eliminate you from consideration if you don’t.

“It’s legalized extortion,” Greenberg said. “And what happens is you end up prostituting your value system because it affects your livelihood. If you’re in the next-to-last year of a $1 million contract, what are you going to do? It’s risk and reward.”

The sport and its coaches have taken the hits up until now, criticized and shamed for finding ways to reinterpret the NCAA rulebook.

But the game could be on the eve of some drastic changes. And the people who are proposing the changes? Coaches.

Fed up and frustrated by the state of their game, coaches have contributed their opinions and feedbacks to a package of legislation that the NCAA Division I board of directors will consider on Thursday.

The recruiting reform package has one aim — to curb the payola in college basketball — and already has received the endorsement of the conference commissioners and the National Association of Basketball Coaches.

“There is a very strong feeling amongst our coaches that this money trail has got to be shut down,” said NABC executive director Jim Haney. “We want to break down that perception that everyone has their hand out and is looking at colleges as a bank. I want to stress that it’s not everyone who has their hand out, and certainly there are some among our coaching ranks more than willing to pay the money, but the overall feeling is it has to stop.”

Among the meatier suggestions in the package:

• Eliminating so-called package deals, making it nearly impossible for a college program to hire any of the myriad of hangers-on associated with prospective student-athletes. US EMPLOYMENT LAWS?

• Disallowing college coaches to subscribe to recruiting services run by people associated with prospects. This would curtail services offered by AAU programs (and others) that charge colleges to subscribe but sometimes offer little to no information on the prospect. TOO VAGUE – WHO’S THE JUDGE OF THIS?

• Preventing payment to nonprofit organizations benefiting summer-club teams, prospects or people attached to prospects. TOO VAGUE – WHO’S THE JUDGE OF THIS?

• Preventing coaches from hiring outsiders to work at their camps and clinics.TOO VAGUE – WHO’S THE JUDGE OF THIS?  AND US EMPLOYMENT LAWS?

All are designed, in the words of Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany, to “bright line” what is legal and illegal in a portion of the black-and-white rulebook that has been smudged gray. VAGUE

The board of directors has the authority to enact some of the changes immediately. Most would go in effect by May 2010.

“I think our coaches were looking for a way to say no to these types of practices,” said LuAnn Humphrey, the NCAA’s associate director of enforcement and a member of the focus group. “There’s been a lot of support for most of the concepts in these proposals.”

As potentially ground-shaking as the rules are, the punishments come with equally sharp teeth.

Head or assistant coaches could be suspended from participation from regular-season games as well as the NCAA tournament, and the penalties would follow him to subsequent jobs.

Also, basketball players caught in the web could be rendered permanently ineligible at a school found guilty of one of these infractions.

“These are potential career-killers,” Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon said. “I’m not saying that it’s too strong, but I just expressed that the punishment to a person’s career will be much greater than the single game we’re talking about.”

That, however, could be the best solution.

“My view is, the head coach knows everything,” Delany said. “That ought to be the presumption going forward. The notion that any CEO in a small operation can take the ostrich defense ought to be eliminated.”

The only proposed change that is receiving any real resistance is a limit to who can and can’t work on-campus camps.

Otherwise there is almost universal consensus on the package and an expectation that it will pass.

The lunatics long have been running basketball’s asylum, with more and more clever people conniving to profit off a high school kid’s talent.

In some regards, the NCAA rulebook opened its own Pandora’s box. By putting more and more restrictions on how often a college coach can either meet with or talk to a prospect or a prospect’s family, the NCAA has opened wide the door for other people associated with high school players to waltz through and demand attention.

“It used to be, you had to recruit the mom,” Haney said. “Those days are over. You don’t have the time for that kind of contact, so we’ve almost legitimized these third parties.”

And taking more than their offered inch, some of the third parties have turned college basketball into a world of shakedown-for-profit, a land where peripheral people use players as pawns in a high-stakes game for profit.

It is quid pro quo at its best — or maybe more accurately, at its worst — and has led to a crisis of conscience for some coaches who are tired of being forced to play dirty to survive.

