Monthly Archives: July 2009

July Basketball, Vegas Style: Day 2

It didn’t take long to figure out what Craig Murray was talking about when he said the reason he brings Total Package to the Reebok Summer Championships in Las Vegas and to next week’s LA Pump Best of Summer Championships is to experience the highest levels of high school basketball.

With about 45 college coaches — including Connecticut’s Jim Calhoun looking on — the high-flying Virginians prevailed 64-49 in Thursday’s pool play game at Liberty High in Henderson, Nev.

Petersburg Elite, with rising star Justin Coleman — a 6-foot-5 player who has come out of nowhere this summer to be ranked the No. 7 small forward and No. 42 overall player in the country in the class of 2010 by — put on a clinic out of the gate. They raced to a 16-2 lead, dropping 3-pointers and swatting shots while making it look like a game between men and boys.

But Total Package recovered, going on a 13-2 run of its own to get back in it. Despite not shooting it well (defensive intimidation was a factor) from the field or the foul line, Total Package trailed just 32-24 at halftime (they play 15-minute halves with a 2-minute break).

Petersburg controlled the second half, but Total Package stayed within 10 for the most part. Murray said it might have been a different game big man Austin Jenkins (he arrives today after finishing football camp) had been there.

Still, hard-nosed Ryan Rogers of Auburn-Riverside kept TP close. Point guard Chris Repar did a nice job handling and distributing the ball. Bainbridge’s Will Diiorio made some nice passes and had his moments, but had trouble getting his shot off inside against the taller, more athletic opponents.

For Diiorio, who has heard from Pepperdine, Portland, Portland State, Seattle U and and other players who haven’t signed or been offered scholarships — and others like Bainbridge teammate Ryan Burris —  this is a pressure-filled week.

“It’s the biggest week I have in basketball,” Diiorio said.

“Yeah, it puts pressure on me, but you just have to deal with it and play your hardest,” he said.

This is exactly why Murray brings his players to these tournaments.

“This is what you want,” Murray said. “You want to play against good talent in a competitive environment. These guys (Petersburg Elite) right here, if you’d have watched them warmup, you’d have said they were going to beat us by 40, 50 points. But we came out and played hard and that’s the experiene you want them to gain and also to understand this is the next level of players If you want to play at a higher level, this is what you’ll face. And there’s players all around the United States playing at this level of basketball.”

As for Petersburg’s Coleman, he’s reportedly been offered by Charlotte, but a lot of schools are now jumping on the bandwagon. It’s easy to see why this previously unknown player is getting some serious looks from schoosl like Indiana, Xavier, Marquette, Oklahoma, Duke, Central Florida, Maryland, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Florida.

Total Package Red — the No. 2 squad — lost 75-52 to the Colorado Chaos 17s Red and 75-49 to the talented Houston Hoopstars Elite.

TP Red led most of the first half before becoming unglued against Colorado’s pressure. Against the Houston squad — one of the best select teams in the greater Houston area — the young Total Package club put up a good fight in the first half. Gig Harbor guard Sam Medak had the hot hand, Bremerton’s Terrick Maghee showed off his athleticism on some drives to the hoop and Olympic’s 6-foot-3  Kyle Featherstone got some things done inside while battling 6-7, 6-8 and 6-10 kids inside.

“They try to intimidate you,” South Kitsap incoming sophomore Nars Martinez said, walking to the minivan for the drive back to the motel. “I just turned 15 and these guys are all 17 and play like men.”

In two years, Martinez hopes to be on the other side of things. He’s just got his first taste of what big-time basketball is all about.

Friday’s schedule: Total Package Blue vs. Branch West Orange (Calif.), 12:30 p.m.; and vs. Colorado Chaos 16s Red, 6:45 p.m.. Total Package Red ends pool play against Branch West Red (Calif.) at 1:45 p.m.

After pool play, the 136 teams will be divided into eight-team brackets. Single-elimination play begins Saturday morning.


* Gary Franklin, a 6-3 guard who decommitted (is that a word?) from USC, is now on Washington’s radar. He’s playing with California Supreme — one of eight invited teams in Reebok’s invitation-only Create-N-Finish Cup. The other seven teams: Texas Bluechips, D-One Sports (North Carolina), New York Panthers, Team Detroit, Dakota Schoolers (S.D.), MBA Elite (Miss.) and Playaz Basketball Club (N.J.)

