"It's All About The Game"

Details and talent can propel Takeover to great heights






Robert Stephens, Featured Writer

Squad focusing on little things, hopes for big results.


April 15, 2014
- When watching a Team Takeover practice early one weekend day, the team's talent jumped out at you (more on that later), but it was not alone in doing so. TT's prime 17u crew was being pushed not only physically but mentally.

Sure they were installing sets, particularly full court defensive schemes, but it was the need to focus that stood as this practice's overarching theme was simple. Details. And that word could take Takeover far this spring/summer.

Frank Howard, is trapped by Josh Reaves and Kevin Dorsey (l. to r.).

"It's very important, because I think it's a big difference between here and college...also at that EYBL level" said assistant coach Ray Brewer after the session, touching on the need to dial in on the little aspects of basketball. Additionally, Brewer shared "I think we're doing a great job definitely with this group on details, especially because they're so gifted, talent wise. We feel once we get the basics of the shells, being in the right position, on the rotation, then everything else will come".

Speaking of the team's skill and ability, few travel teams on paper will match up this summer. Brewer likened them to "that Gaucho group with Kemba Walker and all those dudes, those guards". That would be the NY Gauchos of around eight, nine years ago, a team boasting Walker, the future NCAA champion, NBA first round pick and current high level performer, Doron Lamb, NCAA champ and NBA guy, Truck Bryant, Durant Scott, Jordan Theodore and Chris Fouch, the last trio standing as standout college guys and eventual professionals.

Brewer is drawing a Takeover parallel to guards Kevin Dorsey, Bryant Crawford, Frank Howard (headed to Syracuse), Justin Jenifer, and Josh Reaves. Add the likes of future Georgetown Hoya Marcus Derrickson, Abdulai Bundu, Sam Miller, Collin Goss and Joe Hugley, a group that helps make up a formidable frontcourt unit.

"The majority of them have been together since 15 and under " shared Brewer. As such there is an understanding and familiarity borne of time and experience. For the new guys like Miller and Hugley, the coach instructed his charges to "grind and bring them along".

Takeover's backcourt, including Justin Jenifer (above), will seem like a blur to foes this travel team season.

Another newcomer is 7'1", 260 pound center Georgios Papagiannis. Does Brewer think having a guard lineup as the team has - All five can drive, score and shoot - plus a scorer like Derrickson and guys such as Miller and Goss who are capable of putting up numbers mean means there will not be enough balls to go around?

"Play through him" answered Brewer. " You know if he touches it, cut. Use ball screens with him. And I think he's going to stretch the floor out more. It's going to give us great spacing, to where it's going to be hard to really guard us".

Further adding to spreading defenses out will be perimeter shooting, which Brewer labeled "a key with us", since "We have a lot of guys that can go off the bounce. I think if we can make enough shots, it's going to be real tough on them (foes).

So what head coach Keith Stevens, Brewer and Takeover has is a talented, deep team that's being coached to concentrate on the seemingly trivial but hugely important segments of the game - spacing, ball sharing, role acceptance. Many teams receive the same tutelage, but are undone by a big, three letter word, ego.

" The ego got out 15 and under, 16 and under. It was big" said Brewer, alluding to the fact most of these guys have history together, have fought in the trenches, experienced ups and downs. "So now I think they all understand it's bigger than myself...everything happens when it's together" .

Brewers role is to help maintain that cohesion, describing it as "If there's something wrong, just be a glue guy on the coaching staff...being that guy that the kids can fall back on when things are not going their way".

Along a challenging Nike Elite Youth Basketball League season that will surely occur. But if Team Takeover's 17u EYBL team focuses and dials down on details, the sky's the limit this year. They too could be mentioned with some of the best travel teams in recent memory.

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