“It’s never been voiced to me, but there’s an unwritten rule: You want my kid, you pay the price,” said Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel. “You just know it because people have that reputation, and the problem is, if you don’t do it, someone else will.”

Out of such frustration grew the focus group. Put together in June 2008, it marks the first time three members of the NCAA enforcement staff have been asked to concentrate exclusively on one sport.

Using opinions, information and suggestions it solicited from coaches and conference commissioners, the focus group developed the rule suggestions that will go before the board.

The primary targets:

• Package deals: Around for decades, the hire-me-get-him deals have grown exponentially as basketball staffs have mushroomed to the point that a 4:1 staff to player ratio is common. Video coordinators have assistants; strength coaches have assistants. Even assistants have assistants.

Under the proposal being considered, “during a two-year period prior or subsequent to the anticipated or actual enrollment of a prospective student-athlete, an institution may not employ and individual associated with the prospective student-athlete in any athletics department noncoaching position.”  WHAT ABOUT COLLEGES HIRING THEIR OWN RELATIVES ON STAFF?  ARE THERE ISSUES WITH EMPLOYMENT LAW?

The key words: non-coaching position.

“I’m no angel and I’m no altar boy,” said Seton Hall’s Bobby Gonzalez. “But in 10 years as a head coach, I can tell you I’ve never had to hire a guy to get a kid. Maybe it’s because I’ve been at schools like Manhattan and Seton Hall, where we didn’t have the resources even if we wanted to, but I’d like to think that I’d never be that desperate. Now if they put the rule in, it’s the same for everybody: You have to work to get a kid. It eliminates another line between the haves and the have-nots.”

And it’s not just the head coach who would be penalized if he tried to pull off a package deal. “If such a hire is made following the enrollment of a prospective student-athlete after they enroll at the institution within the two year-period,” the recommendation reads, “the student-athlete becomes permanently ineligible for competition.”

• Payments to not-for-profits run by people associated with prospects: Call this one a borrowed page from the football playbook — the end-around. Countless summer-league teams are organized as not-for-profit organizations, making payments to them seem like little more than a charitable donation. The truth is, the money goes to the basketball team, which means indirectly it’s going to a prospect. MORE WORK HAS TO BE DONE TO PROVE SOME OF THESE….  INDIRECTLY?  AND “ASSOCIATED”.. TOO VAGUE. THEN WHO MAKES THESE RULES?  THE HAVES OR UNTOUCHABLES?  NO VISIBILITY HERE…

No more.

The new legislation would require every coach to annual state in writing that he has not donated or solicited funds on behalf of such nonprofit organizations.  TOO VAGUE STILL – BETTER VERBAGE NEEDED.

• Payments to recruiting services run by people associated with prospects: These aren’t to be confused with the legit services run by people like Dave Telep, Tom Konchalski and Clark Francis, who work independently of any team. WHO MADE THIS DECISION?  Presumably these services in question contain information on a coach’s various players at various tournaments. Except most of the time they aren’t updated with new information, or they contain no information at all.  BETTER GUIDELINES?  THIS IS WHERE YB21 CAN HELP.

Yet to stay in with the people with the connections, a basketball program can spend upwards of $15,000 on recruiting services alone.  THE NEXT COMPLAINT WILL BE ABOUT THOSE WHO CAN “BUY” THE “LEGAL” SERVICES… THEY SHOULD BENEFIT FROM THAT INFORMATION EITHER…

“When you have the amount of money generated like we do in college athletics, there will always be people who would like to be compensated, some fairly and some unfairly,” said Florida head coach Billy Donovan. “Some of these provide legitimate information, but others? There’s nothing, and yet if you don’t subscribe to their service, they’ll give you a hard time recruiting.”  YB21 HAS GUIDELINES TO HELP THIS.. BUT IN THE END ITS ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS – THEY WON’T GO AWAY.

• Who can and cannot work at camps: This is the stickler. As currently written, the rule would only allow a coach to hire students and staff members from his own campus. AND THEN THE SMALL STAFF COULDN’T HANDLE A BIG CAMP LET ALONE EXPERIENCE AND TEACHING OR RECRUITING.

