Teamwork! By Tyson Dyer and Taine Mitchell
PICTURED: Taine Mitchell (left), Tyson Dyer (middle), Sebastian Griffin (right) who is now at Nova Southeastern University after being crowned the number 1 youth club team in the country at the 2017 U16 Melbourne Classics.
We are happy to provide this article, a Q&A on Teamwork by Taine Mitchell and Tyson Dyer.
Taine Mitchell and Tyson Dyer continue emerging into excellent prospects, with goals of playing College Basketball, and when we reflect on their junior careers they have a great story to tell, having arguably played in one of the most successful club youth teams in the nation's history. They were also both key contributors in a historic SA team that won Silver at the U18 National Championships in 2019. It’s valuable reading and learning from them as they give very useful insights and ideas as to how their teams became so successful and how they helped build that success. We'd also suggest College Coaches looking to build on a winning culture and program learn about these athletes and recruit them.
VIDEO: Taine's shot here at the U14 National Championships threw him into the National Basketball spotlight at a young age. Shared across the country by Basketball peak sporting bodies and clubs. The Semi-Final buzzer-beater.
They have constantly played key roles in teams that overachieve their teammates grow and develop. Some of their teammates over the years include Sebastian Griffin (see article from Sebastian: Leadership in high performing youth basketball teams) now at one of the Division 2 NCAA top schools in the United States Nova Southeastern, Keanu Rasmussen who has recently committed to Division 1 NCAA school Cal Baptist after returning home from Basketball Australia's Centre of Excellence, Joel Dyer who is at University of Huntington and already having a big impact on that program, Aimable Rutayisire who is currently at the NBA Global Academy and Benjamin Griscti who is a featured athlete at High-Performance Hoops Network and Division 1 College-bound, and more.
First, let’s look at their common successes on their basketball resume so we can really see how much success their teams have had:
- U14 National Championship Winners
- U16 Melbourne Classics Winners
- U18 Melbourne Classics Winners
- U18 National Championships Silver
- USA AAU tour, 11-2 win loss record, Final 4 of Las Vegas Live and West Coast Elite International tournaments
PICTURED: Competing at various tournaments on the US West Coast their team would go 11-2, making the final 4 of 2x64 team tournaments.
We wanted to chat with both these young men to learn about how they have helped build such successful teams over the years, how they plan to apply this success in their future teams, and what we can all learn from them and their journey so far.
Jarrod Clarke, who was their coach at the 2019 U18 National Championships summed them up really well;
"Both Tyson and Taine epitomizes the "we before me" philosophy embraced by both their representative and state teams I have been involved with. They only care about what is best for the team, and positively contributing to that cause in their role, whether it be big or small." - Coach Jarrod Clarke
Coach Clarke continues;
"Taine is one of those players who can impact a game without touching the basketball. A guy who loves doing the 1%ers that can make the difference and is also the best individual defender I have ever coached, who willingly defends all five positions. He also loves to set up his teammates to get them going, often at the expense of his own numbers.
Tyson is an extremely versatile player who always is happy to contribute wherever it is needed, whether it be as a primary handler or wing playing without the ball, as a scorer or distributor, or as a lockdown defender. Whatever is needed to help the team.
The thing these two guys have in common is their insatiable work ethic. They are always pushing themselves and their teammates to get better at every session. They are also extremely coachable and it has been my pleasure to work with such talented young men. I couldn't recommend both of them highly enough to any coach that wants to recruit winners"
Before we get started it is worth recognising how respectful and gracious they are for their journeys. Thankful to their families, their teammates and coaches. They feel blessed and appreciative by their journey. This is a common trait amongst successful athletes, and people in other fields for that matter. They also have the desire to use challenges and grow, and add build strong positive relationships with their coaches and teammates is what has made their journey successful both in results and experience. Some quotes in this article that are worth considering:
"I feel that every game I play in, I need to learn something from it and what I can improve on" - TD
"The hours put into these sessions I believe are very beneficial to my personal achievement but I also believe that I train with an intensity that makes my teammate better and that leads to team success." - TM
"This buy-in can only happen when the leaders of the group are in full support showing confidence in the coaches. Once this has happened at the head of the group then the rest of the squad will follow and the expectations are that everyone is on the same page." - TM
"One way that I go about building team success is making sure everyone on the team is on the right page and you all have same goal. One reason I believe we were such a successful team is that before every season, we would have a team building session and make some rules for the team and also what our team means, and what we represent." - TD
Tells us about your basketball journey so far?
