November 9, 2011

Class of 2012 – College Rankings….

Filed under: Chris Mennig,Kevin Lynch,Mike Flynn — Kevin Lynch @ 12:37 pm

As in years past we are using our breakdown to produce our college class rankings. Continue to check this link as we will be updating as these are through May 20, 2012 (Amber Cooper, LA – Boston College, & Missouri & Maine’s Monster Recruiting Classes)

1. Connecticut
2. Texas AM
3. North Carolina
4. Baylor
5. West Virginia
6. Georgia Tech
7. Tennessee
8. Georgia
9. Notre Dame
10. Rutgers
11. Syracuse
12. Duke
13. Maryland
14. South Carolina
15. Florida
16. Clemson
17. UCLA
18. Georgetown
19. Purdue
20. Louisiana State
21. Texas
22. Miami
23. Vanderbilt
24. USC
25. Louisville
26. Northwestern
27. Stanford
28. Auburn
29. Washington
30. Virginia
31. Arizona
32. Michigan
33. Memphis
34. Boston College
35. Kansas State
36. Maine
37. Missouri
38. Michigan State
39. Seton Hall
40. Ohio State
41. St. John’s
42. Oklahoma
43. Iowa State
44. Arizona State
45. Wake Forest
46. Colorado
47. South Florida
48. Marquette
49. Dayton
50. Penn State

Honorable Mention: Cincinnati, Iowa, Kentucky,  Minnesota,?  Oregon State, Providence, Houston, North Carolina State, Texas Tech, Villanova, Xavier

September 3, 2011

Brittany Sykes sets top 5

Filed under: Mike Flynn — Kevin Lynch @ 11:06 am

Brittany Sykes a top 30 2012 guard from Newark NJ, has narrowed her choices to 5. Duke,Georgetown, Penn State, Syracuse and Virginia(Alpha Order)

August 3, 2011

Brittany Sykes sets top ten list.

Filed under: Kevin Lynch,Mike Flynn — Kevin Lynch @ 7:12 pm

Brittany Sykes, the ultra athletic guard from University High School and the Philadelphia Belles club team has narrowed her college choices to ten. She will cut this list and set her 5 visits by September 1st.
DePaul
Duke
Georgetown
Kentucky
Miami
Penn State
Rutgers
Seton Hall
Syracuse
Virginia

July 29, 2011

Getting To Gold

Filed under: Mike Flynn — mikeflynn @ 4:27 pm

Down here in Augusta, GA where the Nike Nationals are taking place, it’s day two of competition before this weekend’s playoffs. A number of college coaches have either exited or showed up here in hot and muggy Augusta after an appearance in the very scenic and chilly Puerto Montt, Chile, host of the FIBA u19 Women’s World Championships where its medal round-day and a loss is an exit from the tournament.

Two days ago the shock of the summer was the unexpected and surprising USA loss to neighboring Canada, 64-52. It was so stunning that the FIBA website charting the game when blank with :26 left in the game. Even the USA Basketball web site was down for a while as fans around North America wanted to know if this was true or not.

This wasn’t a last second loss, but a game-long losing effort for the Americans. The USA was outplayed in the first quarter, trailing 20-9 after the first 10 minutes, and then six at halftime 29-23. The USA made their run in the third quarter, closing to 41-39 by the end of the quarter but couldn’t make it up in the fourth quarter, for their first win at this age-level competition in seven tries. You could tell the USA might have problems as they advanced later in this World Championship as they struggled against a very big, strong and determined China team, 80-77. What made that day even more shocking was the 75-47 loss by favored Australia to a very athletic and spirited Brazil team later in the evening. The Aussies couldn’t handle the up-tempo efforts and inside scoring of 6-4 center Damaris Dantas, who could be the best player there in Puerto Montt.