The real target is ending the gravy train of excessive payment to people associated with prospects. But because of the broad language of the rule as written, coaches are concerned that the best networking tool for young coaches could disappear. THIS IS TRUE AND WHAT OCCURS IN FOOTBALL. PAY FOR EXPERIENCE NOT RELATIONSHIPS. – PLUS, DOESN’T THIS OPEN TO DOOR TO DISCUSS “EXCESSIVE PAY FOR COLLEGE COACHES” AS TALKED ABOUT BY SOME?

“When I was just getting started, Mike Krzyzewski told me to work camps to get my foot in the door,” Capel said. “If we couldn’t work camps, my father never would have been a head coach, so I don’t think you can eliminate that across the board.” THANK YOU

The real wrinkle in all of this is whether the new rules will work.

Eradicating cynicism in college basketball is almost more difficult than erasing rule-breaking.

The pie-eyed and naive opinion is that this will eradicate the problems forever and that coaches will at least wipe one level of grime off their sport.

The reality?

“We are incredibly resourceful in this business,” Gonzalez said. “We’re like the best thieves in the world, the guys who figure out how to break into the impossible-to-break bank. There are things we won’t even think of until the rules are put in, so we’ll see. We’ll see.”   THE BEST WAY TO VIEW THIS IS TO THINK ABOUT WHO (COLLEGES) BENEFITS FROM THIS AND WHO DOESN’T – THEN YOU SEE THE INTENT…

At least this is a start. 



October 26, 2009

Fanning the flames of a faux flap

Filed under: Wendy Parker — wendyp @ 12:22 pm

I thought this was a bogus story when I first heard about it, and can’t believe The New York Times made such a big deal about it over the weekend: President Obama’s all-guys hoops games, and what that might say about the true influence and “place” for women in his administration:

“Women are Obama’s base, and they don’t seem to have enough people who look like the base inside of their own inner circle,” said Dee Dee Myers, a former press secretary in the Clinton administration whose sister, Betsy, served as the Obama campaign’s chief operating officer.

Ms. Myers said women have high expectations of the president. “Obama has a personal style that appeals to women,” she said. “He is seen as a consensus builder; he is not a towel snapper and does not tell crude jokes.”

But wait, the hectoring gets sillier still, from NOW president Terry O’Neill. Then again, Obama was remiss in filling out an NCAA women’s basketball tournament bracket last season. What a Neanderthal!

So if he ditched Reggie Love and put Alana Beard on the White House halfcourt, would this make the Sisterhood happy? I doubt it.

At least Obama is playing golf with a woman! Oh joy! Nip that Martha Burk problem in the bud before it sprouts.

I don’t know what it’s like to be a woman in the realm of high political circles, but I do cover sports for a living, and have devoted much of my work to covering women’s sports. Dee Dee, you don’t know towel-snapping like I do! If only I could give you a post-game tour of football locker rooms.

I know what it’s like to operate in a mostly male environment, and to push for more media coverage of women athletes who aren’t in the so-called “Bambi” sports (tennis, gymnastics, figure skating, etc.). If you’re not dubbed an “advocate” for a sport instead of a supposedly “objective” reporter, then you’re called far worse than that. So, why are you really interested in women’s sports? Heh, heh.

But I find this whining from very privileged women — the products of elite educations and powerful political, corporate and social connections I have never enjoyed — absolutely bamboozling. Former Wall Street Journal deputy managing editor Joane Lipman, also writing in the NYT over the weekend, sounds as though we’re still in the 1970s.

Perhaps this is the mid-life crisis issue for women of my generation. I understand their frustration, but I don’t appreciate the implication that their experiences speak for all of us.

Neither do I have a problem with guys wanting to be with the guys. Even males I know who are deeply involved in women’s sports do this. If guys desire the release best provided by drinking buddies, cigar companions and steamroom pals, so what? It’s a deeply human, and not just male, urge. Women have their outlets too, and not just at shopping malls.