TD: My basketball Journey started in Grade 2 when I began to play basketball for the school before making the switch to club basketball for Sturt Sabres the next year. I have played basketball for Sturt my whole career going from U12s to now senior basketball. Along the way, I have been picked in the SAPSASA state basketball team in year 7 and also in several state teams in 2017, 2018, 2019 and now 2021. My basketball journey has taken me all around Australia as well as overseas to the US two times.
VIDEO: Highlights of Tyson Dyer at U18 National Championships in 2019 where his team would win a historic Silver medal.
TM: Basketball for me started in the backyard playing against my older brother and sister before starting school and domestic competition games. Having a very competitive family we always wanted to be the best and beat each other. Growing up surrounded by this competitive environment really influenced my love for the game. Joining Sturt Sabres in u/12 allowed me to take the next big step in my basketball career. A coach at Sturt Sabres saw me playing domestic basketball and recruited me into a team, believing that I was a missing piece in a potentially successful and winning team. Learning the fundamental skills required to succeed at the highest level, at the time Sturt never coached for the now but for the future and where they could see you be in many years’ time. Under 12s was also the first time I come so close but so far from success losing in my first Grand final in double OT. From that point on I knew I never wanted to have that losing feeling again and the only way to ensure that was going to happen was if I began to do the work! The following year we took out every single title!
In u/14 I was fortunate to play in the Australian National championships as a bottom age player (Albury 2014) placing 7th and then again as a top age (Perth 2015). Against all odds, our team won the Australian National Championship for the first time in 10 years. This was a massive achievement for our group and opened our eyes to what we could achieve as a team if we continue to grind and work hard. And through juniors achieve as a team we did.
VIDEO: Highlights of Taine Mitchell at U18 National Championships in 2019 where his team would win a historic Silver medal.
How has COVID impacted your journeys?
TD: COVID has had a massive impact on my journey as there has been several times where all basketball has had to stop and that includes being able to get into a gym just to shoot. The pandemic has impacted my processes of trying to go to college has it has allowed athletes this year to gain another year of eligibility. This is a minor setback as it means that schools may not be looking to add to their roster as all their players from this year may return for next. With barely any games being played this year and a shorten season, it has made it difficult to try and get footage that can be sent over to coaches but we have still made do off what is available. This just meant I had to play harder during games and make every minute count. However, in times where there was no access to gyms, I worked on my fitness. I believe that I have come back a quicker, more explosive athlete then before.
TM: COVID has been an uncertain time, seeing the NBA shut down first, I knew our local basketball would follow in the same footsteps. The day of my NBL1 Central debut was postponed and then later canceled, along with all structured workouts and training. This forced me to get creative with my rim at home and to utilize the few weights I had. Going back to the roots of where my basketball journey began, I started training in my backyard against my older brother and working out with what was available. It was refreshing and although he is now an Aussie Rules football player, the games were still competitive as expected! To make the most out of lockdown I knew creating a strict routine was important, spending time studying to achieve good grades in Year 12, as well as working out and continuing to refine my basketball skills was critical. As restrictions were slowly lifted I was allowed back on the court, training and playing. This break was refreshing and allowed me to reset my mind and really focus on what I need to work on to continue to grow as a basketballer. COVID has also bought up the question of if we would be permitted to travel, be recruited and continue to pursue my dream of playing College basketball in America. Things are still unsure and how COVID will impact recruiting is still unknown! But I have done the work, have self-belief, and importantly have the experts in my corner so I believe that I will succeed.
What time and effort have you invested in your personal games over the years?
