695HOOPS WHERE IT'S ALWAYS ALL ABOUT THE GIRLS
The Maryland Hurricanes have been around for over 20 years. They have produced countless college players and are regularly in the mix in the MD State AAU tournament. Marvin Greene has been involved with the organization for over ten years and was gracious enough to answer a few questions for 695Hoops.
695: The Maryland Hurricanes have been around for over 20 years. Tell me about your role in the organization.
Marvin: I began my “career” with the Hurricanes back maybe 10-11 years ago when my daughter, Paige, was a 9-under player. She is now a sophomore guard at Trinity College in Hartford, CT. So I started as a parent of a player just learning to play AAU girls basketball and began to get more involved in the organization. In 2004 I began serving as volunteer president until the summer of 2010 when we installed a new president and board. I remain a member of the board and am focusing my efforts these days less on coaching and building teams and more on development, fund-raising and sponsorships.
695: What type of challenges are you facing as an organization?
Marvin: Since we, like most AAU clubs in the Maryland District, are a voluntary organization, getting enough dedicated volunteers to work with you is the biggest challenge. Mostly that means volunteer coaches, but you also need volunteers among the parents of your players to help administer teams, do fund-raising and help the coaches with planning. One thing we know for sure is that each year there will be plenty of young-girl basketball players and their parents looking to get to the next level of competitive basketball. As an independent volunteer organization, we always need help to meet that demand. Most AAU clubs do not have a recreation program to fall back on. Just like some of the other clubs out there, we are just pleased we have been around and can assist girls in their basketball development.
695: Some years are better than others. Have you ever considered shutting the program down?
Marvin: Some years are better than others. You always want to win Maryland District AAU championships and have teams that can be competitive nationally, but that doesn’t always happen for many reasons. Our No. 1 goal as an organization always has been to teach fundamentals and sportsmanship to kids to prepare them to play competitively in high school and maybe beyond. We believe we do that as well as anybody out there, so there always is a need. We’ve never considered shutting down. We are one of the few AAU organizations out there that consistently has managed to have teams in most age groups and we will field anywhere from 7 to 10 teams in a given year. In addition, unlike some other clubs that are community or neighborhood based, our players are spread out around the region, including from Baltimore city and Baltimore, Howard, Carroll, Anne Arundel and Harford counties. We even expect to field teams in 2011 that are based on the Eastern Shore.
695: Do you think the number of clubs in the area hurts or helps the game?
Marvin: Baltimore and the Maryland District certainly have an interesting dynamic when it comes to girls AAU basketball, especially over the last decade. At one time, all the best players and coaches would migrate to a few clubs, such as the Hurricanes, Sure Shots, Baltimore Cougars and the old Maryland Waves. These were the clubs that consistently would win state championships year after year. Then starting in the early 2000s, you began to see a proliferation here of what I term “Dad Clubs” -- where one or two parents would form a team or two around their daughters but not have other teams in the organization. Then, often using their resources and connections, they would attract other players along for the ride, usually classmates. A good example was the Maryland Magic club of a few years ago that won a couple of AAU state championships and now are no longer on the scene after that group graduated high school. That is not to disparage them, but we’ve seen quite a few such clubs recently when they did not exist much before. Another dynamic has to do with geography. The Maryland District in AAU covers the entire state except for Prince George’s and Montgomery counties. So because we are so spread out in the district you tend to get many different clubs in AAU, sometimes as many as 50 in a given year competing in the state tournament. In the Potomac District AAU in DC and Prince George’s and Montgomery, you hardly ever see such a large number of clubs with teams competing in their district tournament. Our philosophy with the Hurricanes always has been to support all AAU girls basketball clubs in the district because, simply, we all are giving girls an opportunity to learn competitive basketball.
695: What do you think of Maryland AAU in general?
