The Lost Art of the Game: From a Player to a Critic’s Perspective


Now that University of Connecticut head women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma has given his perspective of the game, allow me to add my two cents…

In his recent song “False Prophets,” rapper J.Cole makes a statement “always worried about the critics who aint never freaking did it, I write what’s in my heart, don’t really care who messing with it. But in a sense, I can relate, the need to be great turns into an obsession that keeps a brother up late writing words, hoping people observe the dedication that stirs in you constantly, but intentions get blurred.” That’s the clean version.

Well, I always write what’s in my heart, whether readers agree or not. And in this case, I am a critic, but the difference is I have done it.

I’ve had the perspective of an athlete, a coach and now a fan and a writer. But, it’s tough to be a fan and a writer and not be critical. So, as I critique the game and the players who play it, I have to remind myself I was once a player being talked, written, tweeted and posted about, good and bad. It annoys me to sit in the stands at a basketball game and fans make comments when they don’t even know the game or down-talk a player when they couldn’t do any better themselves. Although I’m entitled to my perspective, I try to be as honest and respectful as possible. Read More

Jen Welter: Women, Publicity and Leverage


In the summer of 2015, Jen Welter took the sports world  by storm becoming the first woman coach in NFL history. Welter was hired by the Arizona Cardinals as an assistant coaching intern for training camp and the preseason to work with inside linebackers. But once her month-long internship with the Cardinals concluded, Welter didn’t land a full-time coaching job in the NFL.

This begs the question if Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians had any intentions of hiring Welter full-time or whether it was a publicity stunt for the Cardinal organization to be the first to give a woman a chance to coach in the NFL. A little less than a year prior to Welter being hired, Becky Hammon became the first full-time, paid woman coach in the NBA, working as an assistant for the San Antonio Spurs. Even with her reputable collegiate and professional basketball resume and future Hall of Fame likelihood, it’s likely Hammon did have to intern with the Spurs to see if she would be a good fit. However, the groundbreaking news was that Hammon was actually hired as a full-time assistant coach… meaning the internship was private and the announcement of her being hired was made public; the complete opposite of Jen Welter’s situation. Read More

Burkett Leads Visiting Team to Back-to-Back “Coaches vs. Coaches” Victories


Hoover’s Charles Burkett scored 15 second-half points to lead his team to victory in the 2nd annual “Coaches vs. Coaches” basketball game.

Hoover’s Charles Burkett picked up where he left off from last year’s “Coaches vs. Coaches” basketball game leading his visiting team to a 70-66 victory.

In the first ever “Coaches Got Game Too” matchup in 2015, Burkett finished with 17 points and the only dunk of the game that was the cherry on top of a sweet, comeback victory for his ball club.

Click link to see highlights of 2015 game.

This time around, Burkett and company led the entire first half, entering the break with a 36-31 advantage. However, similar to the previous year, the home squad didn’t go down without a fight. Led by Restoration Academy Demetrius Coates’ eight second-half points, the home team would go on a 17-to-9 run to take a 48-45 edge entering the fourth quarter.

Leading with just under five minutes left to play, home-team captain and event host Darrell Barber of Midfield said his team needed to continue to take care of the ball, play together and limit Burkett. Read More

The Big Question: Is Transferring The Same As Quitting?


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Following University of Alabama redshirt freshman quarterback Blake Barnett’s decision to transfer last month, there was a lot of controversy surrounding his choice to leave four games into the season.

Regarding midseason transfers, head coach Nick Saban says, “There’s certain pride people have in competition. There’s certain things I was taught growing up about not quitting and seeing things through. I think If I’d come home and told my dad that I was going to quit the team, I think he’d have kicked me out of the house.”

Barnett, a five-star recruit from California, started Alabama’s season opener against the University of Southern California before he was pulled in favor of freshman Jalen Hurts. Maybe it’s the timing in which Barnett left rather than the point of him leaving that has upset many supporters of the Crimson Tide. However, since Barnett decided to leave when he did, he will be eligible to play at another FBS program during this time next year if he meets the minimum credits and GPA, and graduates from the junior college he will currently attend.