After yesterday’s day of rest, the big game tonight featured a very athletic and well-playing France facing the USA team hoping to get back on track in this medal-round game and also hoping not to get upset again as their earlier foe Canada dropped out of gold medal contention with a 69-55 loss to a balanced Spain squad to start today’s action. Unfortunately, this is exactly what almost happened as the USA pulled out a roller-coaster, 70-64, last minute, two second win against France to advance to the semifinals against Brazil which held on to 73-71 back and forth battle with Russia in the night game.

If the USA is to advance to past tomorrow’s semi-finals it will be necessary to find some chemistry with this crew. People have told me from the start of the event to yesterday’s break, the USA team as been playing down hill. Opponents have use a lot of zone to take away the USA bigs and force them into a half-court offensive battle where they haven’t been able to hit shots. Against Canada the USA struggled inside with no forward or post getting double digit points. Against China, the USA blew a 12-point third quarter lead and let the Chinese tie them until they pulled away in the final minutes. Looking at the play-by-play of these games shows a lot of substitution and with a desire by head coach Jen Rizzotti to find her top eight players. While necessary to get this done now with all games being for gold, its difficult when each of the remaining teams (Australia, Spain, Brazil, Russia) offering a different look and roster to compete against. Australia, which has the biggest roster here in the medal round, is susceptible to upset again by balanced and seasoned rosters from Spain.

Last night was another game of find the right combo. The USA started off slow again, trailing France by four with 6:49 in the first when mass substitution by Rizzotti enabled the French to jump out even more, 23-11 by the end of the quarter. It was at this point when 6-4 high school rising-senior Breanna Stewart went to work pushing the USA back into the game with second quarter burst of points and rebounds to catch the French, 30-25, by halftime. The USA finally tied the game at 7:46, 33-33 left in the 3rd quarter. More subs and the lead see-sawed back and forth over the rest of the quarter into the final period when a Stewart-led charge pushed the USA out front 62-51 by the 6:04 mark. As with the China game, the USA lost this lead in the final stanza to the French who tied the game 64-64 with 2:22 left. Twenty seconds later, more subs and two foul shots by Stewart gave the USA it’s critical lead, 66-64 to hold onto the victory. It may not have been pretty, but the USA is in the u19 FIBA semifinals, two games away from gold.

July 23, 2011

Ruminating in San Paulo

Filed under: Mike Flynn — mikeflynn @ 7:52 pm

Next to watching all the teams and evaluating the talent on a global scale to determine the development of girl’s basketball around the world and watching the USA team is seeing how France, Australia and Russia grow their games.

Today was a rare chance to have a very good look at the status of female basketball, and potentially, the future competition for the USA on a global scale. This opportunity was a battle between France and Australia, which the Aussies surprisingly and easily won 67-45. The other great game of the day was Russia vs. Japan. All of these games in one way of another portend the future of their older teams.

The Australians have over the last decade given the USA a tough time. The only other program that can make this same claim is Russia. Both programs are now headed in different directions. While you weren’t looking, the FIBA Europe Zone championship was won by Turkey while traditional powers France and Spain didn’t qualify. You have to come in 3rd to 5th to play in next year’s Olympic Qualifier at a site which is TBA. The enormity of this is big as these are the teams you’ll see on TV next August in London. Right now it’s expected for Australia to win the FIBA Oceanic and either China or Japan to win FIBA Asia. Brazil and Canada will duke it out for FIBA Americas. The other five spots after the host Great Britain and winner USA will be determined in the special tournament next year prior to the London Games.

With the USA Olympic team already a done deal and moving forward, the beauty of coming here is to see who could be the rising stars of the future and who could make that the USA team for Rio in 2016. There are a few college players and some young WNBA players who will have to wait for this last generation of players to move on before they can grab this honor in Rio. For the other nations here, this is also a chance to see where those programs will be in 2016.

