Talks With Basketball Team Coaches of the 2018 US Talent Development Tour
Basketball Queensland had 4 teams – North and South Girls and North and South Boys go over to the US for the 2018 USA Development Tour from the 29th June to the 10th July. All teams competed in an NCAA Accredited Tournament, visited UCLA and Loyola Marymount University, went to Disney and California Adventure Park and got to see many other famous US attractions. We chatted to the coaches of each of the teams on how their teams performed in the tournaments, find out their highlights of the tour and what they recommend for athletes wanting to go on future tours:
Hayden Lynam – North Boys
The Talent Development North men’s team firstly competed in the Swoosh Independence Day Classic. The group were initially exposed to a different level of athlete and a more physical style of play when compared to what the athletes were generally accustomed to competing against in Queensland. Once the group adjusted to the physicality and the challenge of sometimes competing against older groups, the team started to find their feet and embrace the competition. The team competed in the final of the first tournament losing to the eventual champions – OC Swoosh. The group then had a break and next competed in the Exposure Basketball – Clash of the Counties tournament. The team was better prepared for the physicality and style of play the second time around now having been exposed to the American style of play. The group lost in a hard-fought first game, however, showed resiliency and bounced back to finish the tournament on a positive note with a three-game winning streak. Each athlete showed improvement over the course of the program and the team continued to improve every time we stepped on the floor. Some of the highlights of the trip included visiting the UCLA and LMU campuses, attending Drew League basketball, WNBA basketball at Staples Center, 4th of July Baseball at Dodger Stadium, training with a professional basketball skills trainer along with general L.A. sightseeing, shopping and of course – the food. One of the most memorable moments for the athletes would be sharing the same hotel as Lavar, LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball. There were numerous paparazzi style encounters and photo opportunities for the athletes that ensued. You never know who you will bump into in Los Angeles! For any aspiring athletes wishing to attend next year’s tour, I would recommend continuing to invest in your own skill development to put yourself in a position to be selected on this tour. It is an excellent basketball and cultural experience which not only will assist in your own basketball development and progression but is also an invaluable experience you will never forget.
Krystal Watson – South Boys
The U16 Queensland South boys that were selected in the Talent Development Program recently went on tour to the USA and what a fantastic opportunity it is for them. The boys played against highly skilled American teams in two tournaments, the “Swoosh Independence Day” and “Clash of the Counties”. Playing 8 games in total with mixed results. The competition was tough and each athlete in the team was challenged, seeing them pushed out of their comfort zone. However, this challenge also allowed the boys to see what they are now capable of achieving! Although the Queensland South team may not have gotten the win record they were working towards, their effort and the way they competed against the American style of basketball was highly admirable. The south boys played extremely well as a team and every athlete contributed and played their role well. The team’s favourite overall highlights of the USA tour was having an opportunity to play American style pick-up games at a 24-hour fitness gym and at Venice Beach. The boys had the chance to be trained by WNBA/NBA skills trainer Jason Wright who tested everyone with elite moves and drills. Going to the Staples Centre to watch the WNBA LA Sparks play and touring UCLA were also very memorable highlights. Anything related to American basketball the team wanted to be a part of. The team’s favourite non-basketball event was driving through Beverley Hills, walking down Rodeo Drive and of course Disneyland. So many great memories!! I would highly recommend athletes aspiring to be part of a USA tour next year to not only develop their individual skills but to also know how to compete physically and to build mental toughness. Take pride in the body language you portray as an athlete, have a next play mentality and be open to learning from your coach. My last advice is to be willing to accept tough challenges that allow you to get out of your comfort zone, as these challenges will show you what you are truly capable of achieving.
Graeme Williams – South Girls
Overall team performance for the two tournaments was a six-win three loss record. The standard of play in the second tournament was very good and the girls were challenged in every game. We finished the second tournament in 3rd place with the highlight game being our last game where the team overcame a 12-point deficit early to run out 14 point victors. The girls enjoyed the challenge while playing in the USA especially the physicality and the camaraderie experienced with the American teams. From a coaching perspective, the success of this team was that they were a ‘team’ – on and off the court they displayed great team ethos and were able to stay ‘together’ during the tough moments on the court. We managed to get in an extra training session during the trip which was much needed during the break between tournaments. Other than the tournament play, the girls got to see many of the attractions around LA. A visit Staples Centre for a WNBA game where the girls enjoyed a courtside experience with the LA Sparks was a highlight which the girls absolutely loved! They didn’t mind the shopping experience at Orange County Outlets either. For athletes who want to go on these tours, you need to be in great physical shape and work on your fundamentals! The Americans love to pressure you all over the court, you need to be able to remain poised and work together to beat them!
James Rapinett – North Girls
On the 29th of June 10 aspiring, passionate, enthusiastic but most of all excited ‘basketballers’ set off to California. The trip was off to a flying start with a practice session as soon we hit the ground. We had our first tournament beginning on the Saturday. We came up against some really tough opponents whose style of play was aggressive and fast, we ended up coming out of the weekend with a win and a lot of experience. Our second tournament was the following weekend, again, it was a tough competition with the American girls playing a really up-tempo in your face style of basketball. I was super proud of the effort the girls gave and how much they had learnt in such a short amount of time. We were especially lucky to be invited to a practice session with Warren High Schools Varsity team on the Thursday before our second tournament. On the Monday-Thursday throughout the week we go to do some sight-seeing. There were too many highlights to mention in this short piece, but some of the more memorable ones were; Disney land, LA Sparks game (getting to go on court), Hollywood walk of fame with an open bus tour, just to name a few. The overall highlight of the trip was practising with the Warren Bears and getting to on court with the LA Sparks. My advice to any aspiring athletes would be to talk to someone who has been on the trip (coach, player or official) and get some tips on how to prepare themselves on the style of play they may be coming up against. We all had a great trip and bought back a wealth of experience and memories.