On the other hand, it seems hypocritical of Coach Saban to criticize players transferring midseason when he left the Miami Dolphins – with three seasons remaining on his contract – in January 2007 to coach at Alabama. His departure was probably most shocking because of the statement he made in December 2006, amid a 6-10 Dolphins season: “I guess I have to say it: I’m not going to be the Alabama coach.” Read More

History Repeats Itself: The Protest That Began Over Four Decades Ago


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San Francisco 49ers’ backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick has recently sparked a protest among NFL players after refusing to stand for the national anthem, stating that he wasn’t “going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” During preseason games as well as the season opener, Kaepernick has knelt on the sidelines. Teammate Eric Reid chose to follow suit in kneeling beside Kaepernick in the season opener and some Miami Dolphins players decided to take a knee during their opener as well. However, players from the LA Rams, New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs decided to take a different approach, standing while raising gloved fists, the same pose 200-meter gold medalist Tommie Smith and bronze medalist John Carlos enacted during the medal ceremony at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. Smith and Carlos’ gestures occurred during the American national anthem as well, unknowingly leading the way for many protests to come.

Successful entrepreneur and businessman Daymond John suggests, “You will never create anything new. There’ll only be a new delivery and a new market.” The context of this quote is centered around the business industry; however, the same applies for any other subject matter, including the NFL players’ protests. The sports in which the protests have occurred and the stage of the protests may differ, but the reason for the protests and their intended messages are the same – to stand against racial inequality and injustices against people of color. So in a sense, history repeats itself, as well as foreshadows the future.

In a documentary on the 1968 Mexico City games produced for HBO, Tommie Smith says, “We were just human beings who saw the need to bring attention to the inequality in our country… I don’t like the idea of people looking at it as a negative. There was nothing but a raised fist in the air and a bowed head – acknowledging the American flag – not symbolizing a hatred for it.”

According to Time magazine, the Australian, 200-meter silver medalist, Peter Norman, stood with Smith and Carlos wearing an Olympic Project for Human Rights badge to show his support during the medal ceremony. Smith and Carlos were pallbearers at Norman’s funeral in 2006. Read More

A Progressive Triumph: Why News Mediums Stating “First African American” Matters


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After Simone Manuel became the first African-American woman to win an individual, Olympic swimming medal, almost every sports medium emphasized in their headlines or in their social media captions, “first African American.” Many fans commented their discontent about the need to state those three words, making the point that it’s not about race but about American athletes well-representing the United States and winning gold medals for their country.

However, if all Americans acknowledge that there was a time when African Americans weren’t counted as equal citizens like white Americans and afforded the opportunity to participate in certain sports at the highest level, then everyone would understand the need to emphasize “first African American.”

Although this article focuses on the importance of African Americans being recognized as the first to accomplish milestones in their respective sports, the same applies for any other minority group, whether it’s in sports, business, television and film, or many other genres of life. Even though progressions have been made, the struggles for people of color in the aforementioned industries are still quite obvious. If all Americans were afforded equal opportunities and resources since the birth of America, every time anyone accomplished something that previously hadn’t been done, the news caption would likely always read, “first American, first American male or first American female.” The need to specify gender is a topic for another day.  Read More

Former Kingwood Christian Coach to Head Alabama Prep Sports Academy Basketball


Photo credit: Coach Danny Davis

Former Kingwood Christian School Head Basketball Coach Danny Davis is now the head coach of Alabama Prep Sports Academy men’s basketball. 2016 is the inaugural season for the APSA basketball program.

As the head coach of the boys’ and girls’ basketball teams at Kingwood, Davis led the Lions to two final fours, four elite eights and four area championships. Davis also served as an assistant girls’ basketball coach at Huffman high school, and as the head coach at Smith Middle School where he won a city championship.