This complaining resonates of the gender wars in women’s college sports dating back to the early 1990s. It was a contentious and unhappy time, especially in women’s basketball, where the push to hire women above all for top coaching jobs rankled some men who had devoted their careers to the sport. I won’t recount all of that here, except to make this point:

The young women who are coaching now, and who are playing the game, will go through their own frustrations and obstacles, especially if they remain in a largely male endeavor. Some of it will come about because there is blatant sex discrimination that will always continue to exist.

But some of the shortcomings can’t be struck up to gender issues. They’re the products of family matters, unrealized career ambitions and unexpected developments that occur to men and women in the course of daily life. Learning to make the distinction could be the key to avoiding the kind of sour mid-life mood that some Baby Boomer women, the first true inheritors of the feminist legacy, are starting to feel.

October 24, 2009

Random Info and Thoughts

Filed under: Kevin Lynch — Kevin Lynch @ 12:17 pm

Holzer out for Season

Steph Holzer who led Cardinal O’Hara to a state title game in 2009 is out for the season at Vanderbilt University. Stephanie was operated on Monday in Tennessee and had a plate and pins put in her ankle. The coaching staff at Vanderbilt had big plans for Steph this season, as she was expected to play a major role in helping the Commodores defend their 2009 Southeast Conference title. I spoke to Vanderbilt Head Coach Melanie Balcomb this week , and the concern and disappointment in Stephs misfortune was evident. Losing a McDonalds All-American is a major blow to any team, especially as Holzer was stepping up as a leader on and off the court. As anyone who knows this kid will attest, she will work hard and get back to where she wants to be ASAP..on a basketball court.

Maybe the WNBA is not dead yet. Recently released TV ratings show playoff viewers up over 70% from 2008. This is a positive sign for this league, as the majority of teams are losing money, and its big brother, the NBA, has begun to wean its self of carrying the league financially. The Detroit Shock, one of the league’s most successful teams the last few years has moved to Tulsa. This is a big test for the WNBA, can they pull in the numbers needed to survive in a in a smaller market. Will there be enough sustainable enthusiasm, after a exciting finals won by the Diana Taurasi led Phoenix Mercury. I for one hope so.

USA basketball coached by Geno Auriemma won the UMMC Ekaterinburg Invitational without Taurasi and the injured Candice Parker. What Geno did have were four other players that played for him at UConn. Renee Montgomery ,Sue Bird, Tina Charles, and Swin Cash. With the sure fire additions of Taurasi and current UCONN mega star Maya Moore, this Auriemma coached team should be called US/CONN. I do not think all six players will make the final Olympic team, but it is very impressive. Also, to show the level of talent coming out of his program, two players from the home team Ekaterinburg are former UConn players, Asia Jones and Svetlana Abrosimova. It’s no wonder UCONN has six NCAA titles and a winning percentage of over 85%.

Welcome back to Caroline Doty. The sophomore guard from Doylestown is not quite at 100%, but knowing the drive she has, Caroline will be a force with the Huskies for the next three seasons.

October 23, 2009

Previewing the unpredictable

Filed under: Wendy Parker — Tags: , , , — wendyp @ 5:38 pm

Amid the flurry of sorting through college preseason information, it’s easy to employ the casual, snappy lingo that comes with assessing key players and coaches for each team. These thumbnail previews read, and are written, as if these individuals are all mechanical pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, neatly tied together with a couple of brief pronouncements summing up a team’s prospects:

“The days of (School X) being an easy win in conference play have probably come to an end.”

“The level of patience at (School Y) beyond this season may well depend on the strides made in the short term.”

These are actual sentences I’ve written in recent weeks, as I paused only briefly to double-check spellings, statistics and whether or not what I wrote made sense.

The whirlwind of getting these profiles written and published is like this every time this year, and pondering the intangibles — those often wildly and unexpected human dynamics — doesn’t always enter the equation. Even coaches who spent hours with their players every day have to bank on the unpredictable.

But four programs couldn’t have imagined the truly frightening events in recent months that have involved three of the promising players in the game and touched the best team in the land.

