Count me in too. I am planning to start writing a dynasty as I will be looking to fill my time in the evenings and weekends for the next 3 months as I will be away from home. I have enjoyed this series. Good luck hiring those assistants.
So...several years ago, I was looking around for a good baseball sim and I somehow stumble upon Even the Braves...now I look around for a basketball sim and what do I find...another amazing Petrel dynasty...what are the odds?
Anyway, amazing job, again! My apologies if this is someone else with the same user name on a completely different forum that puts out amazing dynasties, but I just can't believe that's the case.
It was schedule time once again. Over the course of the year, we had been putting together a list of teams that we wanted to play. You might ask, "seeing as how the elite teams kicked your asses, why on earth would you want to play them again?"
The answer is that it's not as if we make the schedule in three days. On the contrary, a schedule is made over a long period of negotiation. The previous year we only managed to win one two of our non-conference games last year - wins against Eastern Kentucky and at Utah State. (That was better than the lone victory in the first year I was coach.)
OUr big problem was beating anyone with a winning record. We only beat one team with a winning record in 2012-13 but the win was over our archrival South Dakota State. We also got our first Summit League playoff win and we took conference champ Oakland to triple overtime. We hoped for better things for the 2013-14 season.
I did do something interesting this year. Just before the end of the classes last year, I spoke to the entire time.
"This year," I said, "I'm going to ask for your input in making the schedule. There are two ways that we can go. We can make sure that each of you gets a game near your hometown, if it's at all possible. Or, we can take one special trip a year and visit, say, New York or Florida or California."
The team thought about it. Since many players were from South Dakota, visiting their hometown didn't mean much. They chose the option for the "special trip" which won overwhelmingly.
Therefore, we scheduled a game against St. Francis (NY), a weak sauce team from the Northeast Conference. The reason for scheduling SFU was that the team was located in Brooklyn Heights, and we would have spend a Thanksgiving vacation together in New York City. A lot of the team had never been to NYC; it would be a big trip for them.
We also had the second of our home-and-away series against Sam Houston State. I never liked home-and-away series but I needed to fill the schedule a year ago and I had to agree to it. Traveling to Texas in the middle of the Summit League season would be a distraction on many levels.
This year, we tried to stay close to home. St. Francis and Sam Houston were really our biggest trips. We'd have to spend virtually the entire month of December on the road, but the other Big Ten schools were paying us a lot of money to come visit and the program needed the cash. The big trip would concluded with a visit to the 2011 National Champions, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
My goal had been to give the team some time off during Christmas. However, we had a hole in our schedule and Minnesota wanted to schedule a game after Christmas. I asked the team if they wanted to go - the yesses outweighed the noes, but I heard that there was some ill feeling afterwards. In future years, I would warn my teams never to expect to be home either on Thanksgiving or on Christmas - they were Division I college ballplayers, and sacrifices had to be made.
2013-14 SOUTH DAKOTA COYOTES Schedule Date Opponent Record RPI Result Score Record -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 11/16/13 North Dakota 0-0 77 11/23/13 at St. Francis-NY 0-0 239 11/26/13 Detroit 0-0 151 11/30/13 Milwaukee 0-0 155 12/03/13 Eastern Illinois 0-0 243 12/10/13 at Missouri 0-0 51 12/14/13 at Wyoming 0-0 229 12/17/13 at #15 Illinois State 0-0 214 12/21/13 at Purdue 0-0 103 12/26/13 at Minnesota 0-0 98 12/28/13 at Michigan State 0-0 97 12/31/13 at #4 Notre Dame 0-0 63 01/30/14 at Sam Houston State 0-0 301
It was time for the two new freshmen to arrive on campus. We still didn't have a recruiting coach.
Isabella Crumley was finally on campus. I could tell during the introduction to the summer training sessions that the other players were going to be very slow to warm up to her - they didn't want her here but I overruled them. (I'm starting to think that was a mistake.)
She had her jersey #5 reserved for her, in honor of her little brother who died. But coming to South Dakota got her out of her house - that was a good thing, the place was practically a shrine to that dead kid and it had to have a negative influence on her. On the other hand, Isabella hooked up immediately with Anzhelika Bure, our "Kissin' Russian". I suspected that with those two around, no fraternity mixer on campus was safe. Both of them were on the prowl for guys.
Sarah Alex was always interesting. She was a hard worker, but one place she'd never be a superstar was in the classroom. I didn't know if she had no talent for it, or just didn't care. Which is an odd thing to be scared of, because she was one of these absolutely fearless players who would take on a 6-6 girl in the post and wasn't terrified of taking an elbow to the coconut.