* Other state teams in the Reebok tourney: Eastern Washington Elite Blue, Eastern Washington Elite Red, Eastern Washington Elite White, Ferris Saxons, Northwest Panthers and Team Camas.

* Austin Hollins, son of Memphis Grizzlies coach, Lionel Hollins, is with the Nashville (Tenn.) Celtics in the adidas Super 64.

* Shabazz Muhammad. That’s a name that’s hard to forget and you might be hearing a lot about this hoops prodigy from Las Vegas. The Las Vegas Review-Journal ran this piece on him Thursday.

* Former Olympic College guard B.J. Letcher was in the crowd. Murray was an assisant at OC when Letcher played.

* If you’re a mainlining hoops addict, here’s the link that’ll get you all the results to the Reebok tourney.

Check back tomorrow for another update.

July Basketball, Vegas Style

The best young basketball players in the country, along with most of the top college coaches and their assistants, have arrived in Las Vegas.

I’ve never seen so many tall kids bouncing basketballs along the sidewalks, or in hotel/casino lobbies.

Welcome to big-time summer basketball.

I attended Total Package’s brief shootaround earlier today. It was held on an outdoor court about a 20-minute ride from where I’m staying in south Vegas to Henderson. John Eathorne, son of legendary Bremerton coach Les Eathorne, works for Henderson’s parks and rec department and made arrangements for the team to use the court. Total Package coach Rick Walker, the former East High star, played for Eathorne and lived near the Eathornes growing up.

Walker coaches Total Package Red. Craig Murray, the former Garfield star and Olympic College assistant, coaches Total Package Blue, the stronger of the two clubs. Both start play in the 136-team Reebok Summer Championships tomorrow. They’ll play three pool games and then be seeded into a championship bracket depending on how they finish in pool play.

Check out this link to the Total Package Web site. You’ll find rosters for TP Blue and TP Red and a link where you can follow them throughout the tournament. Walker took the pictures of the players at today’s practice. Will Diiorio of Bainbridge has been getting looks from teams like Pepperdine, Portland, Seattle Pacific and others.

Austin Jenkins and Troy Castle from Gig Harbor will join the team Friday. They’ve been attending a football camp back home.

In addition to the Reebok tourney, there’s also the adidas Super 64, VisionSports’ Main Event, a NIKE-affiliated tournament, and there’s also something called the StarVision Center Stage Tournament. Seattle Rotary Select, the team Marvin Williams used to play for, is in the Center Stage event. Top players include Josh Smith, the big man from Kentwood, and Garfield’s Tony Wroten Jr.

I’m going to meet later today with Murray and pick his brain about all of this summer basketball madness and get his take on it. Murray grew up when Ed Pepple was running the BCI (Basketball Congress International) program. He’s built Total Package into a highly-respected outfit. Steven Gray (Bainbridge/Gonzaga) and  Clarence Trent (Gig Harbor/Findlay Prep/UW) played for him in the summer, along with a slew of local kids who went on to small four-year schools.

This story in the Las Vegas Review-Journal breaks the tournaments down and lists some of the top players. If you read it,  you’ll discover that the Las Vegas Prospects (part of the adidas Super 64 tourney) will be playing in their fifth tournament this month.

July is the month, if you’re a young basketball player looking for exposure. NCAA rules now prohibit coaches from scouting players in a live game situation during the month of April. There’s two 10-day recruiting periods in July where coaches can see kids for themselves. They can’t talk to them, but they sit in the stands, evaluate and they watch. And be watched.

I”ll be there with them, taking in as many games as I can. Evalutating, watching and, hopefully, gaining some insight into all of this roundball madness.

Total Package and a lot of these teams will be in Los Angeles next week for the Best of Summer Tournament. I’ll be back home, putting together a story on what I learn this week.

If you have questions or comments, fire away. Hopefully, I’ll have answers.

Live From Las Vegas: That’s the Way It Is

My wife and I are sitting here, wondering what to do: stop by the House of Blues to catch a Prince review, head to the Shark Reef at the Mandalay Bay or just crash in the room. The later sounds pretty good right now.

