Here's a quick update from Coach Smith of the Jayhawks on how the team has grown this spring and how they work on player development even during tournament season.
GREAT SUCCESS TO START THE SEASON
"The spring season has been going well so far. We’ve played in 10 tournaments, have been in seven championship games, and have won six of those championship games. We are a U12 team, and when we play in-state (Florida) we play up, in the U13 division. When we play out of state, we play in our own age division. Out of state we have played in a tournament in Maryland and the John Lucas All-Star Event in New Orleans, where we finished in third place.
"The plan for the rest of the summer is to go to a few tournaments locally, two more Disney tournaments, a district championship for U12 and U13. Then we are planning to go the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions in Atlanta and two National Championship tourneys."
DEVELOPING AS A TEAM AND AS INDIVIDUAL PLAYERS
"The goal for the team is to develop as individuals and as a team. We’ve always had the mentality of 'We Never Stop.' The season technically ends in July, but we still keep practicing afterwards. Once the season starts, our goal is to see development from all our players.
"We have 13 kids on the team and every single one plays. We rotate five players in and five players out. When we rotate our substitutions in, our philosophy is that we don’t lose anything. That way every kid is playing, getting game time, and developing.
"We have one team practice a week but our head coach is a personal skills trainer, and we also have three individual training sessions a week that most of the players attend. We really want to fine-tune the key skills with players of this age.
"We like our big men to be able to handle the ball, we don’t want to limit any players. You don’t want to limit a kid at this age just because he’s big. Everyone on this team can handle the ball and that’s a strength. We’re able to play fast because our guards can handle the ball with ease and our big men can dribble too.
"To develop this, we do a lot of two-ball work - tons of it. If you can handle two balls, you should be able to handle one. And a lot of that is done in the individual training."
BIGGEST DEVELOPMENT: MENTAL TOUGHNESS
"The biggest development for our team from last year to this year is Mental Toughness.Skill-wise our players are pretty skilled, but what we found was when we went out of state, was that the basketball was totally different. Our players would back down a little bit. We would go into environments where the crowds were a little rowdy, and it would intimidate our team. But this year our players have matured and grown up, and we aren’t backing down anymore."