Local basketball team in Europe
By Tracy Cook, Staff Reporter
Basketball courts usually aren’t at the top of the must-see list for tourists in Europe, but for 2002 Conestoga graduate Dewey Burke and his eight-player team, basketball courts were a common attraction during an international basketball expedition showcase this summer.
Burke, who played basketball for University of North Carolina under Hall of Fame coach Roy Williams, has been training high school players from the Main Line since graduating from UNC in 2007. When presented with the opportunity to take a team on the Global Sports Academy’s Friendship Tour, he jumped at the chance to select internationally-worthy players, drawing from six local high schools: Conestoga, Radnor, Haverford, Devon Prep, Malvern and Bishop Shanahan.
“It was kind of weird at first, playing with kids from different schools because usually we would play against them during the regular season,” junior Jared Seltzer said. “But then we got to know each other, and we started playing. We actually developed good chemistry.”
The team left for Belgium on Aug. 9 and played its first three games before traveling to Germany for the final two and then to London for a chance to tour the city. Although the boys finished with a 5-0 record, they had to adjust quickly to a very different style of play.
“[The European teams] played a very open style, very team oriented, not as much one-on-one,” said P.E. teacher John Jones, who assisted Burke with the tour. “They used each other well to create shots, moved the ball very well and left the low post area open a lot.”
The boys also had to adjust to officiating differences on the court.
“If you were in the open court and caught the ball on a fast break and went to dribble, often we were called for traveling in that situation because they don’t allow a step and then a dribble,” Jones said.
Initially, the team struggled on the defensive end, but eventually found its stride.
“Sometimes it was difficult because any one mistake would lead to a lay-up,” Burke said. “But once we started to figure it out, we did a good job of pressuring the ball.”
Not knowing what to expect when they left the states, the boys returned home on Aug. 18 not only undefeated, but with stamps in their passports and a newfound sense of cultural self-awareness.
“I was so proud of the way we played, how we handled ourselves,” Burke said. “It’s as close as many will come to an Olympic experience.”
Tracy Cook can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared on p. 21 of the Oct. 19, 2010 issue of The Spoke.