Friday, 25 January 2019 17:13

The Art of More

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ANAHEIM, CA - As off season activity buzzes throughout the league, beat reporters covering the Archers off season practices note a new saying on the locker room wall.  It reads, “Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.”  This quote is attributed to Sun Tzu's "The Art of War" but it is unclear if this was the idea of Coach Bennett, GM Stelle, or the players themselves.   When asked about that, Stelle chuckled, "I don’t mind it one bit.  The quote speaks about mindset and visualization.  We have quite a few new faces in the locker room who may not fully grasp what they are a part of.  .  The success of a season flows from that into all aspects of the season and wins, playoffs, and cups are the inevitable extension of that mindset."  This does not seem to be lost on Archer veterans who have already reported in for shoot arounds and drills.  All-star guard James Wall seemed more reserved than seasons prior as it almost seems that the garrulous youth was burnt away by the heat of playoffs these past few seasons.  The training facility definitely seems more serious.



So how does a team that won 61 games find it in themselves to do more?  Drafting is a start and the Archers put their new Director of International Scouting Operations, Arron Pratt, to work immediately.  The long hours in the office seem to have paid off as the Archers returned from the selection festivities with a fistful of prospects that are looking to make an impact on the squad this year:



Chadwick Dandridge - While the name might evoke images of east coast tea set, yachts, and monocles, the origins of the Dandridge family are much more humble.  Forty miles outside of Alexandria, Louisiana there is a small town with a population of under four thousand called Jena.  It is here that Chadwick (commonly called "Chad") was born.  Time in a small town didn't afford for much distraction and, as a young man, Chadwick was drawn to the television.  In particular, he loved watching the exploits of his hero, Everett Dolinish on television.  "I remember the time when he dropped 51 on the storm back in '18," said Dandridge of his idol, "he was unstoppable."  Given time, he'd regale you with stories even going back to the pre-merger American basketball league days.  It's that inspiration that helped him when he hit his growth spurt too.  Tall enough that basketball seemed a natural transition but not content to be a traditional back to the basket pivot, Dandridge worked diligently on his jump shot and earned a scholarship to Louisiana Technical.  Dandridge played for two seasons until he applied for a transfer to Colorado State which was accepted.  "I had never really been outside Louisiana but then Mike [McPeak, lead scout for Colorado State] called me one day out of the clear blue sky and said he'd seen a tape of me from my freshman year.  Said he liked how I played and wondered if I'd come pay them a visit in Colorado.  So I did."  Dandridge met with team captain Logan Kellam and that was, as they say, "all she wrote."  The New Mexico Mr. Basketball [Kellam], Dandridge, and is roommate,  John McKee [Nebraska Mr Basketball], became fast friends.  In fact, it was their idea that he should not shorten his name.  "There are million Chad's they'd say," Dandridge replied looking back on his years as a Ram, "They were right.  So I go by my given name now."  Dandridge started 37 of 38 games on a Colorado State squad that went 24-14 overall his senior year.  The Rams finally fell to Mericer in the OCIT Semifinal round.  Of the 6'8" center (who will likely see time at power forward at the professional level), Archers assistant coach Wilson noted, "He is a fine combination of finesse - with that soft touch on his jumper - and power.  His ability to put it on the floor and not make mistakes is underappreciated too.  He's a very cerebral player."  Dandridge averaged 8.1 ppg, 10.0 rpg, adn 1.5 bpg on 44.8% shooting that senior year.



Darwin Sabin - A member of the Aggies of UC Davis, Sabin had a fine freshman and sophomore year.  A late bloomer, Sabin was noticed by assistant Benedict Groff who also was an assistant coach for the Aggies track and field team.  Ironically, Sabin was originally recruited for track and field.  "I remember looking at the roster when we were having summer trials and seeing that his time was good but not the fastest we had," said Groff of his first meeting with Sabin, "but then I met him in person and the absolute last thing I expected was for him to be 6'9" tall!"  Needless to say, Groff was quick to sway him to give some time to basketball where he performed well.  A gifted athlete, Sabin was as raw as they come but managed to win freshman of the year in the Big West Conference.  From there, Basketball became his first love.  Working hard on post moves and boxing out on rebounds, Sabin avoided the sophomore slump and put in another great performance.  "I think I tried to do too much," said Sabin of his sophomore year, "I was trying to expand my game and faced up a lot.  I should have just done what coach Groff taught me and used my athleticism around the rim.  I wanted to be like those big time players though."  It seemed like too much too fast but then he was noticed by another scout who told him that he could play in the OBWL on athleticism alone.  The chance to make it at the professional ranks seemed too much but he retained an agent anyway.  On draft day, rumors had it that the Archers liked Sabin's athleticism so much, they were going to select him in the first round; however, it did not work out that way.  "We were happy that we could bring him here," said GM Stelle, "it didn't hurt that he was listed at 6'9" tall in college but came into camps here at 6'11" tall.  Either the Aggies might want to get some new measuring instruments or we need to send our nutritionist to Nevada to find out what Darwin was eating!"  Sabin comes in quite possibly the rawest prospect the Archers organization has seen but also one of the most athletically gifted.  "Things like positioning and other fundamentals can be taught," said assistant Byron Davis, "but you can't teach tall like he is and you'll have a hard time finding a tall guy better on the ladder drill than this guy.  How well he can pick up those fundamentals and incorporate them into his game will set his trajectory."  Sabin averaged 12.4 ppg and 6.6 rpg with 49.8% shooting in 63 starts at UC Davis.



