by Kent Sterling
The particulars of this game are not important. The game was not in doubt from the opening tip, and the 32 minute contest was an exercise in futility for both teams.
As kids get older, the radius used to draw the players extends and those with really good players tend to humiliate the neighborhood or school teams that remain after the kids start high school. The summer before freshman year, teams can compete a bit, but after that summer the fun teams that want to get together to enjoy competition and revelry are so hopelessly outmatched that they neither compete nor revel in the experience.
The halftime score was something like 53-5, and the Elite team relaxed a little bit toward the end of the half. The result was unfair to both teams. Nothing either team could do – Indiana Elite South shouldn’t be forced to play worse, and there is no way for a lesser team to become instantly greater through sheer force of will, so South acceded to the request of the opposing coach and run clock.
Dan Dakich is the coach of South, and he told the opposing coach that if South’s kids stopped playing hard that would only encourage the team getting its ass beat to quit themselves. That’s exactly what happened even before the first half ended as you can see from the highlights here – there were no highlights in the second half, so you are spared the difficulty of watching both teams hold back – one because they were told to and the other because the team (minus two guards who sporadically scrapped) quit.
Summer basketball is a strange place – especially for sophomores-to-be. Dreams dies hard, and there are parents whose eyes are deceived into believing that they can compete with kids who are destined to play basketball at a high level. When kids are little, there are days when grit without talent can triumph. By this age, talent wins. Among equally sized and talented kids, tenacity is huge. Coaches who say things to parents and kids like, “We’re going to Indy to take on the big boys are going to be embarrassed and will waste the entry fee.
Every year our team went to the BCI Nationals in Dallas, Phoenix, or Lubbock, pool play was always marred by at least one game against a team that had no chance of competing. A fifth grade team running a well-timed motion offense would be tough to beat by a good team. Against a group of very short and athletically ungifted Native Americans, our team won by 70. The kids on both teams felt ridiculous. It happens, but the coaches of a group who can’t play at this level needs to recognize that and utilize their kids talents in better ways.
There are more important issues than winning silly summer tournaments, but there are few lessons to be learned by getting pummeled by kids who have the talent and size necessary to play college basketball.
Some of the best players in the eastern half of the United States are playing near or at North Central High School, and there will be some great games. For my money the price for the privilege of watching is a little steep – $15 for all the games today and tomorrow – but where else are you going to feed that basketball jones in July?
I’m going to a couple of games each day, so check back for highlights of the best players and teams.