We are getting closer to the tip-off of the 31st McDonald's All-American Game (Wed., 9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN) in Milwaukee. Players will be arriving Saturday and the first team practices will be on Easter Sunday.
This preview will give insights into the team organization and the anticipated player matchups to look for in the game. The game coaches have the daunting challenge of trying to balance the playing time for their 12-man rosters while keeping the game competitive. The 2007 game in Louisville, Ky., was one of the best ever with the West defeating the East team 114-112 in a very exciting contest.
The keys to every all-star game are the player matchups, and structuring the composition of the team units to allow the players to perform at their best position and to be matched against a comparable opponent. A major difficulty is getting close to equal playing time for all of the players. This game will be college length of 40 minutes, divided into two 20-minute halves. This means there are 200 total playing minutes; and doing the math, this would allow 16:40 of playing time for the 12 players on each team. McDonald's rules mandate that every player must play at least 12 minutes unless injured.
The teams will be organized into two six-member units (Units A & B) and coaches will substitute by unit and rotate the six players on each unit. Sound difficult? It certainly is. Ideally, all players will get their minutes and playing opportunities. The teams will have daily two-hour practices for three days (Sunday, Monday and Tuesday) and a one-hour scrimmage on Tuesday afternoon. Obviously, this only permits time for team composition and for coaches to implement their basic offensive and defensive sets and drills.
Here are the team units and player matchups we would love to see in this McDonald's All-American Game.
The final results of this game could be determined by the matchups and play of the B Units. In analyzing these units, both teams appear to be very equal at every position.
Those are the recommended alignments and matchups we hope to see in this game. We tip our hat to the game coaches, Woodie Jackson (East) and West co-coaches Tom Diener and Jim Gosz, both Milwaukee residents. They have the difficult challenge of motivating these All-Americans to play in a team concept, share the ball, compete on both ends of the court, especially on the defensive end and eliminate those infamous all-star game wide-open, breakaway slam dunks. Hopefully, these highly qualified, veteran coaches will plan their substitutions and player rotations so all players get the playing time they deserve and come away from this game with a most memorable experience from their participation in this classic game they have all had hoop dreams of playing in.
It should be fun!
Bob Gibbons is the editor and publisher of the All Star Sports Report and is widely regarded as the recruiting guru of college basketball. Drop Bob a line in his mailbag.