Women's Hoops Hosts Summer Camps

June 25, 2009

While Arizona basketball fans await the start of the 2009-10 season, the younger generation took to the McKale Center and Richard Jefferson Gymnasium floors last month for three sessions of the Niya Butts Basketball Academy.

From June 1-4, McKale Center was home to nearly 90 girls eager to show their skills on the basketball court. The Niya Butts Basketball Academy was aimed at girls from second to eighth grades.

In order for the camp run smoothly, the Arizona women’s basketball staff worked together to make sure every detail was looked after. The staff is very hands on in demonstrating how to do drills and providing encouragement. According to assistant coach Chance Lindley it was a team effort.

“The shared responsibilities and our combined efforts are what made sure the camp was a success,” he said.

This first of three camps to be held during the summer was based mainly on skill development and fundamentals. The girls worked on both team and individual exercises with instruction provided by coaches from all over Arizona.

”The competitions during the camp were meant for the campers to have fun while also building on their fundamentals,” said Lindley.

Because a number of the campers were very young, specific attention was paid to activity levels. Assistant coach Brandy Manning added, “We want the kids to have high energy levels and be active.”

The second camp was a position camp for high school-age girls. Each participant was taken on a campus tour in order to get a taste of college life at the University of Arizona. Players were separated by position and then each group was taken through a set of drills to hone skills specific to their position.

A total of 34 girls arrived from Florida, Georgia, Montana, Texas and Colorado to come and play in the new Richard Jefferson Gymnasium with the aim of playing collegiately in the future. One-on-one, three-on-three and five-on-five games were used to identify individual strengths and weaknesses in each camper while contributing to team success.

“We try to put them into the shoes of a student-athlete while they are on campus,” said Manning. “But it’s important to realize that all of them are not at the same skill level, so you cannot teach them same. It’s important to separate the campers according to skill level and age.”

The final camp was a team event where both high school and AAU teams were invited to participate. The end of the camp season provided a unique experience because every team plays multiple games throughout the tournament.

With the camp tipping off on a Friday afternoon, the players’ schedules included academic sessions, compliance sessions and do’s and don’ts of recruiting in addition to practices and speed and agility workouts.

Thirty-four teams participated in Saturday’s action, which featured a situation tournament where teams were thrust into various in-game situations and required to play it out. To help make the girls feel more at home, some current women’s basketball players provided on-court assistance. According to Lindley the goals are simple: to learn and have fun.

“We want campers to learn something from the camp, have fun, improve fundamentals and create an excitement for the sport,” he said.

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