However, it’s likely that his experience at the semi-professional level – where he’s currently the assistant coach of the Georgia Stampede women’s team out of Atlanta – and the development of the Southern Basketball Academy are what caught the eye of APSA.

His Southern Basketball Academy assists youth basketball players through training clinics, competitive summer travel and overall development of the game. Through the SBA, Davis says he’s assisted almost 28 student-athletes with obtaining basketball scholarships to play at the collegiate level… a reward he deems as his most notable accomplishment.

Sharing the same goal as the APSA, which is to bridge the gap between academics and athletics, Davis asserts the post-graduate basketball program at the academy is setup to promote improvement and achievement academically, athletically and socially.

“If you’ve graduated high school and your goal is to play college basketball and you aren’t able to because of academics or lack of recruiting, APSA may be the opportunity you’re looking for; if you’ve graduated high school and have received offers to play in college but feel you could’ve earned offers from bigger schools, APSA may be a good fit for you; if you were heavily recruited in high school and have thought about playing professionally after college, APSA could also be a legitimate option for you; transfer students looking to earn additional college credits are also eligible for APSA.”

The Bearcats previously held a tryout with about 15 to 20 players in attendance. However, Davis says he’s still looking to fill the roster. Read More

The First Powerhouse of the WNBA: The Houston Comets

Houston Comets

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Although Women’s History month has concluded, the history that many women have made continues to lives on. When it comes to the sports arena and its powerhouses and dynasties, the discussion is usually one-dimensional, strictly focusing on the men’s side; for example, the team sport of basketball. Although the UCONN women’s basketball team is an exception of this separation – due to its garnering of coverage in part of its dominance – the Huskies are still considered second-class citizens in a male dominated industry. Whether sports fanatics want to admit it or not, UCONN is the greatest basketball dynasty at the collegiate level thus far, in regards to statistics not gender. With his 11th national championship this past season, head coach Geno Auriemma surpassed John Wooden for most titles by any head coach in NCAA basketball.

The Huskies also became the first D1 women’s basketball team to win four consecutive titles, has completed six perfect seasons and nine undefeated seasons. There are many documentaries that tell the stories of great men’s college basketball dynasties: “The Fab Five,” “Running Rebels of UNLV,” “Survive and Advance” and many more. It’ll be interesting to see once the UCONN dominance comes to an end, if there’ll be a special film documenting what that program, its players and its coach have done, not only for women’s basketball, but for the game itself.

Now, let’s move on to the professional level where the discussions of great sports dynasties are limited to the NBA. There are many sports documentaries, films, shows and analysts to educate the current sport generation about the great teams and players that came before this time: Bill Russell and the Boston Celtics won 11 NBA titles during the Red Auerbach era, a series of documentaries covering the LA Lakers, Isaiah Thomas and the Detroit “Bad Boys” Pistons and Michael Jordan and the Bulls. Furthermore, almost every team has a big three who leads it to winning a championship; for example, in the modern age of the game, the Celtics had Allen, Pierce and Garnett; the Heat had James, Wade and Bosh; and the Spurs have Parker, Duncan and Ginobil. However, it seems as if “they forgot about Dre.” Read More

I Used to Love Him: From a Player’s to a Coach’s Perspective – The Finale

Feb. 17, 2016 179

Coach K and Coach Young after a double-digit semifinal victory over Evans to advance to the championship game to face Prairie Cove.

“Can I kick it? Yes, you can! Well, I’m gone!”… Now, don’t get me wrong, I know kids will be kids; rather, teens will be teens. And we did have some great times with the girls; we would horseplay with them, practice with them (to help make them better and because we would always be short-handed) and we would would discuss what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of them wanted to be accountants, veterinarians, as well as pursue other professions. So, we stressed how important it was for them to be respectful and to put their best foot forward in the classroom.

