Archive for the ‘Citybeat’ Category

Citybeat: A whole new type of coaching pressure

Posted: December 27, 2011 by Jared Field in Citybeat

I know the first column of the new basketball season is normally a city basketball season preview and I will get to that, but right now there is so much more weighing heavier on my mind.

Coaching….yes, coaching.

I am not talking “new” city coaches Lamont Torbert (NW) and Garner Pleasant (Northern). Nor am I speaking of Nate Brown (SWA girls), Jeff Whitely (NW girls), or Shalana Taylor (Northern girls). What has really got my mind moving is a number of old coaches that is making it incredibly more difficult to be a coach in this day and age. I am talking about Jerry Sandusky, Bernie Fine, Robert Dodd, and Graham James.



Left to right, Jon Lee, Anthony Crater and Reggie Stallings.

After checking up on Flint area kids at the JUCO and Division III/NAIA levels, here is a rundown of local kids helping Division I and Division II college teams this season. As always, if we’re missing any, let me know in the comments and I will add them in.


Greg Burks retired from basketball after a productive pro career in Germany.

Because he’s never been the biggest guy on a basketball court, Flint Northern grad Greg Burks has spent his basketball career proving people wrong.

Out of high school, he ended up going to small Prairie View A & M where he turned himself into one of the best guards in the country at that level. His standout college career turned into a successful pro basketball career spent in Germany.

Burks, who is often found working out in Flint area gyms as well as working with the city’s young players, recently decided to retire from basketball. Below are a few questions with him about his career:


Left to right, Vince Adams, Ryan Hickoff, Syrus McDonald and Shaquille Smith.

I’ve been contributing some articles to Michigan Preps, the state’s Rivals-owned, subscription-based high school sports page, throughout the last month or so, and they’re online if anyone has a pays to subscribe and wants to check them out. Here are excerpts from a few recent ones: (more…)

The weekly updates to the Flint area standings and scoring leaders are posted through last Friday’s games. Send any corrections or omissions to patrickhayes13(at)gmail(dot)com or leave them in the comments.

— Patrick Hayes | Great Lakes Hoops

Denzel Watts is attracting high major interest with his play this season.

Carman-Ainsworth’s Denzel Watts is part of the talented crop of Flint area sophomore point guards that also includes Monte Morris (Beecher), Richie Lewis (Northern) and Cullen Turczyn (Lapeer West). Watts is having a fantastic season, averaging more than 20 points per game, and his mix of size and quickness is garnering high major interest. He recently talked to UM Hoops about his college prospects: (more…)

Flint city basketball not recession-proof

Posted: February 10, 2011 by Jared Field in Citybeat, High School

Before I get anyone upset, let’s be clear about both my love of basketball in Flint over the years and, derived from that, my support of it.

I think, at this point, it’s fair to question whether basketball in the City of Flint has ever been lower than it is today. Meaningful games against good teams from outside of the area have gone from wins in the past to losses today. The competitive nature of city basketball appears lost.

Case in point is Flint Northern’s loss to Flint Powers tonight. The Vikings ended up losing by nine, which is respectable considering that Powers is among the top teams in the state. However, try this one for size:

Down 24-21 with two and a half minutes left in the first half Wednesday night, Northern’s guards held the ball in the backcourt. Boos cascaded down from the stands, and for good reason.

Did someone in Flint steal a playbook from Lapeer West? Are you kidding me? How can any coach demand aggression out of players when he’s the basketball equivalent of a conscientious objector?

Where has the fear factor gone? Why is it that suburban teams are no longer afraid to play city teams? Where’s the toughness, intimidation and aggression that was the stock-in-trade of the great city teams of the past?

So far this season I’ve seen a city team embarrassed by Fenton; another embarrassed by Carman-Ainsworth and neither had to leave the city limits for the pleasure. I’ve also see zones, lots of 2-3 zones … typically the least aggressive style of defense. And if you don’t don’t expect aggressiveness on the defensive end, how can you expect it on the offensive end.

It’s gut-check time for Flint basketball.

— By Jared Field | Great Lakes Hoops

FLINT, Michigan — With the crowd, the officials and school administrators in a hurry to get this game in the books, it appeared Northwestern was more interested in watching the Weather Channel from home on Tuesday night. The Wildcats played uninspired basketball for four quarter, losing at home 65-52 to Carman-Ainsworth.

The Wildcats led after the first quarter and basically sleepwalked their way through the rest of the game, trailing by as many as 16 after a fourth-quarter technical on head coach David Bush.

The bulk of the scoring for the Cavaliers came by way of Denzel Watts and Anton Wilson. Watts is really impressive. I have to remind myself that I’m not watching Glenn Cosey anymore. This kid is only a sophomore.

Northwestern was led by seniors Syro McDonald and Jaylen Magee. I don’t have any official stats because I wanted to get in out of the storm as soon as possible, but both were in the teens.

I mentioned the officials earlier, and I guess I can’t blame them for being in a hurry. There was one play in particular in which Wilson was so far out of bounds with the ball that he actually stopped on a fastbreak … the only problem was that no whistle was blown. It was one of the most peculiar things I’ve seen.

— By Jared Field | Great Lakes Hoops

Jeff Grayer talked about the importance of basketball to Flint's history.

I have a series running at SLAM currently that attempts to rank the top 30  NBA/ABA-producing high schools of all-time, and two Michigan schools are in this week, Flint Northwestern at No. 23 and Lansing Everett at No. 21.

For the series, I talked to alums from some of the schools. Jeff Grayer had this to say about Northwestern:

“When I was growing up, there were two things Flint was known for. One was General Motors, of course, and the other was sports. Basketball has always been a history, a tradition in our community. It’s meant so much to the area. High school basketball has been just a pillar of the community and something that everyone looked forward to, just going and seeing the young talent grow and see some of the greats who have come out of here today.”

Here’s Desmond Ferguson on the tradition at Everett:

“That reputation [that Everett has] does the same thing that Magic (Johnson) did for my generation and generations before and after me … it provided hope. It sounds cliché, but it’s so true. So many young boys and girls fail to reach their dreams because they do not feel any sense of hope. When you have individuals that come from the same background, environment and communities as you, and they are successful, you tend to feel that you may be able to reach that same type of success as well.”

The series is called ‘High School Hierarchy‘, so check out the link to scroll through the schools SLAM has unveiled so far. There will be five more listed each Thursday until we get to No. 1, and without giving too much away, there will be at least one more Michigan school to look for on the list.

— By Patrick Hayes | Great Lakes Hoops

Shaq Smith‘s name hasn’t gained a lot of traction since he was a freshman on varsity at Flint Northern a few years back. At that time, people talked about Smith like he could be the next great guard out of Flint.

Fast forward to his senior season and he’s certainly not that, but he’s really good.

Smith led Northern to victory last night on the road at Carman-Ainsworth and looked smooth doing it. He’s the most explosive player in the area from point A to point B. He’s still an elite finisher in the lane, but he has added an extra dimension to his game that we’ve only seen flashes of before: peripheral vision.