When WINNING an event (7-1) was still the WRONG choice

To date, the team in this post was our most competitive team, with 13 players moving onto the college level.

This post is a recounting of a single weekend in this team’s 2 year commitment with Basics. In short, I was convinced against my better judgment to take the team (our top 8 players) to an AAU event in Detroit.  The players pleaded.  The parents pleaded.


“PLEASE COACH, look how much the players have improved, we really should venture out and see what we can do against this “top level” competition.


While I was curious myself, I knew in my heart through years of playing and training that whatever competition we entered would only be reflective of our preparation, our condition and our mental toughness.  I knew this.  This had been drilled into me by both my high school coach, Bob Sylvestor (in the New England Basketball Hall of Fame) and by Gary Walters, my college coach at Dartmouth, team mate of Bill Bradley’s at Princeton and future 20 year athletic director at Princeton.


Sylvestor to me to “Get a rebound man, please!”                            Walters makes the SI cover at Princeton

So off we went, playing 2 games Friday, 3 Saturday and 3 Sunday.  On a related topic, of course this means 2 nights at a hotel and roughly 6 meals in a restaurant.  Now our players had a blast!  They really did, they bonded further and the pictures are life long memories. My argument is one should never be forced to travel to do this, it seems so far flung and expensive.


So here are the results

  • We went 7-1 and won the championship game by 25 points.
  • We beat Motor City Mayhem (twice), Dearborn Elite, Speice (Indiana) team # 1 and team # 2, Ft Wayne Ballers and the Detroit Storm.
  • It was the single worst experience of my time running Basics. This sentiment is shared by both our players and their parents. This experience (among others) is largely responsible for my avoidance of these organized, supposedly “competitive” events.  There was very little that was competitive about this experience.

I will not go into detail but briefly, here were the primary issues.

  1. The officials were average at best, some never ran at all.  One guy never crossed half court.
  2. Several of the teams we played were incredibly disrespectful, their poor behavior made even worse by poor coaching.  Too many of the coaches were NOT in control of their teams.
  3. One of our players sustained a serious leg injury on a play that was suspect. (he was undercut in an extremely dangerous manner, resulting in a 6 month injury to a player who scored 1500+ points in high school.)  The lackadaisical officiating was related to this injury.
  4. This may be no surprise to those that know about these events but the spectators were often poorly behaved and ill tempered.  PLEASE NOTE:  I am no withering flower.  I am 6’9″, 250 lbs and have played smash-mouth basketball all my life.  This does NOT mean spectators, coaches, players, parents should ever be demeaning or destructive in their behavior, language or actions.

  Parents, if you’ve gotten this far, read a little bit more!


At Basics, we really only care about your son or daughter and their improvement.  The results along the way are indicators of growth, not landmark outcomes that define a player’s worth or value or potential.   Way WAY too many programs put too much emphasis on tournament play in events that really have no meaning except to the organizers who often make a bundle by running these events.   While I know these organizers know better, this statement from Sinclair Lewis nails why they look the other way.

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his income depends on his not understanding it.”