We just finished watching the special on Walter Cronkite on CBS. What a smart, interesting man he was. He interviewed presidents, enjoyed the Greatful Dead and the symphony, was passionate about the space program and after visiting Viet Nam, he told his viewers that we had made a mistake by getting invovled in that war.

I’m getting off track.

This post was intended to let all three of my regular readers know that I’m taking a few days off.  But I will file some reports from Vegas later this week on the summer basketball tournaments going on down here. I’m going to follow Bremerton-based Total Package in the Reebok Summer Championships. Craig Murray and Rick Walker coach TP’s two squads, which include several of the top players from the Kitsap area as well as Gig Harbor.

There’s 136 teams featuring some of the best high school-aged players in the country in the Reebok tourney. Nike and adidas are also staging separate tournaments this week. Most of the action gets going Thursday. I’m going to catch up with Total Package Wednesday for  a practice and get some background on all this summer hoops stuff. It’s fascinatated me for years, and this turned out to be a good week to get away.

By the way, the Seahawks are favored by 7 to beat St. Louis is their Sept. 10 season opener, and Mariners are 75-1 longshots to win the World Series. And if you’d have bet $20 on the over/under (9 runs) on the M’s Saturday, you would have got $41 if you liked the under. Seattle beat Cleveland 3-1.

And 59-year-old golfer Tom Watson just made my all-time Goose Bump list. He didn’t win the British Open, but will there be a bigger story in sports in 2009?

By the way, I ran into Leo Ellis on the flight down. Leo and a group of Bremerton’s best bowlers are competing in the national championships this week.

Here’s hoping they get as hot as the weather — and it’s hot. It was 112 Saturday and it was supposed to reach 113 today.

Dang! Just figured out that I could have watched Blake Griffin, the NBA’s No. 1 pick, play tonight. It was the final night of the NBA Summer League and Griffin’s been tearing it up. Oh, well, maybe I’ll run into the next Blake Griffin later this week.

It’s too late for the the Prince review. I can see the sharks tomorrow.

That pillow looks pretty good.

Check back later this week for some basketball updates.

Ellison, IronPigs Looking Good in Their Tuxes

Check out South Kitsap star and ex-Seattle Mariner
Jason Ellison in this video, which was part of SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays. Now playing for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, Ellison was decked out in a tuxedo shirt to help commemorate a fans’ wedding at the ballpark.

Ellison, by the way, is hitting .241 for the IronPigs. He’ll be playing behind pitcher Pedro Martinez soon. Martinez recently signed with the Phillies, who plans to send him to Triple-A Lehigh to get in major-league shape.

While we’re at it, here’s a couple of other baseball links:

Jason Hammel, the Colorado Rockies’ right-hander by way of South Kitsap, told that he learned a lot of life’s lessons from his late father, who passed away when Jason was 17.

This story doesn’t go into great detail, but with shorstop Yunieski Betancourt activated by the Royals, it looks like Willie Bloomquist — another SK grad in the big leagues — will find himself in center field on a regular basis.

All About Soccer and Triathlons

The Kitsap Pumas sailed to Victoria today to take on the Highlanders in a USL Premier Development League match. The Pumas, who’ve already clinched the top spot in the Northwest Division, are trying to finish their inaugural season without a loss.

They end the regular season on Sunday with a 1 p.m. game against Tacoma at Curtis High. The Narrows Bridge Bell will be at stake in this one. Check out David Falk’s piece in the Seattle Examiner. Port Orchard’s Falk came up with the idea for the Narrows Bridge Bell. Tacoma and Kitsap tied 1-1 earlier in the season, so it this one ends up in a tie, the team that scores last wins the Bell.

The Pumas also enter the weekend with a chance to overtake the Ottawa Fury as the PDL team with the most points for the season. That would be a huge accomplishment, considering there’s 68 PDL clubs.

The Pumas have a bye into the playoffs and will host the Seattle-Portland winner on July 25 or 26. We’ve been told the Seattle-Portland match might also be played at Bremerton Memorial Stadium the day before.

While we wait for it all to unfold, here’s a little video from Monday’s scrimmage  against the Seattle Sounders reserve at Starfire, courtesy

And in case you missed it, The Sun’s Jeff Graham wrote about the Pumas’ team-first mentality earlier in the week. The story also included information about the club’s new coaches’ show that airs weekly on KITZ 1400 AM.

