This blog will be kind of an amalgam of numerous thoughts as well as a quick update on what’s to come in the next several weeks. Similar to any practice or game plan, things constantly change and you have to be flexible to be successful and I want to keep you as up to date as possible.
Before I move on I want to highly recommend the book Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inside Basketball by Pat Williams. It is an easy, enjoyable read for any basketball player, coach or fan. The stories are both inspirational and touching. And if I haven’t mentioned, one of my goals for 2009 is to read 52 books – a book a week average. This includes audio books from iTunes which have become a staple when I travel. So far I am on pace and have read (or listened to) 20 books!
Hopefully everyone is enjoying March Madness so far. This is always my favorite time of year as a fan. At the time of this writing, two of the four Final Four teams have punched their ticket – Villanova and Connecticut. I have been fortunate enough to get to know the Villanova program really well as Coach Wright and his phenomenal staff has been frequently seen recruiting at Montrose for the last several years. Two of our seniors, Mouph Yarou and Isaiah Armwood, have committed to play for the Wildcats next year. And while I have had the opportunity to work with three of their players in high school (Dante Cunningham, Scottie Reynolds, and Dwayne Anderson), I wanted to share a quick thought on why their trip the Final Four is particularly special to me.
I have known and worked with Dwayne “Duece Duece” Anderson (his nickname comes from the fact he wears #22) since he was a senior at St. John’s High School in Washington, DC. Duece was an All Met player and one of the best in the very competitive WCAC conference. Despite a decorated high school resume, his first few years at Villanova were very tough for him as he saw extremely limited playing time. His lack of defense and a consistent jump shot prevented him from earning more minutes. This went on for three years. Yet Duece stuck with it. He worked brutally hard every off-season and exercised great communication with the Nova coaching staff on not only his desire to earn playing time, but exactly what he needed to do to earn it. He basically worked as hard as he could to fix the areas he (and the Nova staff) found weak in his yearly evaluation. In other words, he didn’t make excuses or point the finger and he didn’t feel entitled to more playing time… he rolled up his sleeves each and every off-season and put in serious work. He was focused and determined. This should give you a glimpse as to what a solid person he is. And here, four years later as a senior, Dwayne “Duece Duece” Anderson is a starter, a captain, and a major contributor (had 17 points and 4 rebounds in the Elite 8 against Pitt) on a team going to the Final Four! And the best part is he truly deserves his success. I could not be more proud of him.
I also want to make one quick note about a quote from the legendary Coach K of Duke (to whom I have always been a fan). After their loss to Villanova in the Sweet Sixteen, when talking about his players and how he felt about the loss, he said “I am disappointed for them, not disappointed in them.” A classy line from a classy coach.
I am leaving this morning for Miami to work the prestigious McDonald's All American game. This is my 4th year working the event and it is always both an honor and a pleasure to be a part. I have worked with most of the players before at either the Nike Skills Academies and several of them accompanied me on a trip to Brazil with a Nike USA U-19 team. As for my role, I am in charge of warming up and stretching out both the male and female players before each practice and the game on Wednesday night (which is live on ESPN at 8pm EST). I also serve as a resource to the players and coaches so they understand exactly what they will need to do to compete at as high of a level as possible. I will post a blog on Friday April 3rd with my behind the scenes insight and thoughts to this event.
Upon my return, Montrose will be playing in the first ever ESPN RISE National High School Invitational ("NHSI") (April 3-5). This amazing event marks the nation’s top high school post season and a dramatic first step in a playoff to determine a true national champion. This inaugural event boasts four teams in the top 10 in the country, including the nations’ two top teams – Findlay Prep and Oak Hill Academy (ranked #1 and #2 respectively). Montrose drew the 3rd seed and will have to beat both Findlay and Oak Hill to win the championship! Considering our only two losses this season were to Oak Hill, the chance to play them a third time… in the NHSI Championship…. Live on ESPN… would be the opportunity of a lifetime! For more information on the event, teams, brackets, dates/times, and ticket info please visit www.nhsihoops.com. Win or lose, I will post a blog on Monday April 6th with my behind the scenes commentary on this historic tournament.
If you would like to contact me about this blog, my training and/or camps and clinics, please email me at Alan@StrongerTeam.com. I will respond as quickly as possible!
Train hard. Train smart.