She was very neat - physically neat, not a hair out of place - and very humble. You would try to praise her and her next comment would be a denial of some sort. She was very much like Catalina Stewart, but Fluttershy - our name for Stewart - was very quiet. Alex was humble - but she wasn't quiet. There's a difference.
(* * *)
#14 Jessica Bing - SG (5-10) - Zwickau, Germany
Strengths: vertical leap
Weaknesses: jump shooting, 3-point shooting, passing, dribbling, post defense, perimeter defense, steals, blocks
#1 Jillian Ho - PG (5-6) - Newell, SD
Weaknesses: jump shooting, post defense, steals
Interests: Tapophilia (the enjoyment of cemetaries !)
#42 Analia Williams - C (6-3) - Canton, SD
Weaknesses: 3-point shooting, passing, offensive rebounding, steals, blocks, stamina
#33 Caroline Harrington - C (6-5) - Winchester, VA
Weaknesses: Perimeter defense, steals, stamina
Interest: College football
#20 Abigail Merkle - PF (6-0) - Hot Springs, AR
Strengths: Free thrrow shooting
Weaknesses: Post defense, preimeter defense, stamina
Interest: Rap music
#34 Bella Grier - PG (5-9) - Gregory, SD
Strengths: quickness, vertical leap
Weaknesses: passing, offensive rebounding, defensive rebounding, post defense, perimeter defense, steals
Interest: Computer games (World of Warcraft)
Major: Social work
#25 Anzhelika Bure - SF (5-9) - Omsk, Russia
Weaknesses: ball handling, passing, offensive rebounding, pass defense, perimeter defense, stamina
#50 Allison Riggle - PG (5-9) - North Sioux City, SD
Weaknesses: inside shooting, offensive rebounding, defensive rebounding, pass defense, perimeter defense, steals, blocks, stamina
Interest: Video games
#35 Catalina Stewart - SG (6-0) - Valparaiso. IN
Strengths: Vertical leap
Weaknesses: Offensive rebounding
#21 Adalyn Matz - SF (5-11) - Show Low, AZ
Weaknesses: Inside shooting, passing, offensive rebounding, pass defense, perimeter defense, steals, blocks, stamina
Interests: Texting, internet
#52 - Leah Alexander PF (6-2) - Mastic Beach, NY
Weaknesses: Inside shooting, ball handling, passing, steals, blocks
Interests: Pool playing
Major: Business/human resources
#53 Maliah Lewellen - SF (6-0) - Ferndale, CA
Weaknesses: inside shooting, free throw shooting, defensive rebounding, blocking
Interests: Swimming, snorkeling
#11 - Sarah Alex PF (6-7) - Lubbock, TX
Weaknesses: Handling, passing, dribbling, post defence, perimeter defense, stamina
Interests: Movies, anime
#5 - Isabella Crumley PF (6-7) - Detroit, MI
Weaknesses: Jump shooting, 3-point shooting, handling, passing, post defense, perimeter defense
Interests: Computer games, cartoons
(* * *)
We were still stuck with trying to find a recruiter before the recruiting season started in earnest. I was unhappy with the resumes we were getting.
It was then that I heard a story about the movie Enter The Dragon, which was a movie biography of Bruce Lee. There was discussion that some prominent martial artist should be allowed to play Bruce Lee, and then someone involved with the movie - I don't know if it was the producer, director, whatever - said this.
"It's going to be easier to cast an actor and turn him into a martial artist than it's ever going to be casting a martial artist and turning him into an actor."
I then had the idea - "instead of trying to find someone involved in basketball who would recruit, why not find someone who can recruit who is involved in basketball?" Go outside of the Xs and Os of basketball, find someone who knows how to recruit people and have that person apply those skills to basketball. No more situations of a coach doing double-duty as an assistant and as a recruiter, and not being good at either one.
We put up ads on message boards, Craigslist, LinkedIn - basically asking for those who worked in positions of recruiting personnel who might have an interest in applying those skills to basketball players. Psychologists. Headhunters. Salesmen. People who had persuasive skills and who might be able to use those players to sweet talk a bunch of players to come to the University of South Dakota. It was a high risk strategy - but really, what did we have to lose?
We didn't put the school's name on these ads. We corresponded with them. The applicants were naturally curious. "We are a Division I women's basketball school," was all I said. "We are looking to apply your skills to player acquisition, and we need someone who can adapt to the high-pressure, high-stakes world of college sports. High hours of work, lots of travel, not much pay."
