South Africa's basketball community

SA teams July low down, the drama and the lies…

By on July 19, 2009 in News

The USSA team recently came back from Serbia where they didn’t fare really well, finishing last. We can be quick to point the blame on the coaches or players but I think that before we do that we should look at the planning that went into getting the team selected and ready to participate in this tournament. We don’t seem to learn from our mistakes and year in and  year out we sent teams to international tournaments hoping that they will pull off miracles and win a game or two or even qualify in the case of qualifiers.

The young men and the coaches that went to represent South Africa at the World Student Games went there with the best intentions but with the wrong tools or not enough of them. It’s like going to play a basketball game and when you get there you realize that you didn’t bring any balls and the hoops are not available but there are two teams and all the officials are there. My point is that I feel that this team was set up to fail from the time they were selected at the USSA tournament at the University of Pretoria earlier in the year. The team didn’t have enough depth at the post position and if that says that we don’t have depth at our tertiary institutions then all I can say is that the game at senior level is as doomed as it is at junior level. As far as the coaches are concerned, I can guarantee that there is no coach that goes into a big tournament like this with the intention to lose or not do well, so before we criticize the coaches we should ask ourselves if they were given the right material to work with from the start… That my take on the World Student Games where South Africa came 25th out of 25 teams… Better planning from USSA next time might help the teams achieve better.The senior ladies national team, which is mostly made up of students should have also been given a chance to represent the country at the World Student games. But we know it was never going to happen and even after the 2008 USSA tourney in Cape Town, we knew that the ladies were not going. To be honest I don’t even know the real reason why they couldn’t go, some say it’s FISU, some say it’s USSA and some even say BSA but I haven’t received an answer that makes sense on why and how do we make sure they participate at the next one.

Regardless of that the ladies recently had a scheduled camp in Potchefstroom. After qualifying for the African Championships Women in Madagascar with victory over Zimbabwe, the coaching staff has been hard at work trying to get the ladies ready for any eventuality. At the moment, the tournament that was supposed to take place from the 5th to 20th September has apparently been postponed due to unrest in Madagascar. Going back to the Potch camp, rumour has it that the players didn’t get paid for it with BSA promising to do it at the end of the month. Let’s wait and see what transpires…

The senior men national team has been given the run around of late with confusion the order of the day. They were told that they had a camp in Potchefstroom in preparation for the William Jones Cup, then they didn’t have a camp because the tournament was postponed then it wasn’t then we found out that the tournament was in fact still taking place but that SA had pulled out at the last minute… Most of the players and probably coaching staff were perplexed at the situation and didn’t know whether to request leave or not. BSA has been keeping mum on the whole situation with no communication to say what was really going on. The unofficial line was first that the tournament was postponed and when we checked the information online and found out that the tourney was still taking place, the story changed to SA pulled out… Doing some research, I found out online that SA had pulled out of the tournament because the organizers were only going to provide them with accommodation and food while BSA wanted them to fly them out there too, something that they don’t do. But my question is didn’t BSA know this before accepting the invitation to participate? If they did, it would have saved everyone the trouble of the mess that has ensued.

Back to the national team, they have been given a wild card to take part in the African Championships Men in Libya (12th to 22nd August) but like always they will not have enough time to prepare for it and we will end up blaming the players and coaches if they don’t do well. They haven’t had a camp to prepare for this tournament since coach Flosh Ngwenya came back and the tournament is less than a month away, I wonder what miracles can be achieved in such a short period of time. Some players are so unhappy with the situation that they don’t know if they will be given enough notice ahead of the tournament. If BSA needs help they should ask for it, I am sure that there are plenty of people willing to come onboard and help. At the end of the day, SA is made to look bad on the international stage because of last minute changes or preparations that make BSA look so unprofessional.

Article by Victor Shakineza

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There Are 33 Brilliant Comments

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  1. Zoran says:

    For the entire 20 yrs of playing in Serbia I didn’t receive any money and I have trained every day and in some periods twice a day. How did we do it?
    System can be easily applied here and work for the national league.
    It is semi professional system where companies own the clubs providing the facilities, administration, transport as well as employing the players for the normal jobs they are qualified of doing. Players are paid full salary and required to work half time and practice other half. It works better for the players as well because they are employed full time throughout the year and keep their jobs after they finish playing.
    So what we need is the good business plan from the BSA and approach the big national companies.

  2. sipho says:

    ’nuff said brothers, cant anything come out of this forum????

    I’m just afraid that there’s a lot passion(for the game) in this forum but it might be wasted if nothing is done to channel the passion into action.

    Cant this forum be actualized to see if b/ball wont take a few millimeter step ahead!

  3. kim says:

    Hence I have decided to keep silent cos we will forever coming here and talking but how and who should then action ALL these out?It will be forever a TALK SHOW.

  4. Joe says:

    The only way to ensure that all these inputs are considered by BSA is through a Coaches Association. The BSA coaches commission would have been ideal but the fact that it is organised by BSA, I am afraid that it will only serve BSA and not the coaches interests.

