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Thursday, September 28, 2023


Penders pushes basics for kids

He is the epitome of what a pure point guard is supposed to be. As he pushes the ball up the court, his eyes constantly scan the surroundings, looking for that open man.If he spots as much as an inch of daylight, he zips a pass down the line with enough accuracy to hit the recipient’s hands for the easy bucket. If there’s nothing there, he takes it to the rack, utilizing a nice little runner that he obviously spent a lot of time mastering. This kid seems to fit the mold of the pure point guard that Houston basketball head coach Tom Penders needs to run his Phoenix Suns-style offense.

The good news is George Robinson knows his way around Hofheinz Pavilion and the Athletics/Alumni Center, because he’s spent the last four days getting hands-on experience with UH coaches at the 2008 Tom Penders Basketball Camp.

The bad news is Penders and any other college coaches will have to wait for at least five years to get their hands on George Robinson of Claughton Middle School in the Spring Independent School District.

Robinson, who is going into the eighth grade, must develop more before he’s ready to play Division I ball, but he said attending Penders’ camp may give him an edge over other kids his age going into their eighth grade years.

"You can learn a lot from just being here. You come away with stuff that you can use in games because the coaches are very descriptive," Robinson said.

Chris Howell, camp director and the Cougars’ video coordinator, said Penders’ influence on what is taught is undeniable. The basics of dribbling, shooting, screens and ball movement are reinforced. But since he took over as Houston’s coach, Penders has stressed defense first, as well as pushing the ball up the court on the other end.

Howell has no doubt the students from kindergarten to 12th grade will have more hustle in them when they leave the four-day, eight-hour camps than when they arrived.

"We try to teach them how to push the ball really quick, like how we do things here," Howell said. "We try to get them to play at maximum speed the whole time. It will condition them, but when they go back to their high schools or middle schools in the fall, they’ll be ahead of the game because they’re practicing at a pace that’s quicker than usual."

High school, middle school and Amateur Athletic Union coaches from Houston join UH coaches on the camp coaching staff to ensure each of the approximately 85 students enrolled in the camp session receive the attention he signed up for.

Crosby High School basketball coach Edwin Egans, said students who come to the camp benefit more than they would if they only played for AAU teams all summer.

"Playing AAU basketball is just that. It’s just playing ball. This way, we slow the game down for the kids and focus on fundamentals. I think that’s a lost art in the game," he said.

"Just because kids play more basketball doesn’t mean they are playing the correct way. These are the essentials. Lack of fundamentals is what hurts a lot of players."

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