Adidas tournament a nice fit for Tahoe
South Tahoe club basketball players came away from last week’s Adidas Big Time basketball tournament in Las Vegas realizing how important structure and team play are to their success.
“I think we gained a lot of respect because were were one of the few teams who played as a team. With most of the teams the first guy shot the ball right off the bat or dribbled and shot. We’ve been playing together since we were little and I think it showed down there,” said forward/center Travis McCollum, looking back on South Tahoe’s 3-3 record and semifinal appearance in the third-place pool in Las Vegas. “I don’t think it will give us too much confidence, but it lets us know we can play with everyone as long as we don’t get caught running up and down the court.”
Guard John Giannoni impressed some college coaches with his sparkling play, but was pleased with the development of the senior-oriented team.
“We had a pretty good run in it, and we didn’t do anything that we should hang our heads,” he said. “I scored pretty good, but I would have rather won and gone on to the next round.”
South Tahoe suffered its only double-digit loss to Slam and Jam in the semifinals on Sunday. This came after impressive playoff wins over the Inland All-Stars of Seattle and Los Angeles Rockfish on Saturday.
“We cut it down to nine points a couple of times, but we didn’t get much closer than that. Fundamental-wise they were probably the best team we played, but athletically we played against a lot better guys,” Giannoni said.
South Tahoe played most of the semifinal, which was watched by Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski and Utah coach Rick Majerus, without 6-6 center Bobby Larmore, who sprained an ankle in the previous game.
In addition, South Tahoe played the final five games without its longtime coach Tom Orlich. Orlich left those duties to STHS junior varsity coach Ken Reneer while tending to a three-day camp at the high school.
“The kids are used to responding to me and Ken went there in a tough tournament situation and got the kids to play hard and together,” Orlich said.
Players came away impressed with Reneer’s varsity coaching debut.
“We had a different rotation without coach there. Guys were coming off the bench and stepping up in rebounding and we got points from different guys, which helped a lot,” Giannoni said. “A plus for me was that I had to step up my team leadership more and be more vocal than usual. The negative in some situations coach might have done some things differently.
“But (Reneer) talked us up and kept us motivated. He did a tremendous job given that coach gave him that big of a tournament to coach in.”
Added McCollum, “We’re used to (Reneer) being there in the locker room this summer. Having him run the whole show was different, but I think we responded to him well.”
After missing all of last season except for a token technical foul shot, McCollum is ecstatic with the progress his surgically repaired anterior cruciate knee ligament and overall game have made.
“I’m just glad to be out there again, and my knee feels great. I feel back to normal helping the team in a lot of areas,” said McCollum, who wears a knee brace that is hardly noticeable because of its sock cover. “You kind of savor every game now because there’s only one year left for me. I have to make every game count now.”
The club season continues this weekend with a tournament at De La Salle High in the Bay Area, and then it’s off to Orlando, Fla., where South Tahoe hopes to play one of Florida’s reigning state champions.
“We can play with anyone, but we just have to recognize how we play basketball and not play other teams’ games,” McCollum said.
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