When watching the Australian team in Brazil in 2002, you could tell this was a great generation of players for them. The problem for them was their lack of additional height to support superstar Lauren Jackson on the wings and forward positions. Their best asset after Jackson was their guards and big wings. Fortunately, for the USA, that wasn’t enough to beat them in Athens nor Beijing. The worry for such a small country which won silver the last three Olympic Games, would be where to get the next Jackson, let alone more height. After London, the majority of this current group is in their late 20’s and will push past 30 by Rio. Well, that was quickly and shockingly put aside last summer when the Aussie brought their 17u team to the FIBA Championships in France last summer. This was a team so big it dwarfed the USA squad and all teams in France except possibly China. They had nine girls 6-0 and over, including 2 6-6’s and a 6-4, all players who got court time. The only question was if their guard play was up to the size of their team. They have seven players from their 17u team at this 19u event. The changes were in the guard line adding 5-10 Rebecca Cole and 5-8 Kerryn Harrington along with 6-1 Rebecca Allen. When watching this team against host Chile, they struggled to hit shots, especially 6-4 small forward Gretel Tippett. This group lacks a guard with dominate skills and a big wing scorer which 6-3 Sara Blicavs is working to fill, to challenge the USA here at this age level. It will take a few years to get the right pieces together but if they find the right guard line to go with the big, the USA will be serious competition in Rio.

France and the USA made it to the 17u Championships which the USA won last year in France. If there were any national program that could mimic the USA for athletic talent, skilled players and passion for the game, it was France with its combination of abilities from their home country and former colonies. The French have made inroads in women’s basketball by running a national team program that gets the best young players into their own Basketball Academy system (Centre de Formation, LFB) very similar to the very successful Australian model (Australian Institute of Sports – AIS). Seeing the drumming that Australia gave France today, 67-45, it’s clear that France has the horses but not the chemistry. The French still haven’t put together a system where players have to be stars early as we do here in the USA under some major criticism. France has talent galore on all spots on the floor across all ages but a clear lack of a killer instinct at the youth level. The problem now is that France can’t retain all its players in their adult leagues and relegate their best young players to years on the bench awaiting their turn to play in an basketball economy where salaries are decreasing, hence, a desire for a lot of college-age female French players to come to the USA to play college ball. Most of these players will be mid-level and below as the best are still getting major Euros contracts by teams afraid to lose a future star. This system will ensure that the French always have a wonderful looking team but failing to be beast enough to top the other female basketball powers.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case with Russia until the last few years. The Russians, after the USA, had the talent, killer competitive instinct and training to challenge the USA. London will be no exception as Russia won the European Qualifier for the Olympics over a surprise Turkey. When reports of Nigeria beating Russia in the famous Reze International tournament, it was apparent a change was coming. With the end of the cold war, most of those former coaches who filled the Soviet pipeline of players now worked on their own for clubs trying to get by unless they were “super-funded” by interested parties. With these people now retiring or quitting their grassroots work, the system isn’t producing talent. Some blame the influx of American stars who will be on the USA Team roster in London for this problem. When the Americans took playing spots from Russians, they didn’t play. Every one will sign and take and either play or bench a big girl but not a guard, too much time to develop them when you have Sue Bird, Diana Taurassi and Becky Hammond ready to go. The team that showed up here in Puerto Montt was half of what a former team would look like. There were almost no size and no big guards which was a traditional Russian team composition. Today’s loss to Japan, 90-64 doesn’t help. The boys get a reprieve as they upset the USA team at the 19u Men’s in Latvia earlier this month, the women don’t. Once this great generation of Russian players departs after London, look for a battle to fill their spot in basketball’s elite. The staff said their 1993 group was a great one, I saw the team at the u17s in Rodez last year and their 3-on-3 team in Singapore and I don’t see a vibrant pipeline of talent.

When looking at all of the above, USA Basketball on the women’s side will continue to dominate well into the next two Olympic cycles of 2016 and 2020. Next year right after the London Games the next edition of the u17 FIBA World Championships take place in the Netherlands in mid-August. And, the word is that the host team could be the biggest competitor for the USA’s present crop of elite 15s-16s next year. Now all we have to do is fix all the issues here with youth basketball in America. Ah, but that’s even a longer story.

