The first Cavalier win!

The 2016 Cavaliers are my Upward Basketball team for the season. It’s been a rough stretch for my guys.  We’ve struggled with rebounding problems, turnovers, and incredible defensive lapses.  And then there’s the plain old bad luck.  But over the past two weeks, the season has turned around.

Much of the turnaround can be attributed to the improved play of Micah McArthur.  Micah is probably our most talented player, so when I talk about “improvement,” I’m really talking about his efficiency and his defense.  Micah has really bought into the scheme of getting all of the players involved, and this has turned him into a devastatingly efficient player.  He was always solid, but now, it’s stunningly efficient.

The play of Micah is the biggest factor in getting a second player going, and that player is Taysir Yalaoui.  Now, everyone should realize that Taysir is my best friend’s son, and he’s the reason I’m coaching in Boys 1st/2nd.  Taysir is a kindergartner, and this is his first step into actual organized basketball.  Up until the past two weeks, Taysir had taken only one shot.  Now, for those of you who know Taysir, you know that the one thing he can do in basketball is shoot.  Well, thanks to Micah getting him going, Taysir scored four points on 6 shots last week.  With him getting to shoot, he’s now more involved, and is playing much better defense, getting some steals and recoveries.  Well, this week, Taysir scored four points again, this time on three shots.  Two of those points came on a steal and breakaway lay-up in the final period;  those two points tied the game.

It’s a big change coaching in Boys 1st/2nd from the older leagues.  I tend to talk as if the guys all understand the language of basketball, which, of course, they don’t.  Plus, we’re not good offensively at the things I most want to do – which is implement player and ball movement and a passing game.  It has definitely been a stretch outside of my comfort zone.  However, as we’ve gotten better at doing some of the things, our results have looked better and better on the court.  The last two games have definitely been the high point of our season so far.  And, as is typical of my teams, it was the back end of the bench that won us this last game.

The Upward leadership is starting to plan for next season, and there may be more news coming in that regard. I’ll probably talk more about that in my next entry.

Upward Basketball getting started

Upward Basketball season at Memorial Baptist church kicked off the past week. For those of you who are unaware, the Greyhounds were started out of an Upward team in 2007 – the 2007 Knicks – that wanted to stay together and keep playing for a bit longer, and that’s where we find most of our new players each year.

It was great seeing members of my Greyhound teams and their parents. In addition to the Greyhounds who are playing in the league – Kolin Easterling, Asa Holcomb, Lemuel Miner, Connor Parrish, and Brendan Royer – I got to see Tosin Ogungbade, and Jonathan Fajen‘s father. Oh, but there’s more: former Greyhound Grant Colwell is coaching in the league, and current Greyhound coaches and former Greyhound players Sam Clubb and Mason Chandler are coaching in the league. Former Greyhound coach Jamie Diggs (father of former Greyhound Lucas Diggs) is there, too. And parents of Greyhounds as well – Paul Rhoades, who is former Greyhound Marcus Burgett‘s step-dad is coaching, and Greyhound Connor Parrish‘s father, Alan Parrish, is coaching him. And I spend a good deal of time talking to former Greyhound coach, and in my opinion, the finest coach in Upward (although he’s not coaching this year), Jared Royer (father of Greyhounds Andrew Royer, Addison Royer, and Brendan Royer).

I was asked about the Greyhounds by a parent that I didn’t know. She wanted to know about the Greyhounds after hearing about it from Grant Colwell, and Marcus Burgett’s brother, Cooper Rhoades, expressed interest as well. And Mason and Sam are watching Boys 5-6 very closely, because there are a few players that I know that I want from that league.

I was also pleased to see my old players from my 2014 Tarheels and my 2015 Bruins. All of my old guys put up really great numbers this year in the evaluations, and I’m very proud of them all for that. Those players include Lindale Baker of the 2014 Tarheels, Jeremy Anderson, Cullen Snow, Max Sachs, Justin Slade, Ryan Slade, and C.J. McGuire of the 2015 Bruins, and Asa Holcomb, who played for both teams.

This year, against all conventional wisdom and perhaps all sanity, I’m coaching in Boys 1st/2nd grade. I got to meet my team this week, and was very pleased with my first practice. We worked on learning some basic rules of basketball – specifically travelling and double-dribble. We also worked on shooting lay-ups and dribbling. We spent a lot of time getting to know each other. Our team name this year is the Cavaliers. The only player I knew coming in was Taysir Yalaoui, who is the son of my friends Skander Yalaoui and Shannyn Yalaoui, and he’s the reason I’m coaching in Boys 1-2 this year. I’ll talk more about the Cavaliers as the year goes on.