Tomorrow the SHORE CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT really kicks off. People will be talking not be talking about winning meaningless summer and fall games. The seeding debates will be old news. Some will compare scores as if that matters now and debate who has the best team, or coach. It’s all fun and exciting, it makes for great conversations. This year could be a SCT of upsets and broken hearts…THE REAL QUESTION IS DOES YOU TEAM HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO WIN THE HARDEST GIRLS BASKETBALL TITLE IN NEW JERSEY AND MAYBE THE COUNTRY.
DO YOU HAVE A STAR THAT CAN CARRY YOUR TEAM– There is no question a number of STAR players that can take a team out by themselves. Manasquan has three mega stars, who on any night can carry them. Tori Hyduke can send a team home single handily. Jenna Paul and Lucy Thomas can take over a game. Shannon McCoy can take out a team all by herself in the early rounds. A healthy Karmari Reynolds fits the bill. Stars carry a team, when they are struggling. The real question is can your star take over games with her defense, passing or rebounding as well. Can your star put your team on her back and carry your team home from this point forward. Can your star carry you? More importantly does you team believe in its star?
Can your team go to its bench and still win? When it comes to using the bench, Dawn Karpell is the gold standard. She creates roles for all of her players. They all play big in big games and their roles don’t change based on the opponent. All are battle tested and play their roles to a “T” and are ALWAYS READY. The SJV bench is talented, but more importantly, Dawn Karpell and she is not afraid to use it.…THEY ALL KNOW THIS. Who do you have coming off the bench to change the game? St. Rose has the most lethal weapon in the event coming off the bench in Lauren Lithgow. She is capable of carrying Manasquan in games from the bench. Somebody is going to run into foul trouble or an injury. Somebody is going to have a bad shooting night, somebody is going to get be sick. When this happens, your teams bench is either going to shine or be exposed. Has your bench been used in big spots this year? The SCT is not a place to start finding out if they are ready…that ship has long sailed!
DO YOU HAVE SHOOTERS? Sorry…if you don’t have shooters…you are not winning the SCT… nothing is more important in this Tournament. I’m talking, when your team is struggling to get buckets, you better have a shooter that can get you those unscripted points. Donovan Catholic has shooters on top of shooters. A great shooter like Hayley Moore can single handily knock you out of this tournament. If a Hayley Moore or a Molly Collins get on a roll, they could send your team packing. There is a flip-side to shooters though. They can also shoot you out of this tournament as well. If there is one thing I am 100% sure of…it’s this…Somebody is going to have to knock down big shots to win the SCT, and I’m not just talking one shot…Do you have a knock it down shooter who has played in the meat of BIG games that matter?
DO YOU HAVE A STOPPER?This is the most underrated player in this event. History has shown a stopper can change this entire event. Do you have a player to cool down a hot Tori Hyduke, Dara Mabrey, Brielle Bigsono. Do you have a defender that can shut down a Mullaney or Jenna Paul. What about in the post, can you cool off a Faith Masonious, Lucy Thomas and Dakota Adams. You think you have a matchup for Shannon McCoy when she gets rolling. You better have answer because somebody is going to get rolling against your team…the questions is can you shut the door on them, when they do? Dara Mabrey is the ultimate stopper, Amanda Johnson of TRN is a classic stopper because she can close the door on big’s and guards. Baby Sophia Sabino is already a serious stopper. But the best stopper in the state plays at RBC…her name is Katie Rice. Who is your stopper? If you don’t have one, forget winning this event.
DO YOU HAVE A CLOSER? Nobody is sailing though the tournament, closers close quarters and games. Manasquan may have the best of all time and certainly the best in the business these days, in DARA MABREY. Now here is something, I learned a long time ago. Throw out shooting and free throw shooting percentage until the last 2 minutes OF A CLOSE GAME. If they missed the big ones in big games, during the season…they are missing in the SCT. Closer’s don’t turn the ball over or make bad decisions late. You have a closer? Now be honest, do you trust your closer? Because if you don’t, secretly your team does not trust them either. Does your closer know when to pass and when to shoot? Do you have a player who thinks they are a closer, they take the shot but can’t make it. You know guts don’t matter unless they can make the shot. Remember your closer is not always your best player or even a player. A closer can be a coach, Lisa Kudoda right now is one of the best closer’s in the business. Her teams are shockingly great at the end of games and quarters. Joe Montano forget it, if he gets a chance to close…its a wrap. Now here is something everyone forgets…sometimes your closer never gets the chance to close, because in order to close you need to be in the game late with a lead. The SCT is not the place to try and find a closer….