Marvin: I’m not sure how AAU organizations run in other states, but I think we do a good job here in Maryland. Everything is not perfect, but you can always expect that each April and May there is a District tournament in Maryland where these girls can compete in front of their families and friends. As for facilities, you hear complaints, such as gyms that do not have air conditioning, but typically any club that is a member of the AAU can secure gyms to host tournament games. Each February, the District holds its annual meeting to decide where tournament games will be held. A lot also depends on the schools you can get, which do have rental fees. The clubs can make money to support their teams through selling concessions and door admissions. For instance, one of our Hurricanes teams that hosted District games in 2010 was able to use the proceeds at the Nationals for things like a van rental and gas, trading pins for the girls and other team expenses. Surely, the District could spend to get the gyms itself, but then clubs would lose the opportunity to host and help their teams financially. I think that the current system works great. One thing to remember too is that many of the private schools in the area have the best gyms, but they cost way more to rent than public schools or college gyms, maybe five or six times more an hour. So clubs that host games tend to get the gyms that are most affordable, and most times they are at the older schools.
695: A lot of teams are choosing not to participate in their state's AAU tournament and playing strictly in showcase events. Do you think that trend will continue or will teams turn back to AAU?
Marvin: Showcase events are fine, but I think all AAU clubs should participate in their District tournaments if only as a way of supporting local girls basketball. Plus what is better than having girls play AAU ball in the spring in front of their families, friends and coaches. You will always see girls high school coaches like Scott Buckley of Roland Park Country School, Lee Rogers of Arundel, Bookie Rosemond of Archbishop Spalding and Jerome Shelton of St. Francis, to name a few, spend hours in cramped, hot gyms in the spring watching AAU games and up and coming players. Usually, it is the senior division teams, 14-under to 16-under, that may skip the District Tournament for college exposure showcase events. Many times they do so for financial reasons and that is understandable, so that trend probably will continue. But I would urge these great teams to look at the big picture and always participate in the District tournament. If older teams would rather go to USJN or Penn State instead of the AAU Nationals, for instance, I think a case can be made for that. But the district tournaments are the core. Younger girls need to watch the older girls play, and that only happens in AAU. One year in AAU my daughter got to play on the court at historic Dunbar High School in Baltimore where great boys and girls players competed. You only get that at the district level in AAU.
695: What do you think of the overall direction of girls’ basketball in the area?
Marvin: I think girls’ basketball in the area is doing great. You look around and you see all these Baltimore area girls out there playing college ball, whether it is Division I, II or III. Not only are they playing ball, but also they are furthering their educations. In recent years, we’ve sent Hurricanes teams to the Vivian Stringer Weekend Shootout in the summer at Rutgers University in New Jersey, as have other District clubs. Coach Stringer told us that Baltimore was a “hotbed” these days for girls’ basketball. College coaches are flocking here for recruits, and a lot of credit goes to the AAU teams and coaches. In making the basketball better here, I would say to the coaches that while everyone wants to win, focus on the fundamentals. Athleticism makes a difference, but run-and-gun just doesn’t always get it done. You can see the difference when you go and play in other states where the footwork, shooting and passing skills can be superior. Sometimes the best athletes don’t always turn out to be the best players.
695: You recently added Bookie Rosemond as the president of the Hurricanes. What does he bring to the organization?
Marvin: Bookie is the varsity girls’ basketball coach at Archbishop Spalding and has been a Hurricanes coach since 2004. In fact, he coached my oldest daughter for a couple of seasons and has been working with my youngest at some of his camps and clinics. I’ve actually been trying to “reel in” Bookie to serve as our volunteer president for a couple of years. He is busy with his high school program, but he finally said yes. He has had much success at Spalding, but serving as our volunteer president shows his dedication to youth and amateur basketball. He will give us some added direction about coaching and developing players, and we can’t thank him enough for taking on a greater role with the Hurricanes.
695: What are your goals for the Hurricanes in the next couple of years?
Marvin: Like most clubs, you always want to be competitive and you want to win state championships. That never changes in AAU. But the big goal for us is what we always have strived to do, and that is teach fundamentals and get girls ready for high school ball and beyond. We feel confident that high school coaches in the area know they are getting solid players from our program. It all starts with attracting good volunteer coaches, and we have been fortunate in that regard. In fact, most of our coaches are involved with high school programs in one manner or the other. We also want to continue to give families a safe and nurturing experience for their daughters. Most of us have daughters, so that is very important.
695: Thanks for your time.
Marvin: Good luck with the site.
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