A Brighter, Second Day

Filed under: Mike Flynn — mikeflynn @ 11:32 am

Surprisingly, the second and final day of my time here in Puerto Montt at the FIBA u19 Women’s World Championships started without rain and fog outside my hotel window facing the harbor. The sun was trying to fight through the winter gray skies but just couldn’t make it as I got out of my taxi and walked into the Puerto Montt Arena.

Inside awaiting me as a surprising halftime score of Italy 32, China 30. With all the inside height of China possessed you would expect an easy win. Not today again. As with yesterday loss against Canada, the Italians utilized a smaller, guard oriented lineup to press and thwart China into 12 first half turnovers. Where the Canadians blew China out, the smaller and less athletic Italians were able to use defense and Chinese lack of a leader on the floor to keep even. Missing 19 free throws in the first half didn’t help China either. Italy was able to outscore them in the second half 38-34 for an ecstatic Italian win, 70-64. This gave a stunned China an unexpected 0-2 record to start the event and elimination in Group A. This sets up tomorrow’s big game of Canada vs. Italy. Expect a Canadian win unless they let Italy be physical to cut down on Canada’s speed and shooting.

Traditionally, today’s game of the USA vs. Russia would have been a battle. Today, it was a semi-whimper. The USA, as expected, was the clear favorite to win this Group B contest and started off scoring first. Six minutes later it was 6-6. At this point Head Coach Jen Rizzotti from Hartford put in a lineup of Breanna Stewart, Elizabeth Williams, Kaleena Lewis, Bria Hartley and Diamond DeShields. With this new lineup in the last 3:56 the USA blew open the game for good with a 17-7 first quarter lead. Ariel Massengale came in the second quarter and hit key shots to extend the lead even more. By halftime, 40-19, it was over except the final score.

“I want them to dictate what other people have to run and I thought they did a much better job today of dictating what Russia did rather than reacting to what Japan did yesterday,” said Rizzotti. “We’re trying to find our identity and our rotation and there’s so many good player and so little separation between one through twelve on this team and it’s really hard to know who to start some day’s and who to bring off the bench first.”

As this was the USA’s second game here in Puerto Montt, you could see how the USA coaching staff was feeling its way around with their starters and substitution patterns. In yesterday game neither Williams nor Stewart, the USA’s most effective tandem inside and on defense, did not start, nor today. When the USA needed to extend the defense or pressure the game this duo was the catalyst for most of the USA’s game-busting scoring runs. The new addition of the youthful DeShields to the mix upped the USA’s athletic pressure giving them a big guard to defend the big Russian guards.

“Kaleen was really ready to go today and Breanna’s been really competitive and phenomenal so I just knew bringing them off the bench would allow us to put some more pressure on their defense but at the same time keep our guys fresh so they can keep up that defensive intensity.”

“Diamond is kind of like that X factor,” continued Rizzotti about the 6-1 sophomore guard who is one of the youngest players her in this 1992 age-dominated tournament. “When she’s is ready and she is on and focused on the defensive end, she can be great for us. It’s just a matter of us getting her to mature to that level where she can keep that consistent effort. I try to get her in there for two to three minute bursts. I thought had a really good game today.”

It is becoming apparent the top 6-8 effective players on this very young USA team which has a great portion of their team from last year’s u17 FIBA Championships in Rodez, France last summer. Overall these teams here in Puerto Montt to not have the firepower or awe of the teams what were in France last summer.

The rest of the day’s competitions has Japan easily defeating Argentina in the other Group B pool game 90-71 after the Japanese dominated the second quarter 20-3. Canada didn’t wait that long, going for a 28-5 first quarter blowout of Egypt, 99-54, in the other Group A game in Puerto Varas.

