Here is the second installment of De La Salle (Concord, Calif.) basketball coach Frank Allocco's experiences at the Nike High School Elite Camp in Shanghai, China. He was asked to lead the camp, along with Archbishop Mitty (San Jose, Calif.) coach Tim Kennedy and Harvey Kitani, of Fairfax (Los Angeles).
See Day 1 By Frank AlloccoSHANGHAI —
Our first day of camp began with a lengthy photo session for the campers and coaches. Many of these players have traveled many hours from various provinces throughout China to compete in this challenging event.
I met our team during our photos and explained that my staff and I would give our best effort to help them maximize their abilities. The purpose of this camp is to provide these young players with an "American basketball" experience as they participate in the same practices that their counterparts in California experience. Our team names reflect those of our teams back home, De La Salle
, Coach Kennedy's is Archbishop Mitty
, and Coach Kitani's team is Fairfax
It was fun to put my team through a typical De La Salle practice. We started off with a defensive emphasis and taught some of our defensive traditions to the Chinese players. The Chinese players are quite receptive to coaching as the level of coaching in China is quite varied depending upon the level the players are competing at. Most Chinese players start playing the game at around 12-years-old, so they lack an instinctive feel for the game and struggle with the fundamental concepts. I have two Chinese assistant coaches working with me and they were fascinated to hear the tales of the commitment our players have to the game and to each other.
The Chinese leadership is hungry for opportunities to help their players excel. The players' attitude toward basketball is quite different, as they don't seem to have bought into the concepts of playing hard and competing to win. Most of the Chinese players lack proficiency in the fundamentals of basketball, as much of their exposure to the game has come from watching NBA Games. Players try to emulate the moves they see on television or on highlight DVDs.
The players on my team vary in size and skill levels. Our best player, Wang Shaojie competes on the junior national team. He is a 6-foot-8 wing player who is very athletic and explosive around the rim. He runs the floor well but definitely needs to work on his focus, concentration and effort. He has the potential to be the best player in this camp — it will be fascinating to see if he steps up and asserts himself at that level. He has already committed to playing for TsingHua University upon his graduation from high school.
Another standout player is Jing Haoyang, a 6-4 guard from the Shang Don Province, who can shoot threes and get to the rim.
Today my emphasis was on rebounding and it wasn't long before I was yelling "lon-bon" (phonetic spelling), which means "rebound," on every possession.
I also spent some time working on each player's shot ("toe," phonetically). Tony Dorado, the head of Nike High School Basketball, was quite impressed with my blossoming "command" of the Chinese language and my players got quite a kick out of it as well!
Our second practice of the day ended at 6 p.m. It was a long day for the players but it was a great time for me. Coaches Kennedy and Kitani have been conducting their practices on adjoining courts. I am enjoying watching both of them work. They are great teachers of the game and have tireless energy. It is truly an honor to work alongside them. Before walking back to our hotel, I said goodnight to our boys and asked them to get some rest and return tomorrow ready to compete!