The first-year franchise has exceeded all of my expectations, and they’re starting to draw some attention across the water, too. Check out this story on

You want to know what those crazy Sounders’ fans are singing and chanting at Qwest Field. Read this post by David Falk at The Examiner.

Wonder if Falk or any of other fans are going to do the soccer triathlon this weekend — watching the Pumas tonight in Victoria, the Sounders vs. soccer giant Chelsea Saturday at Qwest and Pumas at  Tacoma on Sunday.

That would be almost as grueling as the executive triathlon I often do at the Kitsap Family YMCA. You know, the sauna, whirlpool and steam bath.

Columnist Weighs In on Marvin’s Options

Here’s a link to Mark Bradley’s column in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about Marvin Williams. He’s not a big fan of the Bremerton High product, and suggests that the 23-year-old restricted free agent take a one-year qualifying offer.

“… You were hoping for something like what Josh Smith got last summer — a $58 million offer over five seasons from Memphis, which the Hawks matched not long after it had been initialed. But the economy is worse in July 2009 than in July 2008, and you’re not viewed as the commodity Smith was. You’re a complementary part, not a game-changer.

“The best long-term offer you’re apt to get from the Hawks is roughly your qualifying offer times five — say, $37.5 million over five years. You, naturally, think you’re worth more. So here’s what you do:

“You take the one-year qualifying offer and spend the next 11 1/2 months proving yourself. You force yourself to become more forceful. You become a key player, as opposed to the least essential starter, on what is becoming a very good team. You leave no doubt next time around.”

Make sure you read the comments. There’s a lot of Hawks’ fans who appreciate Marvin’s all-around game.

Some of the comments make for some interesting reading.

Villwock Idles His Way to Another Gold Cup Victory

Ooops! Forgot the link. Here it is.

Port Orchard native Dave Villwock outsmarted his fellow drivers to grab the inside lane for the finals of the Gold Cup on the Detroit River on Sunday.

Here’s the Detroit News’ story about Villwock’s latest victory — No. 58 all-time in his career. If the 55-year-old Villwock and the Miss Elam Plus can sweep the final four races of the season, he’ll pass Chip Hanauer (61) and tie the late Will Muncey (62) as unliminted hydroplane’s winningest driver.

Pumas Photos, Video, Coverage

Congratulations to the Kitsap Pumas for winning the Northwest Division of the United States Soccer Leagues Premier Development League. They’re secured homefield advantage for the first round of the playoffs. They will host either Seattle or Portland over the July 24-26 weekend. Seattle and Portland clinched playoff berths and are dueling for the No. 2 seed.

Here’s Jeff Graham’s story on the Pumas’ title-clinching victory over Abbotsford on Saturday. Jeff will be traveling to the Starfire complex in Tukwila on Monday to watch the Pumas informal scrimmage againt the Seattle Sounders’ reserves. Look for his report in Tuesday’s print editions. Jeff’s also working on a feature, centering on a group of players who share a house in Bremerton. It’ll be an up-close-and-personal look at what these guys are like away from the field. Look for that story next Sunday.

You can also find a slideshow, photos and coverage of the Pumas last game at Seattle Examiner’s online site.

Update on Marvin: Agent Says Deal Not in Place

Bremerton’s Marvin Williams said he’s not agreed to terms with the Atlanta Hawks. Here’s the latest report on his status from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. An earlier report by seemed to indicate that the deal was nearly done. Apparently not, although everybody seems to think that Williams and the Hawks will hammer it out before long.

NFL Links: Alexander on ‘Tour for Jesus’ … and More

Shaun Alexander hasn’t given up on returning to the NFL. Here’s the latest on the former NFL MVP.

Mike Sando of said linebacker Aaron Curry of the Seahawks is most impressive rookie he saw during a tour of NFC West minicamps.

Ochocinco wants to Twitter during NFL games, but the league won’t let him.

 The last time Jim Mora debuted as a team’s head coach, he led the 2004 Falcons all the way to the NFC title game. Seattle hopes another big first season awaits. That’s one of the NFL storylines Don Banks of writes about.

Is bad news good news for the NFL? Here’s a commentary on the subject.