    If coaches are prepared I can facilitate the formation of a South African Basketball Coaches Association (SABCA).

  5. kim says:

    And then there was silence……………………………………

    Go for it my brother.I think one thing we must realise is that not all coaches have the priveledge of accessing the World wide web.I would suggest we try and get as many coaches in the loop so as to also get their buy in.Get my email from Vic and lets see how best would we be able to do this.The last thing that we would want is this initiative to be considered a ‘Joe’s thing’.

    I knew this week would end on a gud note.

    Before I forget,I would like to wish Coach Flosh,Kita and Craig ALL the best as they gather to prepare for the upcoming ANC (not ANC)to be held in Libya.One can cry over and over with problems encountered but I hope the focus wont be on the problems but you guys can bring solutions in your quest to compete against Africa’s best.

    I hope the players can give their best and having worked with them earlier this year,hard work will not a problem to these guys.Good luck and as much as we wont be there,if you put your ear on the grounds of Libya,you will surely be able to hear SA’s drumbeats willing you ALL the way to victory.Dont let Gaddafi distract you as he is a very charismatic individual but focus on hitting those libyans for 100 and some change.

    I hope to hear great news about your guys effort and remember how Purto Rico caused an upset in the olympics sometime ago by beating USA filled with Iverson’s and the likes.It can be done,I have the script return in my head.I know who was open for that last shot and showed the rest of Africa his signature DEATH signal.I already know who stood there for the charge for us to get that ball with 10 sec’s left on the clock.

    I Know the dirty workers who dont get credit by made sure we come back from 20 points down to beat Angola and Egypt thus qualifying for the semis.It might seem like a joke to some BUT I BELIEVE.

    Speaking about ANC……remember WORKING TOGETHER YOU CAN DO MORE!

  6. Molupe says:

    Forgive me for coming onto this forum so late. As the head coach of the team to USSA I should have given feedback to the nation a little earlier but work pressures (new job in a new field and two weeks behind) has taken up my time. Even my report on the trip is not finalized.

    Let me make it clear upfront – I loved Serbia and the serious approach to their baksetball. This is a country similar to ours in many regards. Instead of sermonizing I will give you a little of my impressions of what I saw. Thoughts are plenty and so will seem all over the place. Don’t have lots of time.

    On arrival to Serbia the first posters we saw advertizing the Universiade were basketball posters. Our attache, Nenad, who is a basketball player and was Amogelang’s height, got us to plenty places we were not supposed to go to. First was a coaches clinic, an annual Serbian Basketball Coaches Association organized clinic. It had over 200 coaches there with a few from Argentina, Brazil, Iran, etc. These coaches had nothing to do with their Universiade teams. They were sent there specifically for the clinic. Clinic has been running for 8 years. The clinicians were the Serbian senior team head coach, Dusan Ivkovic (a highly respected coach in Serbia and worldwide – check out Wikipedia), Pepu Hernandez (former Spanish Senior Men’s National Team Coach) and Bo Ryan (USA Universiade coach & coach of the Wisconsin Men’s Basketball Team). It was a two day event but we (Coach Quinton R and I) could only stay for 2 sessions (out of about 6). The players used for the clinics were U16/7 players of whom 5 were over 2m tall, with the tallest being about 2.13m (7 foot). These kids could play and some of them, Nenad told us, were playing for the first teams of their clubs. Incidentally this clinic was held at FMP’s basketball academy – a school dedicated to basketball. A wonderful facitlity where we played the Japanese (if you get to see our footage). The who’s who of Serbian coaching was at the clinic taking notes when these coaches were talking the basics, playing without dribbling, good cuts, good shots etc. In further discussion I discovered that coaching in Serbia is structured and organized. There are three coaching levels, Blue, White and Red (Serbian flag colours). You may not coach unless you have one of these licenses. Coach Pat’s accreditation push. Before I further elaborate let me explain the leagues there. There is a mini, U12, U14, U16, U18, 3rd, 2nd, 1st, Serbian National, Superleague, Adriatic League and Euroleague. Zoran can explain better where I have misundertood (translation issues). If you have a blue license (I may have the colours wrong) you can coach at any level. If you have a red license you can coach from mini to Serbian national leagues. If you have white you may only coach to 3rd level. Serbia is in the business of exporting coaches around the world. Also players – some can remember the late Nicola and Boban. In fact I met some guys who knew Boban well and were talking about him.

    Virtually every little corner of Belgrade has an indoor court with wooden floors. Some clubs own 3 or 4 practice facilities. These courts are owned by local businessmen who rent these out to clubs or they are owned by big clubs. There is a club called Hermofarm which has won every single junior European league junior tournament you can think of.

    Serbians take their basketball seriously! They practice daily, often twice a day and sometimes three times a day. Where players do not belong to a club they literally join together and hire a coach to coach them for a while. Pay the coach per session.