Again, I can’t speak for Coach K, but coaching brought about mixed emotions: I was fresh out of graduate school transitioning into corporate America – or the “real world” as it’s so often referred to – so I was still figuring out the woman I was and the woman I wanted to become. It’s tougher than people realize to be yourself and have fun, as well as be an authoritarian at the same time. On one hand, you’re relatable to the girls because of the small age difference; on the other hand, the small age difference causes both the coaches and players to get beside themselves.

Even though the girls didn’t know our exact ages, they knew we were young; so, sometimes they got too comfortable. On the flip side, K and I didn’t just see the girls as our players, but as our little sisters: we loved them and wanted to see them do well. But, when your little sister gets out of line, you want to jack her up. Then, reality kicks in – they’re someone else’s child, you’re the child’s coach and you can’t jack them up… I learned this the hard way. Lol.

Nevertheless, K and I still wanted to show the parents and players a token of our appreciation for senior night  (the last home game of the regular season where the 8th graders are recognized for their service as a student-athlete). We only had two 8th graders so K and I wanted to honor all the girls. We were last minute pulling things together, and I’ll take most of the blame because K mentioned it early in the season, but I put it off. We were running out of time and we didn’t have a clue of what to get the girls that was within our budget and that would be ready by senior night. On top of this, K grew ill and informed me she was going to miss senior night. Not only were we going to be empty-handed, but I was going to look bad by myself. Lol. Oh, but God worked it out like he always does!

A few weeks prior, the girls had taken individual and team photos, but the photographer didn’t know if he would have them ready in time – he surprised me with the photos the day of the game; the athletic director had some blank certificates that I had signed to go with the pictures; and, the AD covered the cost of having food catered so we could feed the players and their parents… Ayyee, God is good!!

Although I wanted things to be a lot more organized as far as presentation and everybody being on the same page, everything still went well. However – being that we had a long break before the championship tournament and it was the last game the 8th graders would play in that gym – I expected a better performance than the girls put out. Granted, I allowed players like Jamie and DJ to play sooner and longer than they usually did due to it being senior night, so I’m sure it disrupted our normal rhythm. But hey, a win is a win and we finished the regular season 14-0. Read More

I Used to Love Him: From a Player’s to a Coach’s Perspective Part II

March 6, 2016 111

Coach Young and Coach K after a 30-20 victory at home against Beckenfield. The Lady Wolverines advanced to 10-0.

Around the same time Hart made her exit, we also lost one of our role players, Elle. She played volleyball and decided to give basketball a try. She wasn’t a bad player but she dealt with behavioral issues as well. She was actually suspended twice. The first time was for flipping over a desk after she received a grade that wasn’t to her liking. After the first offense, I spoke with her mom and we agreed that she shouldn’t be removed from the team. Her mom would handle her at home and K and I would discipline her at practice once she returned from her suspension.

Well, her first day back, she was suspended again for “inappropriate” behavior, to my understanding. Although Coach K and I hadn’t known her that long, it hurt our hearts to know that one of our players was participating in extracurricular activities (other than sports) and doing it at school. Let’s be real, when I was in middle school, some of my peers were doing the same things in school too. This generation is no different. It’s sad, but true.

With preparation for the season being rushed, K and I didn’t have a chance to have a girl talk. Better yet, we didn’t have a chance to have a Truth talk. Most kids that age participate in sexual activity to fit in or because they’re lacking something at home and they try to fill a void that leaves them even more empty. Only Christ can make us whole and complete. Once I looked back on it, looking for love and trying to fit in was the case for Elle because apparently this behavior had been going on for quite some time. The sad part was that we had to hear it from our own players.

So, we used that as a small teaching moment to let the girls know that wasn’t the lifestyle Christ wanted for them and to stay focused on Him, school and basketball. We encouraged the girls to grow in their relationship with Christ by making them take turns praying after practices and games and explaining to them why we did so. Maybe it would’ve made a difference for Elle if we had the conversation sooner. I called her mom to get to the bottom of the situation but she didn’t answer or call back, of course. Yet again, another player’s career ended before it could begin. Read More

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