Category Archives: Tournament Info

Nowhere to go but UP…

The MML U15 season started out Easter weekend at the Flint’s Finest tournament Hoops Classic tournament in Swartz Creek. After only 4 practices (only 1 with the full squad), it was time to turn the lights on and see what we had. Well, what we saw is that we have a lot of work to do. For the first time as a coach in MML history, my team finished a weekend without a win. For a 7-team bracket, the competition was really high which was great preparation moving forward.

The first game was a hard battle against the team that eventually finished in 2nd place, the Tri City Heat. Thomas Cook and Matt Buschman had strong starts to take us to halftime in a battle. Tyler Rose came off of the bench to spark the team in the second half, but turnovers proved to be the team’s demise in the 39-47 loss. Cook and Buschman led with 9 points and Rose chipped in 8. Trevor Bland led a rebounding effort that kept it close as well.

The second game saw us matched up against a former MSU Flintstone Morris Peterson sponsored team appropriately named the “Flintstones”. Unfortunately for us, they had an experienced and big group that jumped on us with their athleticism. There weren’t many bright spots, but ours had to be when Bland dove for a loose ball, came up short, but was somehow then able to knock it from the opposing player’s hands, collect the ball, then pass it out to a teammate to start the break all while ON THE GROUND! The game didn’t finish in our favor 36-66, but that hustle showed signs of a heart developing. Buschman and Bland had 10 points apiece, while Rose tossed in 9 of his own.

The next morning brought with it a team from Ann Arbor in DSO Sports. The MML squad seemed more determined than ever to fight and claw their way through the game. At halftime, we found ourselves buying into a brand new defensive strategy and down only 3 points to a heavily favored team. Unfortunately, the grind of a tough weekend and tough game caught up to us in the second half and we ran out of gas and managed only 9 points losing 22-38. Bland and Buschman threw in 5 points, and Devonare Vaughn had 4.

A couple of weeks off will help the team gel and allow some work to be done on ball control. The next tournament will be the Michigan Warriors Jam Fest May 2-4.

The good: MVPs Buschman and Bland. Both guys showed a grit and determination that started to rub off on the rest of the guys. Leading the team in scoring and rebounding, they did what they could to lead the Lakers. I expect bigger and better things.

The bad: Our offense. Execution was at a minimum this tournament and must get better. Ball control, passing, cutting, and shooting are some of the determining factors.

The ugly: TURNOVERS!! We set a record I am sure for the number of times we gave the ball away for free to the other team. Execution will help, but an understanding of how important ball control will help even more…and we WILL take care of the ball better!

Unsung hero: Rose. I admit it; I didn’t know what he had in him. He showed me a heart that is threatening to burst out his chest. He scored, hustled, defended, played out of position at times, and just gave everything he had.

~REMEMBER~ Payment is now due.

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Flint’s Finest Hoops Classic- MML U15 schedule 2014

It’s an exciting week here with MML as our first tournament is fast approaching this upcoming weekend, April 18, 19.  So far, the schedule for the pool games on Friday are as follows:

Friday, April 18, 2014– 12:00 pm vs. Tri City Heat @ the Cage Fieldhouse court 4

Friday, April 18, 2014– 4:00 pm vs. Flintstones@ the Cage Fieldhouse court 2

Bear in mind that the schedule is tentative until Thursday at 5:00 pm when it goes final.  As you can see, two games are scheduled pool games and any games following, will be scheduled based on the results from these pool games.  The more we win, the more we play.  In this tournament, only three games are guaranteed, so to keep playing after game 3, we MUST win.  We will post more information if it becomes available or if the schedule changes.

Parents, it is imperative that the U15 kids be at practice on Thursday, April 17 from 7-9 pm at the Cage as we will finalize preparation for the tourney.  Spring break has put us firmly behind the 8-ball in terms of practice and preparation, but we will adapt and overcome

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Tentative 2014 Schedule

Spring:

Flints Finest Tournament: April 18-19 (Flint) * U-15 only

Warrior Jamfest: May 2-4 (Livonia)

Moneyball Shootout: May 9-11, (Lansing)

CDBA/BankHoops: May 16-18 (Kalamazoo)

Up North Challenge: May 23-25 (Mt. Pleasant)

Summer:

TBD: Based on spring performance

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U-16 White Team will not participate in NCAA tournaments

I’ve put this off as long as I can: The U-16 White team will not participate in NCAA tournaments this month. As of today, only four players are eligible to participate.

I will mail out $100 refunds to the parents of those players.

