Hoop Dreams

That's our middle school boys bball team, pictured above (thanks Julia).

They entered the game undefeated. So did Smith Leadership Academy.

a. It was a friggin' fun game to watch. Intense. Very well coached (both teams) -- big props to Dan and CJ and the gang.

SLA pressed MATCH, and our kids struggled to break it in the first half. But second half we broke it fairly often, and got a number of layups. Liked both teams' passing against the 2-3 zone....usually hard to get 13-year-olds to move the ball so quickly and deftly (they tend to like to dribble).

b. Good sportsmanship. You know how, after games, both teams create a line so each player shakes the hand of each opposing player? I watch lines like that. This one had a good vibe.

c. I think we got at least one kid that the prep schools will recruit. If he leaves, that statistic will be tabulated in the charter wars as "attrition." Even though the real story would be his teachers have helped him make huge strides, enough that he may now be able to hack it at a prep school.

d. Notice the low ceiling. Yes, it pretty much limits 3-pointers. You can sink 'em, but you need to flick a line drive. Our guys eked out the victory, but we benefitted from home court advantage of knowing the ceiling.

e. Refs were good. That's not easy, officiating middle school hoops. You need to be consistent, but you can't call every little violation.

f. I love that Kyle, our middle school dean, held out one of our key players. Evidently he'd been giving teachers a hard time last several days in class.

I'd be tempted to think: "Gee, our kids are undefeated. I'd hate to ruin the biggest game of the season...maybe I should hold him out of a different game."

Of course, that's the wrong move -- I'm just saying it can be tempting. Perhaps Kyle even generated one of those "life learning moments" where the kid realizes he let down his teammates, you never know. A dad from the other team mentioned to me that SLA was also missing a top player.

g. After the game, I hooped with 10 of the MATCH Corps tutors til 9pm. They were amazed at how I combine lack of speed with spotty shooting and poor decision-making. I'm a triple threat.