Love of the Sport

I’m very excited that we’re starting to get responses for the 2017 Greyhounds.  Mason Chandler and Sam Clubb have committed to returning, and we’re getting responses from players who have only played against us;  even one from a player who has never played FOR or AGAINST us.  And that tells me that our love for the sport of basketball is what’s doing the talking.

The love of the sport is so important.  When you love the sport, that love can bleed over to teammates.  And that sort of love is contagious.

I’m also excited that I’m about to go on vacation aboard Anthem Of The Seas.  What does this have to do with basketball?  Well, on my first trip on Anthem of the Seas, during the maiden Atlantic crossing, I happened to win the 3-point shoot-out, and my team won the 3-on-3 tournament.  I’m hoping for a repeat.

For those of you who are unaware, my shooting has been affected by another degenerated disc in my neck, which hurt the strength and mobility of my left hand.  I’m starting to come back – thanks to the good folks at PEAK Sport and Spine, where I did my re-hab, and also to my wonderful teammates and friends who play basketball at the Tribune.  A special shout-out to original Greyhound Patrick Smith, who also happens to have done something with EVERY Greyhound team, and who the Smith Trophy is named for.  Patrick is working to help me get back the strength and the shot I’ve lost.

Also, for those of you who are unaware, I have presumably played my last competitive basketball game, with Team Carfax.  Lots of great teammates over the years – including three Greyhound connections:  Patrick Smith, Mason Chandler, and former Greyhound Assistant Coach Jacob Rogers.  Also, at what figures to be my last game, I was blessed to have former and current Greyhounds Sam Clubb and Lindale Baker on hand.  With the injuries racking up, plus my weight plus my age making me slower and slower, it doesn’t make a lot of sense for me to keep playing.  I’ve had a great career as a player, and this season was in a few ways, my best.  So, perhaps, next year will feature a Greyhound Legacy team in the City League – with me on the sidelines as a coach.

Love of the sport leads to love of others when you do it right.  And that’s what Greyhound Basketball is all about.

First Practice completed

We completed our first practice on this past Saturday.  10 of our 12 players were there, including new addition, forward Ian Meyer.  Assistant Coach Sam Clubb was not there, as he is returning from a family vacaction, but he texted us, and had his introduction pre-recorded for us.  However, former Greyhound Shelomi Miner was at practice, and helped us out.

We first covered the team rule about injuries;  all injuries are to be reported, with no exceptions.  They are to be reported to ALL COACHES plus the player’s parents.  We did some basic stretching, and we then started learning the Motion framework, which serves as the starting point for our man-to-man offense.

As always, some players took better to the motion system than others did.  Among the better at the beginning were Lindale Baker, Keylan Horn, Kolin Easterling, Cody Koebel, Lemuel Miner, Connor Parrish.  As always, the problems that seemed to occur were the typical ones:  outside players not cutting immediately after passing, big men getting confused as to which direction they go on the inner rotation, or worse yet, not moving.

Afterwards, we did our player introductions.  Kolin kicked it off, and as we went around, bits and pieces started to get funny.  We were doing a better job of joking around and having fun during the intros that we’ve ever done.

We did some motion work against real defense, and before we knew it, it was time for free throws and suicides.  Only one player – Connor Parrish – made his free-throw goal, winning the first week for the skill players.

Of course, I turned 50 this past week, and by Greyhound tradition, each player and coach got to take me one-on-one, to make sure I haven’t lost a step and can still play.  Well, the players this year fared better than they have in the past;  Keylan Horn absolutely burned me.

We finished up with some scrimmage.  As a whole, I felt we had forgotten too much of our positioning and flow of motion at the scrimmage.  I have to give props to two people who were talking with each other and trying to keep the principles in place going:  Lindale Baker and Kolin Easterling.  They kept it together, and started getting offense late with feeds to Cody Koebel.  While Connor Parrish and Keylan Horn were trying to pull the team together, it tended to break down a bit more.  However, Keylan’s pushing the ball and Connor’s shooting kept their team in the game.

My review of the practice:  A good, solid start.

Mason Chandler’s pick for best practice:  Lindale Baker

My pick for best practice:  Kolin Easterling

The 2015 Line Award Winner

Okay, I’ve finally gotten done crunching last year’s statistics; minutes played was the last one for me to do, and I had a bit of trouble with this one. However, I’m now done, which means it’s time to announce the Line Award winner.

For those of you who don’t know, the Line Award is named after the Line brothers, Ethan Line, who was the first honorable mention for the award, and Travis Line, who was the winner of the first two awards. It is the person with the top +/- ratio PER MINUTE. In other words, how much better are we than the opponent with you on the court.

First, an honorable mention: Brendan Royer. Brendan isn’t eligible for the actual award, because we only play players who are third or fourth graders in very limited minutes. However, being effective in those minutes is awesome, and I’m very proud to see Brendan join the honorable mention list for this award.

The 2015 Line Award goes to Cody Koebel.

Cody won one of the closest battles in Line Award history, narrowly edging Tosin Ogungbade and Connor Parrish. Cody won the award by playing major minutes for the team, while being an effective scorer and a solid defender. In fact, Cody was the youngest player in the game during the closest game in Greyhound history – and folks, get ready to celebrate, because he’s coming back this year! In fact, the top four guys are all back this year! High expectations this year, guys, and a big congratulations to Cody.

Greyhound 2016 Invitations are out!

Earlier today, Greyhound 2016 invitations went out.  We’re gearing up for the 2016 Show-Me State Games.