Like Coach Miller said in a prior post, this is uncharted water for us. We have never had to cancel NCAA tournaments due to lack of participation. It’s disappointing, embarrassing and everything in between, but it’s the right thing to do.

Have a great rest of the summer. Don’t waste your time with foolishness; be focused on getting better every day.

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A First Time, and Hopefully the Last Time…(2013 U17 team)

It is with great aggravation that I write this piece today.  I spent the end of May bragging about how much my boys had turned the corner individually and as a team.  Perhaps even more importantly, as a group I would now call “men.”  I also cautioned the group that they would have to earn and live up to that title throughout the course of time.  June is a month of slack as a general practice in AAU ball.  There are no tournaments and thus many teams separate for its entirety.  Not the U17 MML squad of 2013 though and we started strong with our entire group minus 2 at the first June practice.  At that practice, the team made a committment to me as the coach, to the team, and to themselves to do whatever it took in June to have success in July.  They sealed that committment by writing a plan inside a book that I wrote and had published under a poem called “What is Success?” 

Unbeknownst to me, that would be the team highlight of June.  Slowly members’ attendance dwindled at practices.  Those who did attend will attest that they were some of the best and hardest practices we had all in an effort to improve.  10 players turned to 5, which turned to 3, and even 2.  At the last practice, I had more new players that wanted to join the team come (3) as those who were on the team (2).  It was at that point I began to re-evaluate the merits of our July schedule that was planned.  A trip to Indianapolis, a trip to Grand rapids, Fort Wayne or maybe even Chicago had to be considered, then reconsidered again.  I had to look at the players that fell bu the wayside without as much as a text to the one coach that gave them a legitimate shot in AAU to play and IMPROVE.  I really don’t care about kids that quit; frankly, I only ever want players that want to be Lakers to be there.  However, the excuses for missing began to mount; excuses that I know would not be given to a high school coach that likely has not invested nearly the finances in them as MML did.  MML is and will continue to be built on everything opposite of what opponents of travel ball complain about.  We honor God, we work hard, we have respect for ourselves, the game, and each other, and we do not circumvent the rules.  I was forced to examine if this team in particular had lost sight of those ideals.

Consequently, I did everything I could to avoid the fate that I have to present today.  As a unit, we did not take care of our fiduciary responsibility, nor our responsibility as a team or band of brothers.  We showed that we were not ready to carry the mantle as men though a few may have been.  For the first time in MML history, I have decided to cancel the entire month of July’s schedule.  For those who may not know, college coaches will tell you that July is the most important recruiting month on the calendar bar none.  That means that I had to choose to eliminate that time for MML that could literally change the futures of the players involved.  That was not an easy choice, but one that had to be made.  After years of unity and operating at a level of excellence, the responsibility placed on this group this year was too much to bear for them. 

I honestly feel terribly bad.  Nothing about me wants to give up on any group of young men.  The reason why I have done this for so many years is the potential impact it can have on ushering necessary changes in players’ lives.  But I cannot look at myself in the mirror if I give to the group what was not earned.  Somehow we have gotten the idea that someone owes us something and become an entitled group.  Well, it is my responsibility to burst the bubble of that false sense of reality.  I post this in the hope that those that read it on this team will wake up and also as a point of consideration for those coming up through the program.  This team was given custom uniforms, custom socks, time in two gyms for free, and a plethora of time from leadership.  In return, they gave excuses, reasons, elite attitude, and lack of appreciation.  That is not nor will it ever be acceptable for the Mid Michigan Lakers, period.  Not now, not ever.  Unfortunately, the lesson had to be learned the hard way this time.

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U-16 Blue Team update: Fort Wayne

The U-16 Blue Team will be competing in one tournament in July. The GRBA National Championships in Fort Wayne, Indiana. If you are a member of this team, you will need to confirm with your coach before the end of the week. Please let Coach Hutton know if you will be able to attend. Text him at 810-441-3821.

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MML U17 Spring Session Recap

2013 Camp Darryl/Bankhoops.com Silver Division Champs

2013 Camp Darryl/Bankhoops.com Silver Division Champs

I remember doing the recap last spring and thinking I did not know when I would again be so happy to do it.  At the time I believe we were 27-7 and feeling good about the majority of our performances.  We had a title in our first tournament and a second place finish to boot.  Much of that was expected based on the talent and chemistry we believed we had (although we lost a huge piece due to injury in the second tournament).  This year’s team honestly gave me heartburn thinking about it after our tryouts.  We had gone from only one person under 6’0″ last year to no one over 6’3″ this year.  I remember thinking that I knew some of the kids could play, but that being a .500 team would be an accomplishment with the size disadvantages we faced.  But what I didn’t know was that these guys were hungry…

Hard practices, a lot of teaching, and a good helping of discipline brought this group together as they seemed to gel as each tournament went by.  Some didn’t make it to this point; an unfortunate bump in the road to success, but also creating opportunities for others to step up.  Those who perservered saw the light at the end of the tunnel to continue to grow brighter and brighter.  The reward of running toward that light was a 5-1 showing and susequent silver division championship run at the Camp Darryl/Bankhoops.com Classic in Kalamazoo. 

