SE: Weber at Work for USA Basketball
SE: Weber at Work for USA Basketball
June 6, 2012
By Mark Janssen
Bruce Weber is taking a break from Kansas State basketball to help the basketball cause for the United States of America.
Currently in Colorado Springs, Colo., at the United States Olympic Training Center, Weber is joining head coaches Roy Williams (North Carolina), Jim Boeheim (Syracuse) and Lorenzo Romar (Washington) on the selection committee for the USA Under-18 team that will be announced at the end of the week.
“I’ve been on the college committee for four years, and to be a part of this and represent the United States, and to be around the best coaches in the game is a great honor,” said Weber, who first got involved in USA basketball as an assistant to Gene Keady when coaching at Purdue. “This is my fourth year of selecting teams, but my goal is to get back and coach a USA team.”
Because of it being an Olympic year, there are fewer USA teams than normal this summer. The U-18 team will play on June 16-20 in four games against professional teams in Sao Sebastiao do Paraiso, Brazil.
Twenty-four players are trying out for the 12 positions. The team will be coached by head coach Billy Donovan (Florida), plus assistants Mark Few (Gonzaga) and Shaka Smart (Virginia Commonwealth).
“It will be important for them to learn to play together as a team in a short amount of time,” said Donovan. “We need to demonstrate great focus and teamwork, and bring a high level of energy and effort every day in order to have success.”
Asked whether he sees great basketball players, or great athletes playing basketball at such a tryout, Weber said, “With good teams, you have good basketball players that are great athletes. I understand the question because if you ask any coach around the country, they’re going to be concerned about skill development.
“Kids play a lot of games today, and that’s good, but only to a point,” said Weber. “Too much beef is not good. Too much candy for a person is not good. You can overdo too many games to the point you’re not developing your skill-set.”
Weber then used the San Antonio Spurs of the NBA as a team with great basketball skills.
“They don’t get the attention of some other teams with flashy players, but all they do is win,” said Weber. “Good teams have players who are great athletes, but they also have kids who are fundamentally sound.”
With the 2012 U-18 team, Weber simply said, “If we’re going to win, you better have some skills. If you don’t have that skill-set, you’re not going to win.”
Weber went on to admit that today’s international teams “… may not have the athletes we do, but as pure basketball players, some international teams may be better skilled.”
The new Wildcat coach then related a story about holding a clinic in Turkey where players were in school in the morning, in the gym for an hour at noon working on shooting, came back after afternoon classes for a weight workout, and were back in the gym that night.
“They were practicing three times in a day when coaches back home at the high school and college level are restricted on the number of hours we can work with kids,” said Weber. “That’s why you see the gap closing and the number for foreign players coming to the United States.”
Weber then saluted the work of Jerry Colangelo (Chairman of the Board of USA Basketball) in the NBA, and coach Mike Krzyzewski for trying to “… create teams that will play together and with guys who really want to play, and who have the best skills they want to put to use in a team basketball setting.”
While having a more blue-collar team at Southern Illinois, but a team with more star-type players at Illinois, Weber said the coaching of this range of talent does not change.
What has changed in the game, he says, “… is the scrutiny of everything. Everything is judged. Fifteen years ago you didn’t have all the Facebook stuff, the Twitter and the talk radio. I like to say that those are all areas of opinions without a face. The kids haven’t changed that much, but that’s where everything has changed.”
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