- Adam Finkelstein
One of the most common complaints about the grassroots schedule is that kids play so many games that winning and losing becomes devalued. A similar complaint is that by the time the best teams in the field actually match up, it’s typically on Sunday afternoon when they’re worn down from multiple games already played, resulting in sloppy and anti-climatic championship rounds that are often hard to evaluate.
Nike became the first to address this concern with the way it constructed its Elite Youth Basketball League. Similar to AAU nationals, teams never play more than two games in a day and are consequently fresher and able to perform at a higher level.
While I don’t necessarily disagree with any of the above, I also think there is plenty to be learned by Sunday afternoon basketball where talented players are often far less than 100 percent, both physically and mentally.
In many ways, those conditions aren’t that different from what college players go through during the course of their season. And in both cases certain patterns tend to emerge.
While college players will never be asked to be play five or six games in the same weekend, many of them will face a physical burden beyond anything they’ve ever experienced as they’ll practice longer and harder than ever before, while doing similar work in the weight room. The mental grind is no less taxing as they’ll have to keep up with their academic work, study scouting reports and film, while dealing with the emotional roller coaster that many college students experience even if they aren’t scholarship athletes.
The truth of the matter is that the college game and grassroots game are very different ones, but not without similar challenges. College players have to overcome physical and mental fatigue if they’re to be successful, especially come the month of March, so what happens on a Sunday afternoon of a spring AAU or grassroots tournament can sometimes be a good indicator of things to come a year or two down the road.
Because often times it’s the guys who play through those challenges and rise to the occasion on Saturday afternoon, who will do the exact same thing under similar circumstances in college.