We played the first game in that tournament with 6 guys.  We were up by only 4 points at halftime, yet we won by a final margin of 29 with Amariontez Ivory-Thomas (Tez) scoring 36 points to lead us.  There were games when some didn’t play well, but others quickly jumped in to fill the void for them.  In every game we were clearly overmatched in terms of height (and it wasn’t close), but the team decided that it would not be the thing that stopped them.  In our only loss, a 24-point deficit was chopped to 6 before losing by 9.  The comeback showed the heart that would carry us the whole tournament.  In the semifinal game against BBC Select, Tez had a first half for the ages.  I believe he missed one shot the entire half, prompting the opposing coach to try a gimmick defense to stop him and then even question his eligibility (that he was a senior) because he was playing so well.  When they singled him out, he found his teammates unselfishly.  The team learned how to win in that type of pressure-filled game as Tez finished with 27 points and Marquavian Stephens (Marq) dropped 20 to notch an 8-point win.

The championship game versus the Macomb County Cougars was one to remember.  It was as fast-paced as any game I  can remember coaching in the 21 years I have been doing it.  The action was unreal as again our two tallest guys were giving up 5-8″ each on the opposing team’s big men.  They were attacking us down low, while we were attacking them with speed and outside shooting.  Tez again carried us in the beginning, but it may have been a shoe change by another player that brought the title home.  Last year’s MVP (and the only Laker to have his jersey retired), JD Tisdale, was there serving as my assistant coach when he noticed Marq looking uncomfortable.  He said to me, “…he [Marq] can’t jump.  It looks like his shoes are hurting him.  I will give him mine to play in.”  He did that and whether or not they felt any better I have no clue, but Marq played like a man possessed the rest of the game.  Torandis Mack bounced back from an ankle injury in the semifinal to attack the basket with force en route to 14 big points.  Jamil Demps added 13 points and his usual suffocating defense.  Marq led the way with 25 points, while Tez threw in 23 and led us again in rebounding.  It capped off a great all-tournament team performance from Tez (the only one to make the team from the silver division) where he averaged 25 points and rebounded well above his size.  Marq also had a great tournament and should have been an all-tournament team selection in my book as well.  He frustrated teams all weekend, some even suggesting that he play football because he was that tough.  Kelvin Weston earned a starting role and showed why as he was part of a defensive perimeter that was outstanding while also chipping in scoring when needed.  Jacob Littles, Fred Toins, and Mike Kimball knocked down a few three-point bombs and Jacob continued to lead us defensively as he has done all spring.  He must have rubbed off on Fred because he displayed defense that none of us knew he had!

We have won titles before in Laker history, but this one was really special because no one could have expected it at that point.  It capped off a spring that saw us finish April/May with a 14-8 record (.636) with a 7-2 burst in the final two tournaments of the spring.  As we move through the school season of June, the guys left even hungrier for more success which I am sure their high school coaches will appreciate.  I even had one player ask if we were practicing on the holiday (Memorial Day)!  The answer was “no”, but I loved the fact that he wanted to.  I am extremely proud of what this team has done so far, but the present is far from the end result.  They all wrote June plans for July success (pictured below) as they realize the importance of not having a letdown in effort.  The July ncaa-certified session will bring more challenges and more opportunity to show coaches and scouts what the Lakers are made of.  The boys that I started with in April have grown into men and are better on and off the court for it.  They rose above disappointment in Lansing to win their very next time out.  Discipline and sacrifice in practice, workouts, games, social media, and sometimes friendships bring rewards in future endeavors.  I am excited to see where this group goes in July and into their senior seasons.  I believe there will be some surprised coaches out there…

 

The fellas writing June plans for success in July

The fellas writing June plans for success in July

Spring Record: 14-8

Best Finish: 1st place silver division of Camp Darryl/Bankhoops.com (Tez all-tournament team)

Spring MVP: Amariontez Ivory-Thomas

Spring All-Defense: Jacob Littles/Torandis Mack/Jamil Demps

Spring Most Improved: Kelvin Weston

Spring Heart Award: Marquavian Stephens

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