Another day back in the gym as a another good day in my book! Still limited to the activity and lack of contact it was more of a teaser than anything but it was exciting to see who has been working on their game during this three month break! The Lady Hoopers are set for their first tournament this weekend as they attempt to turn it up a notch and get ready to kick it into high gear this summer. What caught my attention were the parents and coaches driving over an hour from several different locations just to gather for a week night practice. A big shout out goes out to the parents as well as the coaches transporting the girls to and from.... not enough credit goes to both parties for the sacrifice it takes to get to that next level!
Photo Credit: The Advocate / Tia Owens Powers
Coach Mark Temple has coached the top team in the Lady Hooper program for the past couple of years and he continues to help a lot of young women given them an avenue to play basketball at the next level. We caught up with coach with a quick Q&A talking about the new look of basketball this summer:
What are some of the challenges you have faced with Covid-19 and what does the new normal look like for summer AAU this year?
Like most coaches I began to get antsy towards the end of Phase 1. I’m a very detailed oriented coach and I enjoy the process of developing players. However with so many restrictions due to Covid-19 you had to be creative with your approach. Coach Paul Easton of Drills and Skills Basketball and Coach Drew Halen helped me a lot during this time. Plus watching LGR and various Zoom basketball clinics kept me sane. I hot the opportunity to learn from various Coaches and add to my coaching toolbox. AAU this season will be uncharted waters. I think you will see a higher intensity during games due to players being away from sports for so long. In the beginning I think you will have to knock of rust, but I believe the play will be intense.
How hard has it been to find games/gyms to practice in and where all do you plan on playing tournaments?
The hard part isn’t looking for the tourneys, it’s doing your research and due diligence on how Covid-19 has effected different areas and choosing places to play. Also assuring parents that your program will do everything to assure their daughters are safe. As for the aspect of finding a gym I’m blessed to be able to have gym access. However practice can’t be traditional. You can’t scrimmage and you have to do a lot of drill against air. When going to tourneys you will have to learn on the fly what works and what adjustments need to be made.
How long has the Louisiana Lady Hoopers program been around and why is this program important to you?
The Lady Hoopers have been around for 3 years now. It was put together by John and Leslie Viltz and they have done a great job providing us with resources to help our young ladies be successful on and off the court. This program is important because in the AAU atmosphere you don’t have that many small organizations around. Most of the AAU scene is filled with big name teams with big name sponsors. We play with a chip on our shoulder. Most of girls were either overlooked or cut by another organization. We take them and develop them to be productive on and off the court.
What are things that can take OUR game, Louisiana girls basketball to another level?
Skill development is key to taking our girls' game to the next level. Also investing resources into girls basketball. If we as a collective unit invest time into going to Collegiate girls basketball games, going to clinics, looking at the Texas or California model we can take Louisiana girls basketball to the next level.
What excites you most about your team this summer?
What excites me about my team this summer is seeing the progress we’ve made from last summer. It’s bittersweet however because this will be my last summer with some of my girls. I’ve had them since 9th grade and you’re happy as a coach to see them move on to achieve their dreams, but it’s also hurts to see them go. You form a bond with them over the years and they become your family.
Who stood out:
(No five on five so this was tough)
Ya'Jaia Goudeau / North Central / 2022 / G / 5'9
From the first drill they started you could imminently tell she has been working on her handles! She stood out from the rest with her size and craftiness. The Lady Hoopers as well as the North Central Hurricanes will really be counting on her to continue this rise and take her game to the next level. This is one to keep an eye in the next couple of years.
Taylor Gordon / East Iberville / 2022 / G / 5'6
Another player that stood out based on the improvement she made during this three month down time.... she has some wiggle to her to go along with good vision. Certainly made a mark to evaluate her again can't wait to see her in action this summer and coming HS season.
Alayshea Veal / Northside / 2023 / F / 6'0
She stood out with her size despite being the youngest player in the gym. Her long frame allows her to be a natural shot blocker. The lefty also showed some potential on the offensive end hitting several 15ft jumpers and creating off the bounce.
Breyionce George / Lafayette / 2022 / G / 5'9
Although the team didn't do much competitive activity due to Covid-19 Breyionce stood out as a high level athlete and you could tell she can defend at a preeminent level. She also was shooting the 3 ball at a constant rate.... She'll be a great 3 & D type player for the Lady Hoopers now but I think her skill set will also continue to evolve her all around game in the next couple of years.
Dedreka Wilson / East Ibberville / 2021 / F / 5'8
Undersized forward with good footwork. The team did mostly perimeter skill work so it was good to see her ability to handle the ball despite not getting the chance to see her work on the block. She's got nice hands and moves well... she'll be a good option on the low block for both the Lady Hoopers and East Ibberville this year.