North Carolina forward Jessica Breland, placed on the watch lists of all the national player of the year awards, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in May and began immediate chemotherapy. Tennessee sophomore Amber Gray underwent life-saving surgery in the summer, after a blood vessel broke in her brain, which was triggered during a routine operation to repair a damaged rotator cuff.

More recently, incoming University of California standout Tierra Rogers collapsed during and after a preseason workout. She was rushed to a hospital where doctors detected a heart condition that can be fatal to young athletes, and her career ended before she ever played a college game.

And just last week, the NCAA champions from UConn were dealing with the campus murder of football player Jasper Howard, who occasionally played pickup games with some of the Huskies. All-American Tina Charles had gotten to know Howard well, on the court and in the classroom.

How does one try to delicately weave these developments into a tight preview capsule? Will it seem rushed, even crass, given the need to rate the quality of returning and incoming players and judge those who have moved on? Finding the right touch, and right words, can be elusive.

Breland is in school in Chapel Hill, but her status for the basketball season has not been determined until her chemotherapy was complete. Gray is back in Knoxville taking a few classes and she will not play this season. Whether she plays again is uncertain. Rogers is done playing the game, but has been voted a team captain and will stay on scholarship. Charles and her teammates will carry heavy hearts into the season as they remember their fallen friend.

Despite the great talent and coaching at all four schools, their programs have been indelibly altered in ways they cannot imagine right now. There’s no proper way to write a preview that gives off even a hint of how they might respond.

October 19, 2009

CM Practice Sabbatical

Filed under: Chris Mennig — ChrisMennig @ 8:47 pm

I know I have neglected my ‘duties’ posting on here.  Again as I always joke with Mike – I went to college for business because I didn’t enjoy writing :-)

After a ground breaking meeting for YB21 in Las Vegas, and the best fall event series of events in USJN/Blue Star history (has over 300 college coaches attend our events in the only weekend of the fall)  It was my first time coordinating/scheduling/etc all 7 of our events – survival would be the best way to describe it :-)

I wanted to make you all aware that if you want to go to www.stmsabers.com (under the News area)  I am writing dialogue to my players/parents back at my high school as I am watching 17 different Division I practices in a 10 day span.

As the signing period being just around the corner – I will be doing our annual college recruiting class rankings again – if anyone hears of new commitments please pass those on to me at my email address, as we post them in our “Commitment Corner” for all college levels.

More to come…

October 18, 2009

No. 1 Lewis commits to UConn

Filed under: Mike Flynn — mikeflynn @ 7:30 pm

I was sitting at post Philadelphia Eagles lost to Oakland inside the Phillies Citizen’s Bank Park getting ready for Game 3 of the NLCS with the Los Angeles Dodgers and the most interesting news coming out of the West Coast was the unconfirmed rumor that Kaleena Lewis, the No. 1 2011 player on the Blue Star Report list, gave a verbal commitment to UConn over the weekend on her unofficial visit.

I left the ball park just before the start of the game to come to my car and give a quick call to Kyree, Kaleena’s father to confirm this huge announcement.  Kyree said that he was accepting my call and wanted to give me some of the details on the how’s and why’s of this big announcement and get for 2010 USA Olympic Coach Geno Auriemma. As I noted back in the spring, this UConn decision fit with some of the things that Kaleena was looking for.  It was also important for Kaleena to visit UConn while the weather was good and to talk to Geno about the 2010 recruiting class and her future teammates.

This is a huge signing for UConn as it is well known that those coaches who commit to an Olympic coaching duty let suffer their recruiting at the hands of their competition. This big signing will enable Geno and staff to focus on the key recruits left in the 2011 and 2012 class. 

Earlier in the day it was finally confirmed that BSR # 25 Jennifer O’Neill committed to Kentucky giving them their first big recruit from the East Coast. We reported this on our signing list on Friday but we pulled it back until O’Neill was on her official visit this weekend to Kentucky. We got the word last night that this was a go and official in this morning.