One of the fun games at this event as host Chile, short and spunky compared to the vaunted and massive Australia team. It was supposed to be a blowout on the scale of the Canada-Egypt game but it wasn’t. Even though it was 23-14 after the first quarter, Chile didn’t role over. They kept hitting three’s while the Aussies played everyone and didn’t play very well inside, as expected, or out. It was only on a opening four possession to start the third quarter that you could see them run their patterns. This sets up one of the best games here in Puerto Montt tomorrow with France facing Australia for the Pool C Championship. The late game in Puerto Varas, Chinese Taipei vs. Spain was to tell everyone if Taipei was a serious competitor or rather they faced a weaker Slovenia team yesterday which has Brazil tonight here in Puerto Montt. It was back and forth until the third period when Spain’s experience crusted them 30-11. Slovenia also put up a good fight for a 19-17 first quarter deficit but Brazil’s athleticism ran them down 67-50.

As noted, the big game is Australia vs. France. Expect one of these teams, including Brazil to challenge the USA for this championship. About 8 US college coaches showed up also on the first day of competition they were allowed to view. Last year they could attend any World Championship, like France in 2010 and there are at least 20-30 coaches there. This time, falling on top of the observation period, the NCAA decided to quietly change the rule again. I guess those who didn’t go last year weren’t happy and got it changed to spite those who did.

I head to DC on Saturday – an all-day travel affair with stops in Santiago, Chile and San Paulo, Brazil in route to a very comfortable and warm DC. I got all the reports of the heat and temperatures. It will be absolute fun go from 40f to 105f in the course of 24 hrs.

July 22, 2011

Going International, Again

Filed under: Mike Flynn — mikeflynn @ 2:00 am

The last time I saw members of the USA 19u team it was in May in Colorado Springs and that was Diamond DeShields who was waiting for a flight after the tryouts and team selections. Yesterday, I got to see the entire squad, including all the usual high school suspects from the FIBA 17s in Rodez, France last year standing at attention while the USA National Anthem was being played at the Puerto Montt Arena, host for the FIBA 19u Women’s World Championships.

Last June it was beautiful, balmy countryside of Rodez and Toulouse France. This July it’s way south of the border and the equator here in Puerto Montt, about hour and a half flight from Santiago. Depending on how you got it expect a 8-10 hour flight south. The creepy part of being this far away from the USA is that you’re still in the same time zone. Calls usually overseas come at strange hours. Here in Chile, we’re on the same time zone as DC and the East Coast.

The other aspect of this trip is that is now winter here in Chile. Packing for a six-day trip, with four of them traveling by plane, was crazy considering the 100-degree blast furnace up north on the East Coast. Getting here is at least two plane stops, I decided on Buenos Aires to Santiago to Puerto Montt as my entry. It was nice to see the sun in Santiago which was surrounded by the snow-capped Andes. Customs was a brutal ordeal waiting in a long line no matter what after paying a instant visa at the border for $140. The next flight was headed south again for Puerto Montt which is considered a awesome summer time place. But, now its winter and the outlook for my time here was clouds, rain and cold. I told everyone it’s like visiting friends in Normandy France in November or February. One of the people at the event, Nelson Isley who’s been in SA for a while, said you won’t see the sun for a while. All I could think of was the Pacific Northwest.

The weather may have been bad but the accommodations were fantastic as the modern and sharply appointed Holiday Inn sits 11-stories above a shopping mall, Bigger supermarket and movie complex. The food court here features all the usual fast food items but with a local twist as their versions of hot dogs and hamburgers come layered with guacamole. Except for everything in Spanish, you were almost home.
The venues for this event are Puerto Montt Arena and the Puerto Varas gymnasium about 30-minutes away by car, taxi or mini-bus. Since the Nigerian team canceled at the last minute the local committee switched a few games from Varas over to Montt. They moved the opening round forfeit games to the start and gave teams here a later start time.

The curious thing about coming to the 19u World Championships was the ability to see who made the cut up to their older national teams from last year’s 17u championships and the Youth Olympic Games 3 on 3 event in Singapore. Being the only American person outside of USAB staff and parents following these events last summer, it was neat to see how the rosters and teams would fare.

