I caught up with Coach Johnnie Richardson, from the 14U Team Phoenix Elite this afternoon, down in Orlando, Florida, where the Phoenix fell to the Louisiana Roundballers, in the Finals of the AAU National Championships….
The Interview with Coach Richardson, as we talk about his team and the tournament…..
Andy Durham: Did you have a feeling going into the tournament that your guys might have a chance to win it all?
Johnny Richardson:We played good defense and we had been playing good defense on the way in….This team played with a lot of heart and I’ve taken teams to 3-4 Regionals and this is my first Nationals and the is the best boys team that I have had while with the Phoenix…..The boys Phoenix program is an off-shoot from the girls Phoenix basketball, run by Delaney Rudd and Gregg Williams is the boys Phoenix basketball director…..
AD:Who was your leader?
JR:KJ Langley and Will Gardner….They led by example…..Gardner is 6’7 1/2….Langley is a guard and he’s like a coach on the floor…
AD:Who were your top scorers?
JR:Any game we could have 8-9 different top scorers….Every game somebody else stepped up…..It might be Langley, Gardner, Chandler Peraldo, Darius Moore, Demetrius Troy, Skylar McGee, David Ogelsby, Jack Spade, Brock Braddy, Trey McLean, Kevin Henry, Jared Henderson or Terrell Pickett…….
AD: Playing on ESPN, what was that like with all the emotion of a Championship Game built in?
JR:With the ESPN crew there, we were nervous to start, but it was a great experience and once we got going, it was like any other game…..The ESPN people were very professional….
AD:Talk about the overall atmosphere of playing in Orlando?
JR:Orlando, with Disney World, was good for the parents and the families, but as a team, we had to stay focused….You are on a mission, you have to stay focused on what you came to do, for the one week that we were in town….
AD:What has the team learned this week?
1)Play as hard as you can.
2)Defense wins Championships.
3)Play as a team. It is about the team, it is not about YOU!
AD:Was this a well-advanced/well-skilled team for 14U’s?
JR:Very skilled, at all positions. Guard, forward and center….The kids could play all positions/multiple positions….
AD:Will you stick with this team and bring them back to Orlando?
JR:I will stay together with the Phoenix and try to go/move up to the DI tournament, here in Orlando next year….
AD:Who was/is your coaching mentor?
JR:Freddy Johnson at the Greensboro Day School, along with the assistant coaches Jeff Smith and Steve Shelton….I have been there as an assistant for 6 years now and before that, I was the girls Varsity basketball coach at High Point Christian and before that I got started out at Westchester Academy(now Westchester Country Day), as the B team coach for the Middle School…..
AD:What is your coaching philosophy?
JR: Don’t coach effort expect it…..Play with attitude, you don’t have an attitude….PLAY DEFENSE!
Coach Richardson went on to say that there are currently no Theo Pinsons on this team, at this current age level, looking at Pinson from his 14U days, but many of these players will one day play at the college level and they will go on to earn college scholarships…..