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Many local players lack basketball skills

As the 2011-12 high school basketballseason winds down, this column wishes to make some observationsabout the shortage of roundball skills in the area. First of all, it is remarkable howpoorly some of these teams shoot free throws. All it takes ispractice.

    Also surprising is the lack of ball-handling skills shown by manyguards, forwards and centers. These youngsters should have beenable to dribble with either hand and make sharp passes to theirteammates when they stepped up from junior high to high school.

    For some varsity players, it is difficult for them to chew gum anddribble the ball at the same time. Golly gee, whatever happened towise junior high basketball coaches who were versed in teachingfundamentals?

    Learning basic basketball skills should be a priority in juniorhigh. The winning will come later. It’s important that all theplayers see game action. It makes all that practice timeworthwhile. A junior high coach shouldn’t be on an ego trip, usingit as a stepping stone to a better job.

    Junior high programs feed the high schools. There should be a deepconnection and mutual respect between the varsity and junior highcoaches. In some cases, the high school coaches also direct thejunior high teams. That’s a positive in most instances.

    In many schools across the Magnolia State, there is a lot ofinteraction between the high school and junior high programs.”Coach, I want your kids to know how to play defense, run myoffense, shoot the ball, dribble  and pass it before I see them in mygym, or else.”

    Sound like a threat?

    It should be. A high school coach’s livelihood depends on wins andlosses. They get more victories if the junior high program is onsolid ground.

    Another sore spot is lack of teamwork and lack of communicationbetween the players. Yours truly was so distressed after watchingone varsity girls game, he considered calling them the Lady Zombiesin his article.

    Unfortunately, we don’t have an unlisted home phone number so thattemptation was placed on the back burner. Besides, that particularteam would receive relentless verbal persecution from theirschoolmates.

    Another incident flabbergasted me. When the home team’s point guardwas tripped up and made a face-first splat on the floor, theplayer’s  teammates gaveher a glazed, indifferent look and made no effort to help her up.Surprisingly, an opposing player reached out a helping hand duringthe heat of battle.

    Back in the old-school days, players used to support theirteammates.  Through thegood times and the bad times, they were a unit, playing together,playing for each other.

    Usually, the teams that play together win the most games.

    High school sports aren’t professional. Players are supposed to becompeting for the love of the game. They’re not supposed to bepuppets controlled by their parents. Basketball would be moreenjoyable if the players possess the basic fundamental skills.

    For sure, Lincoln County’s talent level has been in a mediocrecycle in recent years. If you doubt that fact, just take a look atCopiah-Lincoln Community College’s basketball rosters. There are nolocal players on the women’s roster and the men’s team has fourplayers from Lincoln County, all freshmen.

    It has been four years since a local player signed a senior collegebasketball scholarship.


    The first All-Star Baseball Camp at Brookhaven Academy is scheduledSaturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Registration begins at 9:30.Pre-registration this week will be held at Sullivan Ford. The campstaff will teach fundamentals to youngsters age 7-15. Entry fee is$50.

    Catcher Kolby Byrd, a Brookhaven Academy graduate and a member ofthe St. Louis Cardinals organization, will be among sixprofessional baseball players on hand for the camp.  Todd McInnis, a pitcher in theCardinals organization and USM’s all-time winningest pitcher, willbe among the instructors. Robert Carson of the New York Mets, aleft-handed pitcher who throws it 100 miles per hour;and  Alonzo Harris ofMcComb,  a utility playerwith  the Mets, will bepresent. Also expected to be on hand are  Colin Cargill, a pitcher with theFlorida Marlins, and Tyler Kelly of the Minnesota Twins. Kelly wonthe Boo Farris Award for Southern Miss.

    There’s no rain in the forecast for Saturday so it should be achilly, bluebird day for baseball. T-shirts  will be given to the campers, plusother items.  An autographsession will run from 1-1:30 p.m.

    Franklin County resident and professional baseball scout James O.Covington is the camp director.

    Byrd signed with Mississippi State University out of high schooland was redshirted as a freshman. He starred for Co-Lin last seasonbefore getting drafted in the 13th round of last June’s MajorLeague Baseball Draft. He spent last summer playing for the JohnsonCity, Tenn. Cardinals.

    Byrd reports March 5, for spring training with the Cardinals inJupiter, Fla., preseason home of the 2011 World Serieschampions.

    “I’m getting excited about camp,”  said Byrd. The Johnson City team,winners of the Class A Appalachian League, will receive theirchampionship rings during a ceremony at Jupiter.

    Deer season has concluded so Byrd, an avid hunter and fisherman, isdevoting most of his time to lifting weights, running, hitting andthrowing. He said he bagged three trophy deer this season.


    Contact sports editor Tom Goetz by Email:tgoetz@dailyleader.com