The first game was a shocker as a very strong China team in France last year looked stunned as Canada shot the lights out and routed China from the start for a 76-49 victory. The Chinese had no answer for the Canadian half-court zone press and the quickness of Nirra Fields, the 5-9 lead guard who’s going to jump Oak Hill Academy, VA to Mater Dei in Santa Ana, CA and team up with USA’s Jordan Adams for her senior high school year. Fields slid by the Chinese for 22 points and 9 rebounds. This was absolutely the upset of the day and it was the first game.

The USA team bounced into the gym for the second game vs. Japan. Looking at the experience and height differential it was considered to be an easy win for the USA. Head Coach Jen Rizzotti from Hartford, with her USA team comprised of six returning high school players. started a lineup that was part get people playing time and also to see who worked well with whom. The rotations were all over the page and during some stretches the USA team would jump out to a big lead and then the Japanese would fire back with hard play and some three pointers. The USA had a commanding halftime lead of 48-31 lead which the Japanese closed in the 3rd quarter to single digits on five three-pointers. Some quick subs and running by the USA punched the lead quickly by the end of the stanza to 64-51 but still outscored the USA team by four points for the period.

The height and inside dominance by Breanna Stewart, Malina Howard, Stefanie Dolson, Elizabeth Williams and Morgan Tuck produced 52 points inside for the USA.

“Japan played very fast and that was something we had to adjust to,” said 6-3 rising senior Breanna Stewart. “We definitely has a height advantage and we were able to go inside on them.”

On a lighter note, Stewart who hails from a wintry Syracuse was not put off by the weather here in Puerto Montt, Chile after USA competitions over the past two years in Mexico City and Rodez, France. “It’s great, it’s different but you get use to it. We’re enjoying our time here. It’s a great opportunity to represent your country.”

As for today’s contest against a weak Russia team, Stewart commented, “If we focus on defense and do our best there it should be a good outcome.”

Russia was expected to beat a weaker squad from Argentina and jumped out to an easy half-time lead of 37-17 only to see it disappear by the end of the third quarter 46-40. The Russians, who lost in Reze, France three weeks ago to the disjointed Nigerian team which missed this event, got serious enough in the final quarter to coast in for the win. Looking over the Russian roster it was missing at least three players as each team can carry 12 players. Russia had nine dress for the game. The traditional boxing match between the USA and Russia is not expect here at this event or in the future as most observers now sense the decline of women’s basketball in Russia some say to too many American playing there. Unlike the USA 19u Men’s team which was upset by Russia in Latvia earlier this month, the women should prevail again.

The rest of the day consisted of four more games, one in Puerto Varas between a very young Slovenia team and a surprising Chinese Taipei team which won 83-73 The other game in Puerto Varas was an expected 74-56 win by Italy over Egypt. Those games running at the same times as those in Montt were not worth seeing.

The next game in Puerto Montt featured the spunky host Chile team which was handled easily by a very talented French team 59-36. The final game of the evening was the best game of the day as Brazil outlasted a talented Spain team 71-64. While Spain has a very talented group of players there was no one dominate start able to go get points when needed. The Brazil team just a tad more athletic was able to bang some threes in the second half to keep their double digit lead for most of the game. Every time Spain closed, Brazil would get a layup or outside shot to hold them off.

Looking over the competition after the first day it’s easy to assume the USA will win this event and come home with the gold as no team has a much depth or talent who can score points. This was the difference in France last year as the USA team was the only group that had individuals who could go score points which is not the style of most of these global teams. With the USA being one of the youngest teams here with a lot of 1993’s and 1994’s facing a lot of 1992’s on other rosters, it’s quick to note how good we really are.

The teams that the USA will face in the coming days that could give them competition could be a huge Australia team which is bringing all their height from last years’ team in France. This is the biggest squad at the event and biggest group of Aussies I’ve ever seen in age-level. The crazy thing is that Australia was traditionally guard and big wing smart and lacking depth inside after the superstar Lauren Jackson. Now with at least five girls tipping that size chart the future looks bright for Australia to challenge the USA by the team all these players reach Rio in 2016. All they need is a few big lead guards and a bonafide create their shot scorer to wreak havoc on the USA.