UPDATE — Since most of the people who usually post here can’t until I can fix the SPAM issues, I will post here and let you know that YES – as posted in my blog earlier this evening – Kaleena Mosqueda Lewis – the Blue Star Index No. 1 player for the class of 2011 has committed to UConn over the weekend.

This was something that was expect all summer after a very private and personal conversation with her father Kyree who talked to me about the important things that Kaleena was looking for.  This came as no surprise and it’s probably something that Geno wanted done so he could focus on going overseas next summer wtih the USA Women’s team instead of baby-sitting players he wants. Don’t think that Kaleena will be the only player “convinced” to decide as early as possible.

It was an interesting discussion via email with Blacktop talking about how this “announcement” and official this or unofficial that has come to be.  What you all need to know is that this was a disaster as she was “moved” or punished as some see it with a move to No. 2 on another list.  I’ve seen this kind of “switch” the year before with Kelsey Bone being “moved” moving into her senior year sliding to No. 2 after holding the spot for three years. I wrote a huge blog that is sitting on my draft box which I’ve keep from posting as it takes a deep looking into how this transpired with a lot of commentary on that disgraceful action. I wanted to wait for more info to hit before going down that posting road. It’s not personal but it was about getting personal for others.  Now Lewis was “moved” to No. 2 regardless of her great play at USAB trials last spring.  Lewis and Breanna Stewart (No. 1, 2012) were the top players at the trials. That didn’t change regardless of her “summer play” which is a secondary measuring stick when placed next to the USAB experience.

The Blacktop discussion came as we talked also about Jennifer O’Neill’s (BSR, No. 25) commitment to the University of Kentucky.  There were some top schools in the mix that wanted O’Neill’s deceptive play and top notch hustle and leadership. She may not be the “pretty athlete” but she’s a top competitor who’s a beast in a game.  This was assistant coach Matt Insell’s major signing for Coach Matthew Mitchell and a strong rebound for missing out on last year’s Shenneika Smith (St. John’s frosh) from the same summer travel program. I made the point of telling of hearing of O’Neill “commit” on Friday and posted such but pulled it know that she wanted to make it “official” when she made it to campus over the weekend.  Now that it’s official she is one of the few NYC area talents to head to the SEC in a while.

On a side note – I haven’t posted in quite a while as I’ve been very busy on a variety of subject and topic that are deep discussions of basketball it’s future.  There are only a few involved in these discussions and it’s a major reason why I have not been posting blogs.  The last one I did back in late August when I was discussing the future of basketball. Well, since that time I was able to bring together some of the top people in basketball on both sides of the gender fence and meet in Las Vegas on September 9th to create a new non-profit organization Youth Basketball 21 (YB21.ORG).  I could go into a lot of the inside moves, politics, etc. but it would be foolish to think that this is a “Mike Flynn” thing or move. Wrong!  This was a Rob Kennedy phone call from Boo William’s office last February to ask me to help do something about the NCAA and their moves to create their own iHoops (with NBA help) and eliminate the entire NCAA summer observation / opportunity process for high school athletes seeking to impress and be offered a scholarship during non-scholastic basketball time.  I spent a lot of time since then working behind the scenes to ask and gain support of the top people in youth basketball to put aside shoe company affiliations and personal competition to join in this united effort. I was a person who know the people and knew the agenda that we needed to create and to forces out there trying to pump-fake the rest of basketball about the iHoops FOR-PROFIT group.  Even USA Today got sucked into bad reporting by failing to note that critical piece of major information.

We had a fantastic and historic meeting in Vegas (as it is a cheap transit and hotel point for a lot of people) to start the process. We’re having our second meeting on November 21 again in Las Vegas and expect regional meeting next spring across the country.  Go to YB21.ORG for more info. This new organization is under development but we’ll be guided by our Ten Commandments of YB21. We will be pro-active and want to work with the NCAA in the process of developing YB21’s certification programs (coaching and event).  I could write for hours about the back room and hypothetical talk as to what is coming next. Most people expect the youth basketball community to just nod and accept the NCAA”s “plans” from their own college coaches without any communication with our community.  This is a major reason why we were created – to have a voice. 

