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[Monitor] Vipers blog updates

Discussion in 'Rio Grande Valley Vipers' started by HoopScribe, Jul 5, 2014.

  1. HoopScribe

    HoopScribe Member

    Jul 19, 2013
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    Updates on Vipers' coach Nevada Smith's role with the Rockets this summer and associate head coach Paul Mokeski leading the Panamanian national team.

    7.3.14 Smith putting in busy offseason with Rockets

    Vipers head coach Nevada Smith is an assistant coach for the Rockets’ summer league teams in Orlando and Las Vegas the next two weeks.
    Smith will learn under J.B. Bickerstaff, a Rockets’ assistant coach and head coach of the Rockets’ summer league team in Orlando that starts play Saturday, and Chris Finch, a former Vipers coach and current Rockets assistant who will head Houston’s Vegas summer league team.

    “We’re just paying attention to the talent,” Smith said. “Looking at guys who could be available for us (Vipers), guys we could invite to camp and stuff like that. Just being around and listening and learning has been big for me.
    “Last year was so fast. The time I spent in Houston before getting to RGV was very minimal, so to be able to have a better understanding of how they want to teach and mesh things together is big.”

    Since the Vipers’ season ended in the D-League semifinals in April, Smith has spent much of his time in Houston. He aided the Rockets’ pre-draft work. During last week’s NBA Draft, Houston selected Swiss center Clint Capela and Arizona guard Nick Johnson and traded for Italian wing Alessandro Gentile.

    “It was eye-opening,” Smith said of the draft preparation. “You always envision what it could be like from an outsider’s point of view but you never have a real idea. It’s crazy. The amount of time, the amount of background, the amount of film … for me, it was something completely different than I imagined. I enjoyed every second of it.”

    Smith was involved in the pre-draft workouts of players and watched film of draft-eligible players. Capela is not expected to be a part of either of the Rockets’ summer league teams, as his overseas situation needs to be addressed, but Johnson will be, as well as Isaiah Canaan and Robert Covington, who saw significant time with the Vipers last season.

    Troy Daniels, who burst his way onto the national scene with a clutch 3-pointer for the Rockets in Game 3 of their first-round series against Portland, is a restricted free agent and will not participate. He earned a contract with the Rockets late last season because of his strong play as a sharpshooter for the Vipers.

    In a phone interview late Thursday afternoon, Smith talked in regard of other topics:

    On if he had a particularly vested interest in the draft since those players are likely to spend a lot of time in RGV: “I’m always thinking of the guys we pick and how they can fit in with Houston and RGV. You watch even more film after the draft of these guys and just see specific areas of work where you can help. This year I’m able to be ready and know more of these guys and I’m able to cram about the guys we draft.”

    Smith praised Johnson, the likeliest of the draft picks to see time in RGV since the other two may be overseas next year. Rockets assistant coach, and former Vipers assistant, Matt Brase worked with Johnson as a youth during camps in Arizona and has had a longtime relationship with the guard.

    “Nick’s a great kid," Smith said. "We knew a lot about him. He works hard, he’s a great defender and a great athlete. I think he’ll definitely benefit by taking 500 3s in RGV (laughs). He has a great chance to have a fit in Houston, and if we got him at all he’d be a great guy and a fit for what we do.”

    On how his system could grow after an offseason with the Rockets: "The offense will be similar. The speed and spacing will be similar, but the shot selection could change depending on personnel. Defense is a focus. I didn't think we were good from a defensive side because we emphasized offense so much. We got hurt defensively when we lost length and size because of trades or injuries, and defense can be hard in the D-League. You have to be a unit, you have to have five guys in sync, and that can be hard with so many guys coming and going."

    On Year 2 with the Vipers: "I cant wait. I've just learned so much through Year 1. Every day is a learning process. I have a better idea of the D-League itself and what works and what to expect. You learn different ways to get the most out of guys, since I had never been in that position before … playing back-to-backs on commercial flights, getting to games an hour before. Until you’re in those situations, you have no idea. We had a good year, we did some really good things, and it was great from an experience standpoint and now we know how to attack things this year.”

    7.2.14: Vipers' Mokeski to lead Panamanian national team

    RGV associate head coach Paul Mokeski, a former 12-year veteran of the NBA as a player and longtime coach at the collegiate, professional and international levels, will coach the Panamanian national team.

    Mokeski, who has coached international basketball for five seasons with Great Britain, Jamaica and now Panama, will lead Panama Aug. 1-7 in a Centrobasket tournament in Mexico. The top four teams qualify for the Tournament of Americas next summer, a pre-qualifier for the Olympics.

    Rolando Blackman, an icon of Panamanian basketball who developed a strong friendship with Mokeski when they were both with the Dallas Mavericks as coaches and front office administrators, reached out to Mokeski last month. For the last 10 years, Blackman has worked to develop Panama basketball and grow the sport while waiting for funding and more control of operations.

    “We’re going to bring a whole new professional attitude there,” Mokeski said. “I’ve been around international basketball at the highest level and I want to use that experience to help them grow. I want to push the ball, get a quality early shot and be able to execute sets in the halfcourt. I want to bring mixture to defense.”

    Mokeski will go to Panama next week to train with the team, then they will head to Vegas for scrimmages against the Australian team and the Lakers’ summer league team.

    After that is a trip to Long Beach for 10 days of training before heading to Mexico for the tournament.

    Mokeski said he looks forward to coaching internationally again. It differs from the D-League, where the constant roster turnover means simpler systems, and the NBA, where the style of play is more one-on-one based.

    “It’s more free-flowing, more open. More sharing the ball,” Mokeski said of international play. “You look at what ball movement does to a good team and it’s very difficult to defend. The NBA’s gotten away from that.”

    Mokeski said he is uncertain if he will return next season to the Vipers, where he has spent one year as associate head coach and two as an assistant. He would prefer to return to the NBA.

    For now, it’s a waiting game.

    “We’ll see what happens,” he said. “As far as the Vipers are concerned, I love the organization and I’d love to come back. The Development League is a good league to coach in and it’s very challenging.
    “We’ll just see where it brings us.”

    In a phone interview early Wednesday afternoon, Mokeski talked in regard of other topics:

    On the D-League: “When I started in the D-League five, six years ago, it was the dream of becoming a true minor league system, much like baseball, and it’s happening right before our eyes. It’s exciting. It’s rewarding.”

    On if he could see alteration in style of play in the NBA because of the Spurs' success: “It’s been the history of the league to copycat. Coaches preach ball and player movement all the time, but now we’ve seen it first-hand how it’s effective and how it can win championships. The Spurs’ ball movement won that series. So you’re going to have more coaches buying in more. Basketball has always run pick-and-rolls, give-and-gos, and the flex offense comes in, and people use that. The draw-and-kick comes in and people use that. Everyone borrows something from the history of the game. Something successful, people want to mimic it. The way the Spurs play has been around since basketball started, but sometimes it’s difficult to get players to realize and believe in it.”
  2. Voice of Aus

    Voice of Aus Contributing Member

    Jun 28, 2013
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    i want him to grow and eventually get into the nba
  3. travfrancis

    travfrancis Member

    Aug 10, 2001
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    I have a client in McAllen - I spent some time down there at their office not long after the Vipers won the D-League championship. I asked a few of the employees there what they thought about the team winning and not one of them knew who the Vipers were or that the area had a professional basketball team. Amazing.
  4. HoopScribe

    HoopScribe Member

    Jul 19, 2013
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    This is true. Outside of high school sports, the Valley supports little else, whether it's the local NCAA DI university or the Vipers.

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