After Australia, the Brazil, and France have the physical talent to challenge while Spain and China could be sticky opponents if they hit their shots and the USA gets lazy on defense. Talent wise the only competitors are physically Australia, Brazil and France and basketball wise Spain.

I have one more day to watch but with today contests fully observed it will be follow-up on talent evaluation. During a break in today’s game schedule I came back to my hotel and sat with a bevy of college coaches who just jetted into town to keep tabs on the USA Team players who they are recruiting and to also look at some of the younger talent on Slovenia and France. You can’t get players from China and those interesting Italian, Spanish, Brazilian, French and Russian players are college age and normally pros sitting on their home pro team benches.

Tomorrow starts the second half of the NCAA observation period. I will be here for that first day, missing the opening of the 2011 edition of the Nike/USJN 17u National Championships in Washington, DC with its biggest field ever with 240 teams. I will miss those first two days of pool play but get back in time on Sunday morning to watch the playoffs that evening.

It was great to see the college coaches who up as I was missing my compadre, Chris Hansen who covered the event in France last year for ESPN. Chris and ESPN are MIA this year but hopefully he’ll be back for the 2012 FIBA 17u World Championships next year in the Netherlands right after the London Olympics.

And yes, I will be there for both of those events.

July 11, 2011

USJN LAS VEGAS -BLUE STAR NATIONALS

Filed under: Mike Flynn — Kevin Lynch @ 6:25 pm

BLUE STAR NATIONALS ALL-TOURNAMENT 2011

Simone Westbrook-GSB
Mikayla Cowling-EBX
Hannah Huffman-EBX
Jillian Alleyne-FBC
Napheesa Collier-MO Phenoms
Chayla Cheadle-MO-Phenoms
Kindred Wesemann-MOKAN-Eclipse
Sydney Wiese-GSB
Alex Wheatley-Philly Belles
Sierra Moore-Philly Belles
Raeshaun Gaffney-Ohio Sports City
Rachel Theriott-Ohio Sports City
Malina Howard-Ohio Sports City-MVP

June 27, 2011

2011 USJN Hershey Showcase

Filed under: Mike Flynn — Kevin Lynch @ 1:46 pm

`The USJN Hershey Showcase has established itself as a mu 75 st stop for girls travel teams. Established in 2001 this event has grown from it’s initial 22 teams to almost 200 teams from 12 states. The Hershey Visitors Bureau has been very accommodating to the thousands of families who make the trek to this historic Central Pennsylvania town. Hershey Park, Hershey chocolate factory and the Hershey Zoo all provide discounts to the parcipitants and their families. The teams are guaranteed 5 games, plus playoffs if you make it out of pool. The venues include the Pennsylvania Faem Show and Expo Center when 12 courts are laid down in a huge area, with room for expansion.

June 1, 2011

The USAB 16u Team and Ours

Filed under: Mike Flynn — mikeflynn @ 1:44 am

COLORAO SPRINGS – I started off the last day, Sunday, of the trials skipping the morning and afternoon sessions to take a ride up to Castle Rock and do some outlet mall shopping with Kevin Lynch. He drove over for the morning session and came back to check out of the hotel and decided to ride with me. We skipped the sessions as there was not much left to do in the way of evaluation or watching as the Selection Committee was going to pick who they wanted regardless. As noted earlier, this was about what they saw and what we observed. In the end, they did the picking right or wrong.

