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Iowa basketball sports camp wraps up

BY TAYLOR AXELSON | JUNE 22, 2012 6:30 AM

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Walking into the Field House on a day of the Hawkeye Basketball Camp is overwhelming. More than 185 boys between the ages of 8 and 12 run up and down the basketball courts, each one bouncing a basketball.

The noise is deafening, but over it all, "Space Jam" by the Quad City DJs is played through numerous speakers.

An average day for a camper started out with 45 minutes of fundamentals led by Iowa men's head coach Fran McCaffery. Station work was next. The campers were run through drills to expand their understanding of the game from passing to shooting to defense.

"Even though they're really small and can't get the ball very far, just to learn the good fundamentals of shooting is really important," Garrett Rasmussen, a volunteer training to be an Iowa basketball manager said. "It's really cool that the kids get to mess around with the players and meet the Iowa coaches."

Every day there is a Tip of the Day. Assistant coaches Sherman Dillard and Kirk Speraw made appearances to help the campers learn how to become better shooters and how to make certain offensive plays as a team.

"The key thing to learn at this age is to play together. A lot of guys this young feel like it's necessary to be a one-on-one type player," former Hawkeye Jarryd Cole said. "In the NBA, they only know individual players. [The campers] want to model their game after them. At this young age, that's not a good thing to do because it develops bad habits. I try to teach them as best I can to play together, pass the ball, and move without the ball."

Current Iowa players were able to help with the camp. Many of the players came between their classes and workouts to interact with the kids.

"I always try to come during my free time. I referee, do the clocks, and talk to the kids. They all have questions," Devyn Marble said. " 'Can you please dunk?' I get it every day. They watch our games, and really look up to us, and someday hope they can play at the same level."

Most of the campers are avid Hawkeye basketball fans and are well informed about the program.

"The kids recognize me and always ask me different things," Cole said. " 'Why don't you play for the Hawkeyes anymore?' 'When is Melsahn Basabe coming?' 'Can I meet Matt Gatens?' They ask me to dunk about 100 times a day, but I'll only do it once."

The campers chant "DUNK" at every possible moment when a Hawkeye basketball player is in the vicinity. The campers are relentless, and the players eventually do give in. The dunks receive as much cheering and applause as they would during a normal game.

"The key thing with our camp is the kids get to know the Iowa players as people. Our players are just kids at heart," said Jerry Strom, the director of Iowa basketball operations. "The Iowa players are really good with kids. The kids go crazy when they walk in. They're young adults, but when you put them around 10-year-olds, they become a 10-year-old themselves."


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