Once we whittled this down to a few people, we dropped the bomb. South Dakota isn't where most people want to relocate. We found five really good applicants.
I never expected a military veteran to answer the call to duty. Her name was Abagail Augustine, formerly Staff Sergeant Augustine.
She got right to business: "You have to show these girls a side of basketball that they have not seen. The academics, the cameraderie, the fellowship, the state of South Dakota, you have got to highlight that and you've got to be proud of that."
"Why did you leave the Army?" I asked.
"The Army and I had a difference of opinion regarding the sexual harassment of its female recruiting staff. The Army won that battle. I loved being in the Army and aside from that particular area of dispute, I had nothing against the army and would gladly join up again."
"Did they throw you out?"
She smiled. "No, they just showed me the door. Honorable discharge, thank you, don't come back."
"What is your recruiting philosophy?"
"I am a salesman. I SELL South Dakota women's basketball. I sell the opportunity of playing at the highest level of women's basketball in the United States. I sell the benefits of travel and study. In the meantime, I back that up with consistent communication. I sell them our goals and I make sure that they are willing to get it line with our goals."
"And if they don't?" I asked.
"Then how can you recruit them? You have to get with the program. We're not meeting a quota; we want the best of the best."
I definitely liked Augustine's straight-ahead go-getter style. Of course, whether she stayed or not depended on how well she could adapt to basketball recruiting. I'd try to teach her what little I knew.
The problem was that she was also being offered a job at UnitedHealth in their human relations department. I knew that if I could offer her at least $50,000 I'd have a chance at keeping her. I asked Willie Burbank what I should do, since that was about $10,000 more than the department cared to pay.
"Go talk to Wedderburn," he said.
So now I was in the position of asking a booster - directly - for money. I called Wedderburn at his home, out of nowhere, and I told him the story of Abigail Augustine and how great she was and how the Athletic Department needed donations and....
"...yeah, yeah, yeah," was his abrupt reply. "Listen, I'm busy now. I'll get back to you, all right."
The conversation was clearly over. He sounded put out about me calling him, about as put out as I felt about having to call him.
But one week later, we ended up with a donation of $10,000 to the USD Athletic Department. Augustine was still in discussions with UnitedHealth, and she ended up telling them that she would be joining the University of South Dakota recruiting staff.
(* * *)
Around the World
14 nanometer computer chips go into mass production.
These are chips manufactured following the 14 nanometer node.The 4 gigaherz barrier in CPU was now passed.
It had been claimed that the 16 nm barrier could not have been broken due to quantum tunneling. (A carbon atom is 34 nanometers wide). Intel had broken the barrier, and companies like IBM would soon be reaping the benefits.
The question was could manufacturers break through the 14 nm wall? The danger was that single, out-of-place atoms could ruin an entire chip and with the sheer magnitude of miniturization being approached, that likelihood increased. There was still much to do in the way of hardware design.
(* * *)
Wow. I actually finished another installment. Who knows if we'll get another one? But I finally have a coaching staff.
Next up: The recruiting trail in full effect, and Mark Hawkins falls in love with a player...or rather, the video.
That was a good hire. Hopefully, you two can grow together as the program gets more and more successful. You can be like Lane Kiffin and Ed Orgeron.
Coach Abigail Augustine.
We began our recruiting in earnest. It was AAU season, and all over the United States young women were playing basketball on traveling teams and in tournaments. This was really the best time to assess players, given that you could see all sorts of matchups against players in similar brackets.
Once again, we were starting with a list of about 2000 people and whittling that list down to the ones that we'd be going after. Our list came from recruiting services, from alumni, from contacts in the game, from various players filling out questionnaires. It was up to us in the War Room to figure out which players to pursue and which ones to cut loose.
We needed to fill five slots, so it would be busy. We needed two point guards, a power forward, a starting forward and a center. I expected that, like in previous years, I'd probably be busy all the way into March 2014 trying to find players. What I wanted to avoid was the debacle of my first recruiting year, where I spent up until April trying to beg players to come and play for South Dakota.
Our original goal was to recruit someone big from South Dakota. "If you can't recruit in your home state, can you recruit at all?" But this year, the pickings were slim. We only had four players in all of South Dakota who could play at the Division I level.
Alexis Shoulders: A very small 5-11 small forward who was a 5-star blue chipper. She had names like Connecticut on her favorites ist.
Ava Sanson: A 4-star center. She had the height but didn't score enough to suit me.
Madison Moore: A 2-star 5-10 small forward. She scored 15.8 points per game and had filled out a questionnaire and sent it in. The only school interested in her was North Dakota state.