More in the coming weeks about YB21 and even with this there are even move levels of conversation and critical thinking being done about the future of basketball on a national and global level.  The game is changing and will continue to change.  Stay tuned.

October 17, 2009

The Future of Youth Basketball

Filed under: Kevin Lynch — Kevin Lynch @ 3:54 pm

Youth Basketball stakeholders have taken a look into the future of what they consider their sport, and have faced the realization that drastic change is needed. The list below is a diverse group of influential individuals who have pledged to support YB21 and or attended the inaugural meeting in Las Vegas on September 21st.2009. There are many more, as the membership is all-inclusive. This is the first time both the grassroots boys and girls event operators, club directors, and coaches have formed a group to address the issues facing youth basketball. I was fortunate enough to attend the Vegas meeting, and the spirit of cooperation and determination to succeed was impressive. Make no mistake about this, YB21 was formed to combat the formation of ihoops, and their for profit company. They have the money, big money.YB21 has the people. The two keys points that I came out of this meeting were number one, skill development for players, and number two that the ihoops staff has almost no experience in youth athletics. They look to be a group of finance,marketing and sales executives. One of the most influential of the attendees was Boo Williams. Mr. Williams is a club coach, director, event operator for both boys and girls and is also AAU Boys National Chairman. He preached what the NBA and NCAA, and USAB were looking for-skill development. A clear plan to address this issue of concern for the professional and collegian administrators and coaches for this group will be paramount in the success of this venture. Gary Charles the president of the influential Grassroots Basketball of America (GBOA), has already met with the ihoops folks, and is now a full supporter of YB21. Ihoops has put together an impressive list of executive types who know how to make money. But, shouldn’t the current stakeholders be given the same chance to clean up the sport they have been involved in for many years. Years ago summer camps were the big thing during evaluation periods, players would spend the week at a college campus, do skill work, be broken up into random teams, play few games and work on learning proper techniques. The college coaches decided they wanted more games, they wanted to see the kids in a more competitive environment, playing the position they will in college, thus the current system of games, games and more games evolved. The event operators, club coaches and yes the AAU gave them what they wanted. Why not give them the chance to evolve again? It is my experience that most of the folks involved in youth basketball are caring adults who got involved for the right reasons. Sure there are few bad seeds, get rid of them! Get involved. Help clean up the issues in the sport. Let the game be administered by people who have given their time , not Johnny come lately corporate America!
Attend the next meeting in Las Vegas Nov.21st. Visit the web site for YB21. Decide for yourself.
“If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem”

Brian Alexander USAEV
Gary Charles GBOA
Brandon Clay Peach State Basketball
Al Coleman CyFair
Jerald Davis Chicago Express
Russ Davis CA Swish
Charles Domino Dominos
Joe Erskine Mo Valley Eclipse
Mike Flynn Philadelphia Belles
Hope Fuery USJN
Anthony Grant DFW
Jim Hart Albany City Rocks
Charles Huddleston GA Metros
Tom Insell TN Flight
Marques Jackson DFW
Tom Jenkins OGBR
Winston Kelly Gameball Magazine
Rob Kennedy HoopGroup
Steve Kozaki National Basketball
Bill Larson North Tartan
Kara Leahy NE Crusaders
Mark Lewis ESPN
Kevin Lynch Blue Star
Antony Manor Star Vision Sports
Ray Mayes FBC
Aggie McCormick Fairfax Stars
Brett McCormick ASGR
Bill McDonough Blue Chip
Chris Mennig USJN
James Nichols Team Unique
Keith Noll Wisconsin
Dan Olson CGBR
Robert Paschall Exodus
Kelvin Powell Essence
Dana Pump Double Pump
David Pump Double Pump
Stan Quash AAU Boys
Kristy Sampson AAU Girls
Jerry Simmons PBR
Joey Simmons PBR
Brad Smith EOT
Anthony Toney Premier Basketball
Jim Underwood KY Blue Chip
Sonny Vaccaro ABCD
Mike White ASGR
Matt Willaims Jam On It
Boo Williams AAU / BWSL