A Somewhat Serious Look At The Summer of 2001
Best Fans: I have to give it to the fans from the Oakland Slam and Jam. In most places in the country, people wearing camouflage and chanting "soldiers" would be arrested for inciting a riot. These folks were great and I have to tell you, they kept their team pumped up. … Honorable mention goes to the mothers of various players for the Tim Thomas Playaz. They had good gear, were knowledgeable and only abused the referees when they truly deserved it.
Best Gear: Tough category.
A. Outerwear Division: I'd have to say the lightweight fleece pullovers donned by the Florida Gators staff were impressive. They were the perfect articles of clothing for the frigid gym in Augusta, Ga. Honorable mention goes to Notre Dame's Anthony Solomon for his simple, yet stylish navy fleece with the golden Notre Dame logo.
B. Polo shirt division: Chris Collins' navy blue Duke polo with the words "2001 National Champions" inscribed on the chest takes top honors. Honorable mention: Rob Moxley of Charlotte had some cool polos as well. The color scheme was terrific and the logos were cutting edge.
C. Sneakers: New Cincinnati assistant coach Andy Kennedy's kicks were easily the loudest pair of sneakers we saw an assistant wear all summer. Bold and trendy, the perfect attraction for today's youth. Honorable mention to UNC's Doug Wojcik for his "Ocean Mist" style Nike Prestos.
D. Headwear: Hats were not in this year and rarely are on the summer circuit, but the white Texas hat Longhorns assistant Frank Haith sported was pretty cool. Honorable mention to Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson for the straw golf hat look, which is his own unique summer recruiting touch.
F. Multi-purpose shirt: Texas assistant Brian Cousins wore what appeared to be a Longhorns baseball jersey. The only thing it was missing was his name and number on the back. Honorable mention goes to Miami assistant Greg Gary for his football jersey-style Hurricanes shirt.
G. Overall Best Dressed Assistant: Tough call between Mississippi's Wayne Brent and Maryland's Dave Dickerson. These two are GQ all the time.
Best Hairdo: Memphis YOMCA's Dwayne Lee is the runaway winner here. Lee's retro-ABA afro was as tall as it was wide. It was deeper than the ruff at the last U.S. Open and big enough to hide teammate Clyde Wade in it.
Best Attempt At A Jason Williams Impersonation: "White Chocolate" he's not but Tim Doyle of the Long Island Panthers did his best Jason Williams impersonation. The charismatic Doyle was the guy with the ball in his hands at the end of the Panthers' game that sealed the Big Time title. In a series of dribbles and moves that cannot be explained by humans, Doyle held his own impromptu audition for the Harlem Globetrotters. Tim, what were you thinking?
AAU Coach Most Likely To Get Tossed: This award goes to the only guy who openly lobbies to get ejected from games. It doesn't matter if he's playing on the east coast or west coast, Belmont Shores head coach Dinos Triginos always has something to say, a case to plead or a beef to take up with an official. We hear he's on double-secret probation at every tournament he attends.
Best Uniforms: Generally, it was a solid fashion year for the top AAU programs. It was a year that saw Chris Grier's Michigan Hurricanes roll out the light blue unis and Mac Irvin dumped the traditional red and black Illinois Fire outfits. However, the pick for best uniforms is the Charlotte Aces dark uniforms. The perfect blend of purple, orange and white.
Worst Uniforms: I thoroughly enjoyed watching the Warrick County boys play. However, those uniforms were straight of out the Rick Mount Era in Indiana. While the Charlotte Aces proved purple can be a good uniform color, Warrick County stands as the exception. The person responsible for thinking purple, orange and old gold go well together thinks a little differently than I do. To each his own. Honorable mention goes to D.C. Assault. They rolled out new uniforms with a great color scheme but there was a major problem. The word "Assault" was spelled incorrectly on the front of the jerseys and they will be redone free of charge for the boys from D.C.
Best Concentration of Prospects: Easy choice: Hard Rock Café in Las Vegas. There isn't a better spot on this planet for a single guy to evaluate talent. Anyone who has been there knows exactly what I mean.
Strangest Occurrence: The incident took place at the Las Vegas airport while waiting for an elderly woman to exit the same rental car shuttle that I was on. Upon stopping the shuttle bus, this woman stood up to exit. However, when she stood up, her pants fell down to her ankles and she was standing there, well, in her underwear in no particular hurry to cover herself up. I'm not making this up. I have witnesses to this one. If I had a video camera, I'd be $10,000 richer.
Busted: A certain recruiting analyst, appearing as if he was in a red-eye induced coma, walked into the women's bathroom on Court No. 6 at Disney's Wide World of Sports. The perpetrator calmly walked out of the bathroom, deftly looked around to see if anyone had seen him and headed for his seat in the stands. He did the right things in the situation as he acted coolly and played it off well. Only one person, Tennessee Tech assistant John Shulman, can actually confirm that this happened. This one is a classic.
Most Popular Recruiting Tactic: We'll call this one the "Baseline Switch." It's really a simple tactic with a simple purpose. The goal is to be seen the most by the prospect you are recruiting. How coaches pull this off is easy. For whatever reason, they believe that the prospect will see them more when he is on offense. So, to get the most visibility possible, coaches will stand along the baseline – as close to the basket as possible – and watch the game.
At halftime, the coach then completes the switch part of the process and heads to the other end of the court as the teams change sides. Some halftimes are short so getting from one end of a crowded gym isn't always easy especially when onlookers and other friends in the coaching fraternity are impeding your progress. The Big Time halftimes were short and posed particular problems for coaches.
A bonus in using this tactic is the out of bounds ball. If a coach happens to catch an errand pass out of bounds, he can simply flip it to the prospect of his choice, give him a quick wink and insure that he's been seen which is after all, the purpose of using the "Baseline Switch" technique in the first place.
Best Airport: Raleigh-Durham. Easy access all the time and it's home base.
Worst Airport: A repeat winner. Congrats to the staff at Newark Airport just outside of New York City. Alabama assistant Orlando Early reportedly is still looking for the bus that is supposed to take you from the terminal to your rental car station.
Best Meal: The buffet at Mandalay Bay was cost effective ($17.95) and very good. The line moved quickly and there was quite a variety of selections to choose from. The Southwest Chicken was excellent.
Worst Meal: The $4.50 burgers at Disney's Wide World of Sports. It's everything a $4.50 burger shouldn't be. The condiment selection leaves something to be desired.
Flashiest AAU Dressers: Hands down, the outfits Long Island Panthers coach Gary Charles sported the final two days in Vegas were above and beyond the call of the required dress code for AAU coaches. His Cab Calloway rendition with the sporty shoes, gray slacks and yellow shirt combined with the jazzy nightclub hat was his best effort. Special mention to Memphis YOMCA coach Haywood Anderson for his toned down silk shirts and stylish pants. He's worthy of mention in this category.
Shot of the Summer: Andre Iguodala's 3 to send the Illinois Warriors into the finals at the AAU Nationals was incredible.
Team of the Summer: Tie: Long Island Panthers and Team Texas. The Panthers won three major events and Team Texas nabbed two. You couldn't pick between the two because there's no way one can take away from what these boys accomplished this summer.
Clearly, someone had too much time in between flights.
Hope you enjoyed the summer coverage!