Logan Griffen: A one-star 5-10 small forward. Scored 10.8 points per game, but not valued very high from recruiting services.
It was likely that Shoulders and Sanson would go on to power conferences. That left Moore and Griffen, and I had mixed feelings about the both of them.
"We have to go after someone who is good," I said. "We can afford to go after superstar players - they would have the advantage of playing at home and it would prove to other programs that we intend to recruit in our own home state."
"No Moore or Griffen, huh?" Coach Carter asked.
"Not yet," I said. "It's going to be down between Shoulders and Sanson. I need players who can perform, so it looks like it's going to be the runt, Shoulders."
"Is she even interested?" Coach Augustine asked.
"I guess I have to find that out," I said. "I'll make the first call. Abigail, follow up if this turns out to be a disaster."
(* * *)
Alexis Shoulders went to Todd County High School in the town of Mission in south central South Dakota. It was located entirely within the boundaries of the Rosebud Indian Reservation. It was Sioux territory, and it was the fifth poorest county in the United States.
Shoulders was white. I'm sure it would interesting learning about life in Todd County but I wondered if I'd ever get a chance to hear that story.
So I gave Alexis Shoulders a call. "I have to be honest with you," she said. "I'm just flat-out not interested at playing at South Dakota."
"Do you mind saying why not?" I asked.
"I just want to play at a bigger school." By 'bigger' she meant Connecticut or Tennessee.
"Look, I appreciate the interest," she said. "But I don't want to waste your time. You're just not a fit for me."
"You don't mind me calling you, though?" I said.
"I don't see what the point in it," she said.
"But you will actually take my calls?"
"You're not even in my top five. Or top ten. Or top twenty."
Burn. "Will you give me a chance to move up?"
Silence. "Do you mind if I talk to your coaches?"
Silence. Then finally. "Sure. You can talk to them."
It looked like I would be making a trip to Todd County, sooner or later.
(* * *)
In the meantime, we begin to center on recruiting for the Midwest. The Midwest included the states of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas and Wisconsin.
The East is in pink, the Southeast blue, the Midwest gold and the West in green.
We found a few good players from Michigan. I wouldn't mind going into Michigan and picking up a few acquisition away from Summit League powerhouse Oakland. The three Michiganites we found were:
Janiah Parker: Scored 18.5 ppg for Wyoming Park High School. Great free throw shooter (81 percent) and great 3-point shooter (44.2 percent).
Donna Cordoba: Not highly regarded, but scored 13.2 ppg for Fowler High with a 4.89 A/TO ratio.
Sadie Fessler: A power forward who almost picked up a double double (9.0 ppg/11.8 rpg) per game for Grass Lake High School.
But the player that I fell in love with was out of Illinois, from Granite City High School. She was a 5-6 point guard named Khloe Haney.
What about Khloe? She scored 21.9 ppg in high school, with 7.3 rebounds per game and 7.6 assists per game to just 1.4 turnovers. She shot 52.9 percent from the field and she hit 32.7 percent of her shots. She hit 77.3 percent of her free throws.
"My God!" I told Katie Ulmer. "Those numbers are like, what, out of science fiction!"
"You'd think that every Big Ten school in the country would be after her," she answered.
"Khloe? I like her already!" said Coach (Chloe) Carter. She opened her laptop and pushed a few buttons. "I'm looking at ESPN Rise and all I can find is that Missouri State went visiting."
"F*** Missouri State!" I said. "Let me see some video!"
I didn't get much video to look at. Just eight minutes worth. But during those eight minutes, she looked really good. It was a big school, over 1,000 enrollment. I had to know more, but I was falling in love with Khloe Haney in an entirely non-sexual way.
"Get me a plane ticket!" I said. "I'm going to go and see this girl myself!" She was going to the Adidas Midwest Tournament in Chicago which finished up the last week of July. I wouldn't have cared if it was a Nike tournament; I'd fight my way to the coach if I had to.
(* * *)
The week before the end of July, I took a drive to Todd County to catch up with Alexis Shoulders.
It looks like someone's been taking a few shots with a rifle. Probably trying to hit the "O".
I have to admit that I hadn't been to visit Todd County, or a lot of Western South Dakota for that matter. I expected to see a lot of grinding poverty. I saw hints of grinding poverty - some shanty-looking houses along the side of the road. But what I mostly saw was a lot of nothing.
I had daily reminders about how underpopulated South Dakota really is. Vermillion only has about 10,000 people and it's the 10th largest city in the state. The town of Mission only had about 1100 people in it and it wasn't much more than a wide spot in the road.