    In discussion with various coaches many things became evident. The majority of teams there had played in a serious pre-Universiade tournament. For example, when we had a practice game against the Greeks (who the coach told me was their 3rd best team as the better players were sent to Meditteranean games and to the FIBA U19 champs, where they were second) they had played a three game series with the Germans a few weeks back. (Incidentally the German Univerisade coach lives in the Bluff. Craig G, please send me your email and I will forward his email ad). When we got to Belgrade the USA, Russia, Canada and Serbian men’s teams were playing a 4-team tournament. Serbian people PAID to watch this tournament and where Serbia played the place was full – about 5,000 people! So these were serious tournaments with awards & medals etc.

    Incidentally the Serbian national team to participate in the European Nations had 4 slots reserved for players from the Universiade team. Continuity. The Serbian coach of the Universiade team coached some of these players 2 years ago when they were U22 and is the assistant coach of the senior national team squad. Continuity!

    There were three distinct styles of play – European, American and a combination thereof. The European style involves lots of movement, passing, cutting, screening, making the outside shot and a strong focus on effort on the defensive end. If you thought that Europeans cannot defend then you better watch the way the Serbians play. In fact, a local example of the European style of play is the Angolan senior men’s team. Aha, now I understood why many African teams battle with Angola – European style. The Americans were masters at the fast break, at dribble penetration and extremely athletic. The Japanese team played this style incredibly well and were super fit. The team that played the combination style well was Israel. We have to play all these styles of play regularly! We also need to develop these various styles within the nation.

    The SA players fought their backsides off. There are a number of players who, if we take care of properly, will be national icons and assets. However, apart from height issues there are numerous technical things that we have to fix in SA. Passing, cutting, screening, defending screens, transition defense, not over-helping on defense, timing on offense, SHOOTING, playing more physically, refs reffing international style, etc. We the coaches have a lot of work ahead of us. This past Sunday I took my daughters to watch a game – Egoli Magic vs Braam Blues. I could not watch for more than 5 minutes because all the problems seen in that 5 minutes. Depressing specifically because some of the players in our top teams have the build and the talent to do well. A little exercise for you. Go watch our teams play this weekend and see how many great cuts (timing, speed, etc) and shots you see. Watch our transition defense and see how alert and quick it is. Look at our fast breaks and count the number of dribbles/passes we take from one end of the court to the other. Count the number of screens we set and how we defend those. Watch the eyes of our players, offensively and defensively and see how they are glued to the ball to the exclusion of everything else. See how confident and comfortable our ballhandling is, etc, etc etc. We coaches have a LOT of work ahead of us.

    I did not get to watch many ladies games – 3 games (UK (coached by Tom Maher)/China, Pol/Cze & finals USA/RUS). A few thoughts on the ladies side of things. Mozambique lost every single game they played – just like us. And I think they had three of their senior national team members playing close to 40 minutes per game in virtually all the games. Every good team had about 3 or 4 women in the 1.95m range. Some had taller players. In fact one time we were walking with the US women’s team and they were the same height as our men’s team. In terms of bulk there were a number bigger than our players. Just ask the players who were there and they will tell you the same. So, let us not fool ourselves. It will be tough BUT we need our ladies to learn, participate and grow!

    On my way back home I killed a few hours at the airport just studying and analyzing stats of the U19 tournament recently. Why? Because these are the next set of players in future Universiades and Senior national teams etc. The challenges ahead of us are plenty. Let me throw a few stats at you. Teams there typically took between 63 and 72 shots per game. Of these between 17 and 27 were 3s. Put differently, between 25% and 41% of shots taken were 3s. Average heights were typically around 1.98m with most teams having at least 4 players above 2m. In virtually every competion that we had in July, African countries fared poorly (bar Egypt in the U19 championships – 11th). So, to improve we need to be top 2 or 3 in Africa so that we can play other nations in the world. That is a challenge we are faced with.

    Another challenge. The Universiade games are typically held a little while after our exams. How are we going to attain and maintain fitness? How will we keep players sharp? These are things that we need to plan differently for.

    I have plenty more thoughts, observations, ideas etc. There are things I am doing to experiment and try to fix some of the issues I have seen (eg yesterday had an entire practice where I did not want the ball to hit the floor, more screening to be run and taught, etc). If you see me we can talk some more.

    To the senior team to Libya – good luck. I have heard that Libya have hired a US coach for an obscene amount of money and have naturalized a number of good players to bolster their team. True or not? I do not know…

    Viva SA basketball! Aluta Continua!

  7. kim says:

    I knew that the week was REALLY going to end on a HIGH note.I am itching just to go to the drawing board as we speak.

    Thanks for the feedback but as you say its toooo short and will ensure we meet to get the low down of all these issues.I compared the stats to that of the 1999 team and 2001,we did better than when we started and how I WISH AND HOPE that USSA can maintain consistency with atleast 1 or both coaches being part of the next tournament or else we will forever learn with no results.Programmes,growth etc will depend on what structures are formed by US coaches.I have stopped putting everything on BSA……NOW ITS UP TO US!

  8. Lesego Molebatsi says:

    Hi Coaches

    Need a player I can send over to the states ( full scholarship). Needs to be 6′7 or taller, can play the 3 & 4. He can be straight out of high school or between the ages of 18 and 20 years.

    Please holla if you have anybody in mind.