Our initial invitee lists includes 8 potential returning Greyhounds.  Five of these are offered guaranteed spots:  Kolin Easterling, Connor Parrish, Lemuel Miner, Tosin Ogungbade, and Cody Koebel.  Cody has already accepted the invitation, and claimed his 35 jersey.  Also, return invitations were extended to Brendan Royer, Asa Holcomb, and Alex Hook.

We have a few of invitations issued to players who have played for me in Upward, as well;  invitations were issued to Isaiah Larkins and Lindale Baker, who along with Asa, Alex, and Cody were part of my 2014 Tarheels.  Invitations were also extended to Max Sachs, who played for my 2015 Bruins along with Asa, and Robert Lee, who was a 2013 Cyclone along with Cody.

There were also invitations issued to brothers of former Greyhounds;  in addition to Brandon, Lemuel, Tosin and Alex, invitations went out to Josh Candrl, Lane Diggs, and Cooper Rhoades.  Also, former Bruin Jeremy Anderson‘s older brother, Zach Anderson, was invited.

The final 7 invitations went to players who’ve got no experience with me as a coach:  Landon Block, Justin Goolsby, Keylan Horn, Bryce Irvin, A.J. Jones, Craig McGowan, and Zane Meyer.  Landon, who is playing for another team, declined his invitation in a very sportsman-like note from his parents;  we wish Landon all the best with his team.

Mason Chandler and Sam Clubb return as my assistant coaches this year.

We have secured gym space at The Armory for five of the six scheduled practices.  The practices we’ve scheduled run from 9:00 AM to 12:00 noon, on Saturday, June 4, Saturday, June 18, Saturday June 25, Saturday, July 9, and Saturday, July 16.  We have not confirmed the location for the practice scheduled for June 11 as of yet.

A main page will be added to update you as to the upcoming year’s roster.

Sportsmanship Matters

I agonized over a decision this evening.  I have a bad cold, and even took a day away from work to try to get over it.  Those of you who know me know that I have a great deal of trouble breathing in cold weather, especially after playing basketball.  And the Carfax team is very important to me, especially considering the friends I have on the team.  But I decided against playing.

What wasn’t up for debate was whether or not I’d be at the game.  I was.  In uniform.  And ready to play *IF* it came to that.  I have great teammates, and they didn’t need me;  they picked up for me when my health let them down.  I didn’t face criticism, but support.  That’s what REAL teams do.  You see, sportsmanship starts at home.

The last three years have been the three best years the Carfax team has ever had.  We have better chemistry than ever.  We like each other more, and we respect each other.  I’m not going to pretend that we’re as good of sportsmen as we need to be, but we’re better than we’ve ever been about respecting our teammates.

How fitting it was this weekend in watching NFL football that we got to see the failure of POOR sportsmanship.  I watched a significant part of the Pittsburgh vs. Cincinnati game – notably, the end of that game.  Cincinnati took poor sportsmanship to its ultimate conclusion – a loss.  And it didn’t take an entire team to get to that, either.  When it comes to sportsmanship, one rotten apple *DOES* spoil the barrel.

We have a saying on the teams I coach:  “Sportsmanship puts REAL POINTS on the scoreboard.”  It does it because sportsmanship allows other folks to help you along toward your goals.  Sportsmanship gets other folks to share their secrets to success with you.  Sportsmanship makes you the recipient of knowledge, instruction, inside information, and support.

Poor sportsmanship leads to resentment.  It leads to things like we saw in Cincinnati.  My personal favorite was the tirade Pacman Jones threw afterward.  He fired off a profanity-laced complaint about a coach being on the field.  And you know – he might – just might – have had a point.  But we’ll never know, because when Pacman Jones saw someone who wasn’t supposed to be where he was, Pacman Jones decided to bump them.  Apparently Jones must know some football rule that I’m unaware of, namely that “it’s okay to push someone if they’re somewhere you don’t think they should be.”

Folks today think that sportsmanship means you shake hands with the other team’s players after the game.  A few might even shake hands with referees.  It will be the rare one that thanks the folks running scoreboard and the clock.  But if that’s as far as your sportsmanship goes, then you’re not going much of anywhere.

Sportsmanship is an attitude that you adopt and wear for 24 hours a day, 365 days a year (366 in leap years).  The sportsman acts as a protector and custodian of the game itself, and that’s a lot harder than people think!

Kobe Bryant recently remarked that if he had to advise his younger self, it would be about compassion and empathy.

In the meantime, the legacy Kobe Bryant leaves is one of typical poor attitude toward teammates – a franchise in decline.  By failing to have real respect for those folks he played with, the team around Bryant has declined;  those who could have stayed and helped him are long gone.

But in Golden State, they’re celebrating, being led by the 2010-11 Joe Dumars Trophy winner (awarded to the NBA’s best sportsman) – Stephen Curry.  Curry won that award his second year in the league.

The Greyhounds have a sportsmanship trophy that we call the Hamilton Trophy.  I believe it’s important for folks to be recognized for being great sportsmen, because I believe this is truly one of the notable character qualities necessary for sustained high performance.

Exercise your sportsmanship.  Accept the brotherhood that basketball offers with your fellow players, and do your part to enhance and strengthen it.  These qualities will not only make you a better player, but a better person.

Did our Carfax team win tonight?  No.

But we did score our season’s high in points.

Sportsmanship puts REAL POINTS on the scoreboard.

 

 

 

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.