Todd County High School was a nice, modern looking building. My job was to come and visit her coach, Corey Dockery, and see if I could get some film.
He was definitely surprised to see me. "I think you're only the second coach who has come out here," Dockery said. Dockery taught ninth grade math and I caught him during his study hall hour.
"Who was the other guy?"
"Nathan Padilla." Oh that guy, the head coach of Connecticut.
So I asked the coach the basic questions. I asked him did he think that Shoulders could play Division I ball. That was a yes, he thought that Shoulders could play at the elite level.
Did she get along with her coaches and teachers? She had her bad moments and might be a little below average at that, but nothing outside of the boundaries. "She's a big moody." She had never been in any kind of trouble.
I talked to him about the University of South Dakota program. You never know who has the ear of the player - sometimes it's the mother, sometimes it's the father, and sometimes it's the coach. Unforunately, Dockery only had a limited about of time before he went to his next class.
"Do you have film?" I asked.
"Oh, you mean DVDs," he said. "Yes, of course, I've got every game of the last six years on DVD."
"Do you mind if I make some copies?"
"Help yourself. If you can come out here, I can certainly let you make copies."
And with that, I was directed to Dockery's office in the gymnasium. Armed with only a laptop, I copied as much as possible and left at nightfall.
(* * *)
So while Abigail Augustine handled Texas and Missouri and Chloe Carter visited Minnesota and Illinois, I was off to Chicago where I got to see Khloe Haney in a couple of games.
And what I saw astonished me - but not in a good way. She had two assists in two games. She was ice cold from the floor. She turned the ball over five times, including a pass that went up into the 10th row and took out a little old lady.
Slow getting back on defense. No control of the tempo, unable to read the team. She just looked horrible.
I didn't know what to think. Haney had good games in the Adidas Tournament, but this was certainly not her finest hour in a pressure situation. I felt I had wasted my time, and I wasn't alone. I spoke to a coach from Ohio University and asked what he thought about Khloe Haney.
"I saw the same stats that you did. But I think that in pressure games, she loses heart," the woman said.
The final verdict on Khloe Haney was not out yet.
(* * *)
As for Alexis Shoulders, I had seen enough film to make some quick judgments.
There were times when I saw Shoulders dogging it. On one game where she was getting schooled by a 6-3 girl, I saw her flat out give up. I wonder if Nathan Padilla saw that film. I wondered if she really had the burning desire to win that I expected a five-star elite player to have.
I had told Abigail Augustine to go ahead and offer Shoulders a scholarship one week earlier. Now, I was not so sure. It's tough enough to go after someone that all the big schools are going after; but it would be even tougher to find out after I sealed the deal that she didn't measure up.
August was not going to be an easy month.
(* * *)
Wow. Things going faster that I thought.
So why did Shoulders and Haney get slammed? They both turn up as red-red players when the game moved up to August 2013. I'm assuming that South Dakota assistants aren't the best assessors of talent, seeing that these players have no upside.
Shoulders is a five-star player, but Haney is a two-star. I'm more willing to take a chance on Haney with her amazing high school stats than I am with Shoulders.
Hey, sorry about not following this as much as I would have liked. I'm sure you don't mind and it looks like you've done a good job so far.
I think you might be delighted in seeing this type of update for our school:
Feast your eyes upon it. We in Vermillion are excited about it.
Blackgamer2009, that is great news for USD! That arena looks awesome.
(I just hope that Mark Hawkins gets to be there when they open that new arena!)
It was August. Our players were busy doing their unsupervised, voluntary summer workouts and we were just as busy. What I love about basketball is that basketball doesn't sleep. It's played indoors, so it is always being played somewhere. When your head hits that pillow, somewhere on this planet a basketball is hitting the floor.
We were still getting used to the new NCAA recruiting rules. We had the power to make unlimited use of social media since June 15th, and that meant texting - we could text to any recruit's phone that allowed us to (but there was no guarantee that we'd get any answer back). We had been hitting Facebook, but all of the visiting of the internet sites was starting to take its toll. We had heard that the bigger programs - the Connecticuts, the Tennessees, the Notre Dames - were planning on assigning their graduate assistants the tast of social media recruiting/monitoring. (We did not have any graduate assistants, so we had to do all of this ourselves.
The AAU season was basically over. August was the time when recruits fielded phone calls and when most coaches at the big programs make their home visits. My plan was to make a visit to the Adidas Midwest tournament in July to catch up with Khloe Haney at the end of the month, and I did.
