Team chemistry vital for summer-league success

BY MATT CABEL | JULY 11, 2013 5:00 AM

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Some things are missing for Iowa basketball players participating in the Prime Time League.

Teams consist of players from a multitude of different schools around the state of Iowa. Only two Hawkeyes are allowed on each team, with the exception of incoming freshmen, per NCAA rules.

There are no practices, no film sessions. Fran McCaffery isn’t yelling on the sidelines.

What they do have, however, is a basketball, two 20-minute halves, a shot clock, and referees. And that’s all they really need — it doesn’t matter if they’ve played one game together or 100.

“Basketball can be played as a game where you don’t have to have plays,” league Commissioner Randy Larson said. “You just work together and move. There are certain things that are timeless: give and go, screen and roll, three-man game, feed the post and make them react to that, and go inside, outside — those kind of things are always available.”

Forward Zach McCabe said developing summer-league team chemistry is tough, but he uses his leadership skills learned from playing on the Iowa basketball team on the court to his advantage.

“Obviously, these guys have been playing basketball their whole lives, too,” McCabe said. “They adapt just as well as we do.”

McCabe’s team with fellow Hawkeye Gabe Olaseni is the only undefeated team left in the league after it defeated Larson’s team with Hawkeyes Anthony Clemmons and Jarrod Uthoff on Sunday. Olaseni believes he plays on a “complete team,” whereas McCabe believes the team finds success through the strong chemistry gained over the four weeks of play.

“Our team’s not just one or two people, it’s our all-around team,” McCabe said. “… We play good team ball together.”

Olaseni said his team’s first game was the most difficult, because the players “didn’t know what each other did.” But the junior and his teammates quickly learned each other’s abilities, tendencies, and strategies.

“You can tell who likes to shoot 3s, who plays defense. The plays that coach has put in allows you to see what guys do,” said Olaseni, noting that gelling with his teammates gets easier every game. “… We have good guard play, big guys that understand our roles — I think we’re playing pretty well right now.”

Other teams in the league have not been as successful as Olaseni’s and McCabe’s when it comes down to chemistry. Coach Kevin Sanders’ team didn’t acquire a single win until guards Devyn Marble and Josh Oglesby hit the court together on Sunday, becoming the tandem duo the group needed for a win.

Oglesby had missed every previous summer game with a finger injury, and Marble missed two games while trying out for the World University Games in Colorado Springs, Colo.

“You could tell I was enjoying it,” Marble said about having Oglesby return to the court. “Now that he’s healthy, he’s back, and when we have all our pieces, this is a good team. We’re going to make a late-season push in the Prime Time.”

For Larson, drafting a team comes down to choosing players he knows will work well together and share the basketball. He believes his team’s lone loss in Prime Time occurred because his team was focused too much on matchup advantages instead of sharing the ball and looking for the open man.

“If there’s someone who just wants to play just on the offensive end, I’m not going to take him,” Larson said. “If they’re somebody who wants to play on both ends and be an unselfish player … that’s a little bit rare, and those are the guys you love to be able to find. If I can’t find them, I’ll take the ones that are unselfish and just hope the teamwork can overcome the lack of scoring ability.

“My attitude is that teamwork always beats talent.”

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