Albert Maddox - Nick named "Mad Dog" by his teammates on the Temple Owls, Maddox is a 6'8" senior out of Wilmington, Delaware.  He was off to a promising start after 29 games played as a freshman; however, one and a half games into a promising sophomore season, he ruptured his achilles tendon and sat out the entire year.  After a grueling rehabilitation, he returned to form averaging nearly a double double but his senior year was smudged a bit by a suspension at the start of the basketball season for fighting.  From the incident report, it appeared that, after an exchange of words with another student at the start of the term, Maddox entered into an altercation that turned physical.  Maddox was largely unhurt but he broke the other kid's jaw.  Intervention from Coach Kline saw him back in action in January.  "Perhaps he took the whole 'mad dog' nickname too seriously," said assistant coach Flournoy, "up to that point, he had very little outlet for some serious anger he had about his injury."  The A.D. at Temple referred him to a psychologist and Maddox finished his senior year.  "This kid is tough as nails," said Archers head coach Bennet of Maddox, "that mean streak is something that we could use here I think if he can channel it and focus it into legal, basketball actions.  It should not surprise you that some of the greats have precisely this same mean streak... Bailey, Grant, McCarthy, Bond... they all had it in them but they had focus."  Anaheim has distractions galore which some might see as case against selecting an at risk youngster like Maddox and point to shenanigans that resulted in the meteoric plummet of Dudley Shill's career.  "I know I'm a risk," said Maddox, "but I intend to justify the faith this organization has put in me.  I'll make good."  Maddox averaged 9.3 ppg and 9.2 reb per game in his senior year at Temple.



Mark Regalado - It's never a surprise when the national champion has players selected and the Eagles of Boston College were no exception.  They saw Herschel Pettway go to Chicago, Gerald Hay to Seattle, John Nixon to Vancouver, and Jamie Green to Los Angeles.  Joining his teammate in figuring out where exactly Orange County stops and What the difference between San Bernardino and Riverside is, is his Regalado.  The 8th point guard on a team that already had Pettway, Hopson, and Nixon, Regalado has made a career of preparation and being a team player.  When the Eagles were flush at point guard, coach Rodriguez told the 6' Regalado to prepare for time at the 2 if he wanted to see any time at all.  Not content to simply ride the pine, Regalado put in the work every day.  It never translated into the college limelight but Regalado came to a D-League open tryout for Cape Cod, the Buzzards' affiliate.  It was that tryout that got him noticed by league scouts.  As one scout noted, "[Regalado] is utterly fearless in the lane challenging bigger players."  Another wrote of Regalado, "Untraditional point guard with definite three point range."  Well, the Archers have been known to trade in unconventional players so when word of a slashing, six foot tall point guard who could jump out of the gym reached the West Coast, the Archers flew to see him work out.  Not much later, Regalado was a professional basketball player.  "I am so blessed to have this opportunity," said Regalado, "I want to just show that I can do. You know... just keep gridin' and God will sort out the rest.  He gave me this ability after all, right?"  It's expected that Regalado will see time under the tutelage of assistant coach Norman Davie this off season.  Davie is given credit by James Wall for facilitating his transition to the professional level and for finding a way to make his nontraditional skill set work in a professional system.  "Mark reminds me of a guy you might know... Greg Fore," said Davie of what he saw in Regalado, "people said 'no jump shot' about him too.  People didn't know if a slasher like that could be a player of impact.  We will see.  All it takes is the right preparation to get a chance at the right time and then things just develop a momentum of their own.  We will see if Mark has this inertia in him or not."  In his limited time at Boston College, Regalado played 7.0 minutes per game in 107 games but shot a sterling 47.5% from the floor and 41.6% from three on his career.




Clearly, the Archers have been investing in development of a youthful interior core.  With first round selections Daniel Fendley, Erik Hall, and Marc Desoutsseaux just out of their rookie seasons and aging interior players like Jamie Adkins and Logan Goloboy up for contract in uncertain status, the unspoken hope from the Archers front office is that one or more of these players will be ready for substantial contribution within a 2-3 year span.  With only Ronald Long to anchor the middle and his contract up next season, a period of transition looks to be coming for the Archers but the staff hopes to keep the growing pains to a minimum.


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