It goes to show you that what you see sometimes doesn't match what it reported to you - her team didn't even make it out of the quarterfinals. She had two pretty bad games, 12 points and 9 points, far off from her 21.9 ppg high school average. She could run an offense and she could hit free throws, but her handles weren't nearly as good as I was led to believe from her HS statistics.
She could move, though. She was a straight up-baller, who ran straight up like a freight train, she didn't lean in when she drove but curved her shoulders like she was going to hit you with her boobs. It was very weird to watch, but she could keep control of the ball despite her ramrod-straight stature.
In the end, I didn't know what to think. Missouri State was there, and they were watching Haney too. But they hadn't pulled the trigger on an offer yet, so I wouldn't either.
(* * *)
I was still thinking over the Alexis Shoulders situation. (Me and Nathan Padilla at Connecticut, I suppose.) I kept going back and forth about it. We already had the scholarship offer out there...and despite her tendency to lay off in games everyone around the world of women's basketball praised her potential. And she was from South Dakota, and if I got her she would be the first Ms. Basketball from South Dakota that USD had signed. But Shoulders had an offer from Nebraska, and if my offer didn't move Shoulders, I figured that nothing would.
So I decided against my better judgment to hang in there. I decided to pull the trigger on some more scholarship offers - get them out there even if a scholarship offer sparked a feeding frenzy among other coaches. I needed point guards and Chloe Crowther out of Indiana and Arianna Capers out of Ohio would get the offers. I'd see what happened. If either one of those turned me down, Khloe would be next in line. Conventional wisdom said that Crowther and Capers were better, and I was feeling a little bit gun shy.
Another offer went out to Addilyn Mueller out of Missouri. Arkansas-Little Rock had already offered Mueller, I wanted to see if I could sway her to come to USD. I sent Abigail Augustine out to Missouri to see if she could be sweet talked and after that Augustine would be on a flight to Ohio after that to talk to Capers. We would see if Augustine was Supergirl, or if she was just Supergirl's secret identity, whatever that was.
(* * *)
In the meantime, I took visits to the various high schools in South Dakota. Generally, I would e-mail or call a coach and ask them to chat (or if it came to it, invite them to dinner). If South Dakota was going to be competitive in-state, the various schools needed to know my name.
South Dakota girls basketball has three levels - AA, A, and B. AA are schools with an enrollment of at least 450 students - that is how small the state is. It's a little more than an hour from Vermillion to Sioux Falls, which has four AA schools.
* O'Gorman Catholic: they have around 750 students. The Knights are part of the Sioux Falls Catholic Schools system. However, girls basketball has only won one state championship.
* Roosevelt HS: Roosevelt is a public school with about 2,000 students. They send a lot of their players to various college programs, usually DII and DIII.
* Lincoln HS: They are pretty much known for their marching bands skills more than they are for sports glory. The Lincoln Patriot Marching Band visits major parades like the Macy's Parade and the Rose Bowl Parade. Like Roosevelt, it is also a large school with about 2,000 students.
* Washington HS: The Warriors have about 1600 students. They are primarily known for football, with 38 state high school football championships.
Both Roosevelt and Washington had booster clubs, and I managed to finagle an invite to speak in front of the Roosevelt Booster Club. Of course, something would have to awry. I was invited to speak at a banquet...but the problem was that when they brought me up to the podium, people had not stopped eating yet!
So as I spoke, you could hear the slurping of food, the clanking of silverware, and I wondered if they were listening. I had some good lines that I borrowed from other coaches.
"If you think it's tough keeping one woman happy, try fifteen." That one always gets a laugh. What speech did I give? About the importance of Title IX (#1) and about South Dakota and basketball (#2). It was really a mix of #1 and #2 - I'm starting to memorize speeches now, I think I can give those two speeches in my sleep.
(* * *)
Falcon Heavy is launched.
The Falcon Heavy rocket was a multi-stage rocket designed to lift payloads into orbit. It lifted off from Cape Canaveral, and tested successfully. The rocket could lift payloads at a cost of $500/pound. It is designed to launch satellites that weigh more than 117,000 pounds, so it's not like things are going up cheap.
SpaceX, a private company, developed the rocket. Falcon Heavy would be a major step forward in lowering the price of space flight as well as increasing reliability, although not as much as its boosters claimed it would. It had twice the capacity of the Space Shuttle, and the orbital launch vehicle was reusable.
(* * *)
Wow. That was a long time between updates. Hopefully, we'll get to September in less than a month.
