When Team Battle entered the AAU world at the MLK Classic two years they got a rude awakening. They went 0-4, but instead of tucking it in the Central Jersey based squad went back to the drawing board and have become one of the most successful youth teams in the country. Basketball Spotlight hollered at Coach Gary Battle about some insight on his program and the AAU scene in general.
This is the Coaches Corner!
BS: When and why did you start Team Battle?
GB: I started it as a company to train and develop players because I felt players need to develop their ball handling skills. When I was coming up I could shoot the rock but I didn’t have the ball handling I think I needed. Then we moved to travel team ball before finally moving into AAU.
BS: You guys had a lot of early success, how did this happen so quickly?
GB: Well like I said we take the time to develop our players and we knew we have some good kids that needed development and game experience. Now we are able to perform on that level and win some tough games and tournaments.
BS: How do you keep your guys motivated to win after having this success?
GB: It’s easy because we haven’t accomplished our goal of winning a National Championship. See most people believe that you can’t win a National Championship without grade exceptions and we are out to prove them wrong, so until we win one our guys will be hungry when they step on the floor.
BS: You guys have been very dominant in Basketball Spotlight events, what keeps you coming back?
GB: Well you guys have great tournaments with some of the top regional teams and it’s growing. We now have Potomac Valley and Massachusetts area squads coming to New Jersey for some good bump and that’s what it’s about.
BS: You coach your son Tyus and he’s very talented, how do you separate being a coach and a father?
GB: Well sometimes it’s hard and also easy, when he’s on the floor I’m on him harder than any of the other players. He has a high talent level and I want to push him so even if he wasn’t my son I would try to get the best out of him. Then when the games are over we try to leave that stuff on the floor. Sometimes we might just go to the movies and just spend some father son time.
BS: What do you feel about the climate of AAU basketball?
GB: I think it has positives and negatives. I like the competition aspect of it and it helps the players get better but I think the current grade exception rule takes away from the sport. I think you should be allowed to be a grade exception if you skills are not that great and you need development but if you are dominating at the level it’s a waste of time for the player and it’s not helping him out in the long run. We at Team Battle don’t take grade exceptions in our program.
BS: You are entering the MDC as the defending champs, how do you like your chances?
GB: I think we have a chance to win it. We have a good combination of size and skill while also being battled tested from some of the top tournaments in the country.
BS: What do you feel about your chances at the Nationals this year?
GB: I think we will do better this year because last year was a learning experience for us. Now we can handle the atmosphere and even the small things like what hotels to stay in and where to have dinner. LoL