Last year on my trip to the Springs for the USAB 17u trials, the Media group in attendance make their predictions. I got the most player correct as I selected what they would do. I would not have picked the team they picked but picked what you do. I agreed on about 80% of their 17u Team picks but only 25% of the Youth Olympic Games 3-on-3 team they sent to Singapore. In the end, they won Bronze despite having a 14-7 lead on Australia in the semifinals. In that case, we did not send our best. This time it would be harder to pre-pick this team as this was the first time these players were trying out. Right off there are no superstars here, not slam dunk players like a Breanna Stewart (2012) or Diamond DeShields (2013) who make the 19u roster this year. There were no super scorers or dominate inside players, outside threats or awesome guards. There were a lot of great players looking to find their spot.

When Kevin and I came back to the Olympic center for the evening session we looked on the door for the cuts made at 12:45pm. The group was cut down to 34 players, 13 2014’s and 21 2013’s, with five of those invited cut. The biggest surprise was the cut of two of the best guard I saw at the event, 142 Kelsey Mitchell, OH and 154 Jessica Washington, OK., with Mitchell’s exit stunning everyone. I leaned from Mark Lewis that Mitchell wore her reverse jersey backwards, was not told or notified of this and played in this manner until near the end. Afterwards, she was cut without explanation leaving all of us to assume this was her deciding factor as her play was high energy, hard and spot on. Washington was a surprise as she is one of the smoothest guards in this class.

The evening session started out with two groups. It was pretty clear to all sitting there that the Committee spit the final six games into the two groups, 16 comprising of those who we felt were keepers and Group 2 with 17 players all on the bubble. At the end of play, the best from Group 2 was LaJahana Drummer, CA. From Group 1 it was clearly who was going to make the cut from 16 down to 12. Looking at what the Committee had on the floor to what I selected, I had 8 (181 Davis, 133 Harper, 273 White, 219 Tucker, 269 Russell / 203 Mavunge, 267 Reimer, 122 Caldwell) of the team picked from first night drills and had the other four (177 Canada, 191 Greenwell, 204 McCall, 222 Umani) on my secondary list. Those five cut from the 16 were 198 Jackson, 190 Green, 274 Whitted, 116 Allen, 186 Engram. When the team rosters was released on Monday morning it was shocking again to find that 190 Gabrielle Green was cut as she was clearly the best athlete here. You’ll find a lot of commentary on this one from others in attendance. After three days of workouts it was easy to see who the top players were. Some with higher profiles didn’t make it, some with lower ones did. Some players stepped up as the event unraveled while others couldn’t find their spot. They selected nine 2013’s and three 2014’s. (Caldwell, Canada, White).

GUARDS: (3) 133 Harper, 177 Canada, 122 Caldwell
WINGS: (3) 219 Tucker, 181 Davis, 191 Greenwell
BIGS: (6) 267 Reimer, 203 Mavunge, 204 McCall, 222 Umani, 273 White, 269 Russell

TAKEAWAYS: This is a very good team for now and for the future. The bulk of the players selected should come back next year and make the USAB 17u team. The guard line will be fine with Harper and Canada in the backcourt. Look for Mitchell to come back and challenge hard for a spot next year. Caldwell was a surprise but she outlasted people because of her steady play and scoring ability to show she’s one of the best guards in 2014 class with Canada. The Wings here are the best in Tucker, Davis and Greenwell. The bigs were an interesting selection with Russell (6-5) and White (6-3) being locks. Reimer might have been the most consistent forward here. McCall, Mavunga and Umani battled it out with the likes of 261 Cooper, 260 Coates, 198 Jackson, 183 Drummer and 212 Turner. In the end, McCall and Mavunga took spots from Jackson, Turner and Drummer. I would have given 190 Green the spot occupied by 222 Umani as she is a better athlete and future star at this age level. The two selected guards being 2014s will be contested again next year by the 2013s who got cut. This will be a very big forward team with Harper, Tucker, Davis, Reimer and Russell being the go-to players when this team comes back next week to practice for the trip to Mexico City in mid-June. Look for another gold-medal performance from these young ladies. Unlike the USAB 19u team with six high school players, we’ll get to see them this summer. Enjoy it as for most of them; this will be their last summer of non-scholastic basketball with their travel team friends.

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