Theheel: Glad to be back!
We were two months away from our first game. The league had now released its full conference schedule and we knew exactly who we would play and when we would play them.
SOUTH DAKOTA COYOTES Schedule Date Opponent -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 11/16/13 North Dakota 11/23/13 at St. Francis-NY 11/26/13 Detroit 11/30/13 Milwaukee 12/03/13 Eastern Illinois 12/10/13 at Missouri 12/14/13 at Wyoming 12/17/13 at #15 Illinois State 12/21/13 at Purdue 12/26/13 at Minnesota 12/28/13 at Michigan State 12/31/13 at #4 Notre Dame 01/02/14 at IUPUI 01/04/14 Nebraska-Omaha 01/07/14 Western Illinois 01/11/14 at UMKC 01/16/14 at North Dakota State 01/18/14 South Dakota State 01/23/14 IPFW 01/25/14 at Oakland 01/30/14 at Sam Houston State 02/01/14 IUPUI 02/04/14 at Nebraska-Omaha 02/08/14 at Western Illinois 02/11/14 UMKC 02/15/14 North Dakota State 02/20/14 at South Dakota State 02/22/14 at IPFW 02/27/14 Oakland
That was five games in ten days. Our crucible. I figured that if we could survive that, we could survive anything. The only good thing about it was that classes wouldn't be a distraction. And speaking of classes, school started in September....
(* * *)
In the meantime, we had to look at our Top 20 board in the war room. One thing I was surprised about is how many players had put us on their profiles as a potential school on ESPN Rise. Out of 20 players, 11 had us on ther favorites list. Many players on our Kong recruiting software hit the benchmarks for an implied increase in interest in what we had to offer. I credit Coach Augustine for that.
Out of five scholarships to offer, we had four offered:
SF: Alexis Shoulders. Even though I was not impressed by what I saw from Shoulders, she was from South Dakota - probably the best player from South Dakota that could potentially play at a DI school. I wanted to win this battle because I wanted to walk away with the highest ranked player in South Dakota, the state's official Miss Basketball title holder. USD, not South Dakota State and certainly not Connecticut.
Augustine had thawed out Shoulders from a "hell no!" stance to a "maybe" stance. I thought that was excellent. However, Nebraska and Kansas State had put offers on the table. They would be tough to beat, my hope was that distance could do the trick.
PG: Chloe Crowther and Arianna Capers. They were the best point guards we had recruited. We were now fighting Indiana State for Crowther, and that would be a big problem since Crowther was from Indiana. With Capers, we had the same problem - Cincinnati and Butler wanted her to play for them, and even though we had offered Capers a scholarship she was barely returning our calls and the numbers from Kong looked dismal.
C: Addilyn Muller. Arkansas-Little Rock had offered her a scholarship, despite her Shaq-like free throw percentage of 49.2 percent. But she had real potential.
The real problem was in the power forward position. I told Augustine that I didn't think that any of the players we targeted could really help the team. Like it or not, we would have to look for new players and redouble our efforts.
(* * *)
In the meantime, I had two recruiting visits scheduled. I would try to solve the problem of Arianna Capers with a one-on-one visit.
I knew Cincinnati, Ohio fairly well. I didn't know Colerain Township, which was where the Capers lived. The father of the Capers household was an undertaker, and the mother worked for the United States Marshals Service. The joke was that the family would always have a good supply of business. Arianna was their only child.
I commented to the father when we had a private moment that Arianna had never seemed to show much interest in being recruited. "I'm not sending anyone away," he replied. "This is an adventure, and Arianna needs not to be so picky and choosy about schools."
My very first comments to Arianna laid it out on the line. "Arianna, I'm very glad that you spoke to Coach Augustine and told her that you wouldn't mind me visiting. I know that you have an offer from Cincinnati. I also know that Butler has offered you a scholarship. Now, let me advocate our case."
I told her that the University of South Dakota was located in Vermillion, a smaller city than either Cincinnati or Indianapolis. Cincinnati can boast the Big East," I said (or rather, could boast what was left of it after the Catholic schools joined the Sunrise.) "Butler can boast small class sizes and an NCAA pedigree. Why I am playing up these schools over my own? Very simple. One, I want you to know that we are interested and if those two schools fall through, I want to get my toe in the water. Two, I'm very proud of what we've accomplished as a program in just two years."
"We do have a student body of around 10,000. But we are a college town. We are away from it all. There's a small downtown. Drive a few miles out of town and you can hit prairie pretty fast. However...if a small school is out of the question, just let me know and we can stop here with no hard feelings."
