AZ vs. Cali? No contest.
I know this won't be a popular topic, and should stir some incredibly passionate responses on the message boards, but I'm only starting it to see if someone can help me understand why.
AZ hoops is lacking.
I mean really behind.
I just spent the weekend in Cali, at the Torrey Pines Holiday Classic, a San Diego tourney that's been going strong for 14 years, and a tournament in which both Dobson and Salpointe are entered, and undefeated through two games each.
And the more I watched, the more I realized what a different level California basketball is on.
I know that there are roughly 5 times as many people in California as there are in AZ, and I know there are more than four times as many high schools.
But there were more legitimate D1 prospects from just the San Diego schools than there are in the entire state of Arizona. Now understand, I'm not trying to dis anybody. But it goes like this...
We get into discussions all the time like "Could an All-Star small ball squad beat an All Star big ball squad" and "Could an All Star Tuscon Team beat an All Star Phoenix team." These are fun lively discussions that have valid viewpoints on both sides.
But I'm here to tell you that an All Star AZ squad couldn't compete, and I mean compete, with an all star San Diego team. Or LA, or the Bay Area, or possibly even Bakersfield. There are individual schools in Cali that could run with, and maybe beat, a best of AZ squad.
How is this possible?
That's the question of the day.
How is it possible that I saw more D1 recruits in 5 games at the Torrey Pines tournament than I can watch in AZ ALL YEAR? It's not right. There are teams in that tournament getting blown out by 30 and 40 and 50 that would be Top 5 in Arizona 5A right now. Sure there are the Mater Deis and the De La Salle's that recruit, but Eisenhower certainly doesn't, and that squad, which is yet to win a game, would be top 10 with a bullet in AZ.
I have a theory.
It's just like a house, it starts with the foundation. Often times on the boards we rip high school coaches and programs, but I think we need to look a little closer, or more to the point younger.
It starts when they are kids. I have never watched or seen an AZ youth basketball game, and I have a feeling I'd never want to.
It's the only possible explanation I can come up with. The youth ball must lack quality programs here. AZ shouldn't have as many great players as California, but the ratio shouldn't be as lopsided as it is now.
Teach the children. It all starts with the kids. If you're a player right now, and you've got a kid brother (or sister for that matter), bring them to the court with you. Shoot hoops, show them good form, work on their ball handling, emphasize free throw shooting, rebounding technique, put them through passing drills. Do it today, and then tomorrow, and then three more days next week. Work with the youth, and then maybe AZ hoops will start earning the respect they so desperately want.
It's not the water. It's not some sort of environmental factor that makes the Cali kids better. What we in AZ have to do is figure out what it is and fix it. I'm not saying that I know I'm right and that the youth ball out here is in the stoneage, I'm saying its a theory, and until I hear a better one it's the one I'm going with.
I'll be out at McClintock Monday and Tuesday night, and I hope to watch some well played, competitive basketball. But I know one thing right away, the next time I want to see truly great high school hoops, I'll have to head west.
Lets talk about it on the message boards!