THE BABY FACTOR, ARE YOU READY? Now don’t tell me how good your babies played this year. I don’t care about their stats. I want to know what your babies did against the real teams. Did they see real time in the games that determined your season and seeding. No babies had more responsibility than Sophia Sabino against real competition. Don’t tell me about a play or shot a baby made in a game. Tell me what you babies did in the heat of big games. Now is your baby are a big part of the team, can you count on them to WIN IT, if need be? Manchester has a baby, the has proven she can carry them in big games in DESTINY ADAMS. If your babies have put up good numbers in blow-outs, but have zero numbers in the big games…don’t expect them to all of a sudden blow up in this event, this event has real killers. What’s the status of your babies? If they have to go from role player to prime time player can they do it?…can your baby do this?
SENIORS, ARE YOUR READY? If your team is not loaded with seniors your team’s job just got a little harder. But if you have seniors, they must have experienced success in big spots along the way. Winning a big game or tournament can’t be new to them. RBC has 3 seniors and they’re good…as in real good, but they have no rings. St Rose has 3 of the best seniors in the state and they got rings. Donavan Catholic has seniors, who have been trying to get over the hump for years, this is their last chance. The SJV seniors have seen and won everything there is to win. TRN has Amanda Johnson and Manasquan has the best senior in the event in Dara Mabrey. Having battle tested seniors is something that gives you a real edge in these events. Seniors don’t panic and they play with a passion when they know the end is in sight… What about your seniors? Are they ready?
CAN YOU TEAM HANDLE THE PRESSURE? SJV, may be the favorite but they know all eyes are on them, anything but the title will be disappointing. MANCHESTER has had a monster season, but a quick exit will take the shine off a great season. St. Rose knows that anything less than a title will be disappointing. Jess Broad and Marlboro are playing with house money. But a early exit would take any shine off their season. RBC knows this could be the year. RFH need to get to the quarter finals who the season just won’t feel right. Manasquan knows people only expect one thing and that’s a SCT title. TRN must make a deep run or they will be called a season of hype. All this adds up to pressure, can you team handle that pressure that comes with trying to win the SCT?
Does your coach have a track record of success? These games are going to be tight and somebody is going to win it or lose it, based on a decision from the sidelines. Will your coach give your team and edge with the officials? Your coach better not panic and they better have those new offensive sets, out of bounds plays and new trapping defenses all ready to go for the SCT. Your coach better have some new stuff to throw at opponent’s, because everyone knows everyone right now. You coach got some new stuff? Your coach better not start over coaching and trying to be the star. Your coach better be prepared coming out of time outs and last second situations. Now possessions really matter, because these game are going to be close. How are your rotations? They better be set and everyone better know, when they are playing. Too late to start changing now folks…you are who you are. In the end these games are going to come down to how your coach handles the pressure at the end of the games…they will need to make all the right moves! Your coach ready to do this? Your coach ready for the surprises, bad calls and the heat of the spotlight?
HOW IS YOUR TEAM PLAYING GOING INTO THE SCT? How is your team playing these days? Are all the players on your team on the same page. Do you have players who think this is their chance to shine. You know trying to steal the spotlight, taking shots they have not taken all year. Does you team feel good about themselves going into the SCT? Donovan Catholic is red hot, Long Branch is feeling good…. Don’t team me who you beat or who you lost to…tell me HOW IS YOUR TEAM PLAYING RIGHT NOW…because now is not the time to find yourself.
The bottom line is that nobody the overwhelming favorite going into the SCT. But somebody is going to face every one of these obstacles before a champion is crowned. The team that handles these challenges the best is going to be our winner. Right now I BELIEVE the TOP 4 TEAMS HAVE the best chance to pull it off. But know this, each of those teams will face a real challenge trying to make it to the SCT FINAL.
POINT GUARD SCHOOL TODAY AND EVERY MONDAY 5.30 PM