I boxed her in. If she could go to Butler, there was no reason for her not to go to USD - Butler was actually a smaller school than South Dakota. I told her that we had a great student life, and that kids came out to support the sports programs. (Well, maybe not so much women's basketball but why say that?)
Even though I only talked for an hour and a half, she did listen with some interest and had real serious questions - she wasn't just marking time listening to some coach speak; she really wanted more information about USD. On the other hand, she gave me no serious sign that anything moved her.
Our recruiting software, Kong, is very good about asking questions after a recruiting pitch:
* did you position? (i. e. what benefit do you bring)
* did you differentiate? (i. e. why are we unique and different)
* is the conversation open (i. e. does the recruit share information you didn't know before)
* did you ask for a further meeting/contact -> if still positive, did you try to get a commitment?
Unfortunately, we failed on metric #3. When the target asks you questions but doesn't volunteer much, this is called "just being polite". Arianna was being polite. And that was the problem.
She was open to further contact. But her basic veneer of politeness (enforced by Mom and Dad?) and the short amount of time we had together - just an hour and 15 minutes - did not leave me with positive feelings.
(* * *)
My next trip was to Mission, South Dakota to talk to Miss Basketball of 2013, Alexis Shoulders.
Shoulders's father worked as a provider of computer services for government employees at the Rosebud Indian Reservation. Her mother was a stay-at-home mom. Mission was a really small town - maybe about 1,000 people - best known for being the place where Bob Barker grew up.
The Shoulders family lived in an apartment in the middle of town. It was very run down and dodgy looking, but generally there aren't a lot of people looking to build town houses in the middle of the Rez.
"Hello!" Alexis's father said. "You're only the second person who doesn't live in Mission who has come out here - you and Nathan Padilla!"
"He's not hiding in the living room, is he?" I asked, laughing.
Like Arianna, Alexis was also an only child, so it was a very quiet conversation. "I'm glad you're warming up a little bit to playing for South Dakota," I said.
"Well, Coach, I have to give you credit for coming out here," she said. "And it might be a little bit cool to be closer to home. My Mom and Dad might get a chance to see me play."
"Amen," her mother said.
"Listen," I told Alexis. "My job is to get the best players for the Coyotes. I don't really care where they live. In-state, out-of-state. You know I've done a lot of out-of-state recruiting, and I know that you would be a great addition to the Coyote family. And it's a family, and I want to attract the best South Dakota players to join that family."
"But I have seen your play. You're a little slow getting back on defense, and that forces the other players to have to cover for you. The game is a lot faster on the college level. Also - I've seen you make some odd passes."
"Coach says to get my teammates involved."
"True. And I'm not going to gainsay your coach," I said. "But there is something my coach told me when I was a point guard at James Madison. He said, "You only pass the ball if your teammate can do something better with the ball than you can." Don't feel forced to make things happen. Let them happen."
I broke her game down a little bit, based on what I'd seen on the DVD. She seemed impressed. Our meeting was almost two hours, but she made it clear - "I still have a big decision to make," she said. I felt good about the conversation either way; I knew that Alexis would be successful at any level. The only bad part of it was driving back home on the deserted South Dakota highways in the middle of the night.
(* * *)
Around the world
In September 2013, 3-d plasma TV finally dropped to a price where customers began to seriously consider purchasing it.
Not only could purchasers view 3-d movies at home inexpensively, but the technology was starting to be incorporated into a wide range of consumer products - Blu-Ray, DVR recording, personal computers, and gaming consoles.
There were two kinds of 3d that depended on some sort of glasses. Active 3-d had glasses with electronic shutters and passive 3-d used polarized lenses. Major American broadcast networks announced plans for 3d broadcast channels in the coming year and technology was being developed to allow 3d broadcast without the glasses - a truly immersive experience.
(* * *)
At this point, I'm just surprised that I can get any update done. Two more months or so to actual play!
It's little things like this that make you the best dynasty writer I've ever seen.
As always, good read.
Great to see you've started this again. I enjoy that you used my old high school (Roosevelt) as a major part of the story. Not that it matters or anything, but do like bragging that within one decade and a half, we managed to win multiple state titles and won over 100 games in a row. Essentially, we're the best girl's basketball program in state history.
However, I think Washington's taken over the title at this point, and will continue to be a strong team for years to come, although Roosevelt is definitely still up there as a state powerhouse. I've enjoyed your work, by the way. It continues to impress me and I hope you keep it all up. It's still surprising to see someone writing a dynasty about a school that I actually attend, especially since it's little old USD.