Our last day of camp was on Thursday morning with two rounds of games played before noon. Following the last game, everyone kind of dispersed pretty quickly. Bob tried to get some more photos while both of us spent the last couple of games trying to get a handle on who might make up our All Camp teams.
First, I want to thank Nathan, our Nike Media Coordinator, for all his generous help and guidance. He made our jobs easy and was always at our disposal. He is even trying to get Bob some copies of photos from the official camp photographer to fill in the players that Bob may be missing from his own photos. We would have enjoyed treating Nathan to a lunch or brew but his duty called and was unable. Again, a big thanks for he was truly indispensable...
The play of the last couple of games seemed to reflect the state of exhaustion of the players as few passes were made, fewer drives were attempted and more perimeter shots were jacked up with a lower percentage being made. Considering the level of intensity during the first couple of days, the dropoff in performance was expected and certainly understandable.
Fewer coaches were in attendance with the majority of the remaining coaches being assistants. There were still a few head coaches present but most had left following the second day. The girls were tired and appeared somewhat burnt out though many still showed great heart in trying to rise above their physical limitations.
After an early spate of injuries the first day, the rest of the camp seemed to fare pretty well with only minor dings and tweaks. There were no major injuries that I was aware of though Bob may have heard something I didn't. He will be posting the overall evaluations with his thoughts once we both get a chance to compile and compare our notes.
Suffice it to say that there were no big moves made by any players on the last day that would have drastically altered our perceptions. We appreciated the effort and intensity put forth by all the girls and were quite impressed and entertained by the heightened level of play. These young women were quite a joy to watch as they were, by and large, much less selfish than their counterparts from the opposite gender and seemed to mesh well with their teammates.
This was how basketball was meant to be played! Not above the rim nor far beyond the arc, but all over the floor with equal amounts of crisp passing, deft ballhandling, accurate shooting and spirited defense. Once people get past the mental crutch that anything less than NBA/men's ball is inferior, one will find out how truly exceptional these women athletes truly are. After all, if we are going to be so arrogant as to think that everything "below" the men's college and pro games are not worth watching, then why do we go to high school boys' games? Or better yet, why do we pack the gyms when our 8-10 year olds start playing on their first club teams???
Competition is relative. And even more than that, the women's game is just plain different. The men's game is all about power, quickness, hops and range. The more subtle aspects of basketball are lost amidst the sheer athleticism of today's male athletes. Perhaps basketball was never meant to be played by such dominant physical athletes.
Which is why, to me, the women's game is so much more interesting. The little things like blocking out or sealing on the low block can make a BIG difference in the outcome of a game. All the fine details of technique we spend so much time trying to teach boys and girls as they are growing up can be savored and appreciated in the women's game. Subtlety has not given way to genetics just yet on this side of the gender gap. And thankfully so.
I want to thank all the young women we watched these past few days. In such short time, they restored my faith that the game of basketball has not passed its prime in this day and age. And thanks to all of their coaches and their future coaches who continue to uphold what made this game so great to begin with. It was a good time and I was young all over again!
May each of these young women find their dreams and enjoy the benefits of their hard work. It was genuinely appreciated!
Finally, thanks to Bob Richards for the invite. He is a true professional and despite his attempts to find an Irish Pub in downtown St. Louis at 3am, he was able to drag himself out of bed and to his call of duty with little delay. A real trooper! I enjoyed every minute!
Up next, my interview summaries...