Men’s basketball team participates in coaching clinics at national convention

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Criminal justice freshman Mike Merchant, guard for the Rangers, assists in a demonstration by Gregg Popovich, head coach of the San Antonio Spurs. The Rangers participated in drills and clinics at the National Association of Basketball Coaches March 29-31 in the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. Dillon Holloway

Big name coaches pleased with the team’s efforts, coach says.

By Dillon Holloway

The Rangers’ regular season may be over, but the team is still determined to improve their skills on the hardwood.

The team spent their weekend engaged in a series of workouts at the National Association of Basketball Coaches Convention.

The convention ran March 29-April 2 inside the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center.

Rangers’ head coach Sam Casey attended the convention with 10 Ranger players, who participated in various coaching clinics before a packed Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center crowd of coaches March 29-31.

James Ingram, head coach of Northeast Lakeview men’s basketball, also attended the event and had two Nighthawk’s players who participated in drills with the Rangers.

The association, also known as the NABC, holds the convention annually in conjunction with the NCAA Men’s Final Four according to the association’s website

This year’s Final Four semifinal and championship games were March 31 and April 2 inside the Alamodome.

The NABC is recognized as the central governing authority for the game of basketball with nearly 5,000 coaches making up its membership, according to the association’s website

Forrest “Phog” Allen, former University of Kansas head coach, founded the NABC in 1927.

This weekend, the drills were conducted by basketball coaches who demonstrated techniques and plays for the coaches in attendance.

Ingram said the NABC Convention is attended by collegiate coaches from all levels of men’s and women’s basketball programs.

“Every team in the country has a coach or some kind of representation here,” he said.

Ingram said the convention is an opportunity for players involved in coach demonstrations to get looked at by bigger schools.

Coaches who led clinics included Flor Meléndez-Montañez, former Puerto Rican National Team head coach; Ben McCollum, Northwest Missouri State University head coach; Dana Altman, University of Oregon head coach; Carmen Maciariello, George Washington University assistant coach; and Bob Huggins, West Virginia University head coach.

Gregg Popovich, head coach of the San Antonio Spurs, delivered a lecture titled “Building and Sustaining a Culture of Excellence” March 30.

Popovich emphasized the importance of coaches getting to know players on a personal level and realizing there are things in life bigger than basketball.

Popovich said he does not possess a magical secret to winning; success comes from hard work and developing good habits.

“My drills are the same as your drills,” he said. “It’s not about X’s and O’s, it’s about habits.”

Criminal justice freshman Derek Miller, forward for the Rangers, said attending the NABC convention was better than he could have imagined.

“I loved the overall weekend, I think the team did as well. I think everyone loved it,” he said.

Miller said the team benefitted from the drills and were able to pick up the new plays quickly.

“Some of those drills we don’t do. So, they could be very useful with our offensive and defensive sets,” he said. “Everyone was picking them up really easily. With the Oregon coach, Dana Altman, we only had 10 minutes to go through his offense and we picked it up in 10 minutes.”

Altman had the Rangers run Oregon’s offensive sets, which include multiple cuts to the basket and post-up plays.

Casey, who is a member of the NABC, contacted Thom McDonald, the recruiting coordinator of Championship Productions, during this college’s spring break to inquire about the team participating.

“I heard they were looking for a team to use for the demonstrations so I made it pretty clear that ‘hey, we’re interested,’” he said.

Championship Productions produces instructional videos and DVDs for coaches, parents, and athletes according to the company’s website

The drills and clinics at the NABC Convention were filmed and will be sold by the company, Casey said.

Casey said the team was able to attend the convention free of charge save for the cost of transportation covered by this college.

The transportation cost was about $210 for all three days plus the cost of gas, Casey said.

Casey said it was tough to pick a favorite clinic from the weekend but highlighted Maciariello, who was a last-minute replacement at the convention, leading a clinic called “It Starts with the Feet.”

Maciariello focused on foot work and strategies for driving the ball into the paint.

“We want our feet to eat,” Maciariello said to the clinic. “We always want more.”

Casey said he appreciated Maciariello’s positivity, high energy, attention to detail and desire to get all of the Rangers involved.

“He made sure to utilize every single one of our guys so no one really missed out,” Casey said.

“That’s no one’s fault when that happens because they’re asked to speak on certain topics so sometimes you only need five guys, but he made a point to get everyone involved.”

Casey said he received positive feedback from convention organizers and coaches on the Rangers work ethic and professionalism during the clinics.

“I think the word is out now that San Antonio College has a basketball team and they work hard when they’re on the court,” he said.

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