The Russians are comming! The Russians are coming!
Okay - so the phrase is well-worn, especially since Utah has already hosted all sorts of Soviets of late, ranging from gymnasts to inspectors.But another group from the Soviet Union is slated for a first-ever visit to Salt Lake City later this spring - the Russian Junior National Basketball Team.
Ron Carling, Alta High basketball coach and president of the Utah Basketball Coaches Assocation, says plans are under way for a May meeting between the touring Soviet team and an all-star squad comprised of Utah prepsters. The coaches association and the Salt Lake County Recreation Department are the initial co-sponsors of the game, which will allow local hoop talent to taste the near-Olympic flavor of international competition.
The projected 10-city U.S. tour is nothing new for the Russian team, with the Soviet youth squad having played previous years in major-market or hoop- haven cities from coast to coast, such as New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and Charlotte, North Carolina. The crowds for the previous games have generally started at 10,000-plus figures, Carling added.
Salt Lake City is set to be included this season, and Carling in part attributes the Soviet's stopover to the successes of the U.S.-USSR gymnastic exhibition in Cedar City. Also a major drawing card is the current overabundcance of high school basketball talent in Utah, including the likes of Shawn Bradley, Randy Reid, Kenneth Roberts, Ryan Cuff - and the list goes on and on.
ADD HOOP EVENTS: As if something of that magnitude isn't major enough, Carling and the coaches assocition are involved in coordinating a couple of other notable projects before the May "Summit Meeting."
First, the annual 1A-2A, 3A-4A all-star games have been scheduled for March 17. That's a week after the the third and final weekend of state basketball tournament action.
The other event being proposed to coaches statewide is an April seminar for 30 to 50 of the top prep talent in Utah who are college basketball prospects.
Rather than an Xs-and-Os workshop on refining basketball skills, the seminar would feature a series of multiple topics for the player making the transition from high school to basketball, with emphasis being placed on academic requirements and recruiting procedures.
The initial draft of the seminar is a two-day event in Salt Lake City, but Carling admits that costs and other logistics may require it to be whittled down to a single-day seminar.
Here's the first blueprint the coaches association is working from: The opening day starts with a pair of late-afternoon sessions - first, drugs, alcohol and steriods, then injury management and prevention. A dinner with a guest speaker would be followed by a no-host evening reception with local college coaches.
The second-day sessions include topics such as ACT preparation, core curriculum, academic requirements and consequents; study skills and time management; recruiting processes, rules, guideline and expectatons; and weight training and conditioning.
Sandwiched betwen the four second-day lectures would be a luncheon with another guest speaker, a special concluding dinner and guest speaker, and then perhaps a Jazz game to top it all off.
Beneficial for any player making the move from high school to college, the seminar is especially targeted for the younger players who are just beginning to be recruited or who will start the process in the next season or two.
Young, unsuspecting players can - out of ignorance - become entrapped in recruiting improprieties, academic requirements or substance abuse, with the seminar slated to help projected college prospects become more aware of the rules and regiments associated with stepping up to the college level, Carling said.