With the maze of already established and ever growing list of Canadian summer travel teams, it’s tough to be able to get a good program off the ground.
That was the task of Handel Kipp, the Coach of Ontario’s latest team, The Association.
Having just come off of a good showing at the Kentucky 4 The Roses Tournament, we caught up with Kipp to get the lowdown on his team, some of the players that helped his team get the job done in Lexington and what the future may have in store.
“[They’re] a great bunch of girls that don’t even know each other, but work like they‘ve been playing together for years”, said Kipp, pleased with how well the chemistry has set in for the group of girls that had been together for about a month.
He did however go on to note that their good showing could have been made better along with a couple of key members missing from their lineup. Missing were Guards Tiffany Reynolds and Akilah Stewart of whom he said the team missed their leadership roles.
“Missing those two girls in the tournament, kind of hurt us. We still found a way to compete and get our job done.”
As expected his star Guard, Janika Griffith-Wallace has drew a lot of attention from Coaches. According to Kipp she was fully engaged and pumped to play throughout the tournament, which yielded to the positive results she encountered. She has good size and scoring ability, but it was something else that her Summer Team Coach noticed that also help her to make an impact.
“She scores in multiple ways, although what I found out about her is that Janika is not really a scorer first. She likes to control the pace also. She did a lot of finding her teammates and making sure they are in the right spots, and when she had opportunity to create for herself, she created for herself.”
Helping the team out in the size department, was Curryl Watson, who according to Kipp said was a “tenacious rebounder” and had a “good touch around the basket”. He said that Watson had garnered some interest among Coaches calling him and the topic of her penetrating spin move has come up frequently among them.
Despite her size, her style of play and the system that the team runs, Watson for his is well suited to play the Wing position
“We played her at the 4, but we operated out of a 5 out system. Curryl also played Wing and sometimes Curryl brings the ball up for us, because she has handles. We didn’t sit her in the Post. But, she just has a natural nack of when she’s even on the Wing, and a shots up; she just goes to crash boards”, said Kipp “Her perimeter defense is actually pretty good, she gets really low, and plays really good D from the outside. She actually plays better D from the outside than the inside.”
Makeba Taylor was also a name that Kipp mentioned that played well for the Association. Kipp mentioned that she could defend multiple positions and that her athleticism opened the door to many opportunities to do some of the little things that made up a lot of his team’s success. She earned several blocks per game as a guard and rebounded well. On offence she mixed it up well and did a good job meshing with teammates.
“Her penetration is what really separates her from a lot of people. Because Makeba is a pass first Guard, when her penetration draws attention, she already has her head up looking to get rid of the ball. And, she finds people, which creates open opportunities for our shooters. Her and Janika worked well in the back court. When they’re both pushing the ball together, it looks good.”
“She also showed that she can score the ball in multiple ways, but she wasn’t looking for that often because she like s to create for others. That is one of the things that she needs to do now: Look for her options a little bit more.”
All in all, Kipp felt his team put on a very good performance, even quickly mentioning Ellen Ovgrinov whom he felt did a good job shooting beyond the arc to help stretch the defence.
With sights now set on their next big event, the USJN National 15U-12U Championships in Washington, DC, Kipp knows exactly what type of expectation of what his team will accomplish on the court.
“Just expect that our girls are coming to compete. What we’ve been preaching for a lot is all eleven girls as one unit. They want to showcase well for the Coaches. They want to go there to win the tournament. [The girls are tweetiting, getting excited] That’s just that mental focus that’s coming off of the disappointment of coming short in tournaments.”
As for the the style of defence, Kipp say, that he’ll be releasing the hounds and looking to create a lot of pressure on opponents
“Pitbull defense. Fast, up in tempo. We’re not going to be afraid to get in your face. We’re going to play hard aggressive, man-to-man, full-court…pick you up…tyry to keep in as much time in as possible in contain, and try to turn this into a track meet. Anytime we’re in a half court set, and you have us in man-to man, we’re going five out…space the court, open penetration for people and create a lot of space for our shooters. That’s what’s been working for us and that what were going to stick to.”