TD: Lots of time and effort has been invested in my games over the years. I feel that every game I play in, I need to learn something from it and what I can improve on. On game days, I like to have a shooting session in the morning before school as it allows me to get into a comfortable rhythm and I feel more confident going into the game that night.
TM: When you have goals and ambition and a passion for something, it is very easy to put all your time and focus into it working hard on the court and off the court with your mates, always giving yourself the best opportunity to achieve these goals. Playing in multiple teams in a season (u/20 State, NBL1, YL) with varied roles across the teams, meant I was investing many hours at training; early mornings, late nights, and weekends. When I wasn’t training with the team, I was finding time to shoot either before or after training or school or around my part-time job. The hours put into these sessions I believe are very beneficial to my personal achievement but I also believe that I train with an intensity that makes my teammate better and that leads to team success.
VIDEO: Video and comments on Taine and Tyson from Coach Liam Flynn, who ran the recent CLF Hoops Showcase for Adelaide's top prospects.
Do you feel your teams have had a culture of improvement and growth and why?
TD: I feel that over the years our teams have had a massive improvement and growth of skill and development. I think one reason that our teams have been successful is because of how much extra time we were willing to put into getting better. We would have endless amounts of extra training sessions that would allow for us to improve on our games and strive for one another to be more elite players. Over the years it became evident that everyone had pushed each other to become better as practices began to become very fiery and competitive. Everyone wanted to beat each other.
PICTURED: Youngster beginning their basketball journey. Sebastian Griffin, Taine Mitchell, Tyson Dyer, Joel Dyer competing at a young age.
TM: From a young age I’ve been surrounded by a culture of success and excellence, with coaching staff and players that have wanted to continually push themselves to get better as players and people. Being exposed to this culture from the start, it has become the expectation or second nature for me to force myself to always drive myself to never take a session off and not allow any of my teammates to either. I am hard and determined and I always endeavor to bring others along for the ride, demand hard work, and celebrate teamwork more than the individual. I understand that it is easier to continuously work hard when we began to taste success as well, but complacency was never acceptable. Never wanting to be a team of “has beens” or only good in U14s, we understood that if we wanted to have continued local and national success into the future, we needed to work harder than all our competitors, expect more of our teammates and knew that winning as a team was enough of a reward for all our hard work throughout the year. Team success also created individual success.
PICTURED: Tyson and Taine having fun with Jackson Allan, Joel Dyer (University of Huntington), Benjamin Griscti (2021 Division 1 prospect), Blake Bruse-Hall and Bailey Wells.
How do you go about building team success?
TD: One way that I go about building team success is making sure everyone on the team is on the right page and you all have same goal. One reason I believe we were such a successful team is that before every season, we would have a team building session and make some rules for the team and also what our team means, and what we represent. I believe these sessions were critical to our success as it made sure that everyone on the team was invested in what we had built and that we had goals in mind that we wanted to achieve. Halfway through each season, we would make sure that our goals were still achievable and that we were in fact on track to being the team we wanted to be.
VIDEO: In 2017 this video was released highlighting team vision, values and mission along with various highlights showcasing the style of play.
TM: To build team success many different components must be constant. Beginning with the player's “buy-in” to what the coaches’ vision is for the team. This “buy-in” can only happen when the leaders of the group are in full support showing confidence in the coaches. Once this has happened at the head of the group then the rest of the squad will follow and the expectations are that everyone is on the same page. Players and coaches must also have the support of family. Having parents and family that happily interact with each other and are happy for each player’s individual success and creates an environment that is great fun to be around especially as we all spend a significant amount of time together, locally and interstate. Another constant must be understanding and playing your role in the team. What does the team need from you as an individual? If they require you to be a defensive stopper then do your job, if your role is to shot the three, then take the shot. Playing your role is much more valuable to team success, makes you a great teammate and you will be recognised by the opposition, by the team, and by the coaching staff. Pushing each other to be better and do better and competing for every ball is also very healthy in creating a successful team.
PICTURED: U18 state team in 2019 that won a silver medal vs Josh Giddey's Victoria Metro. This team had a range of Division 1 and 2 College prospects in it.
What are the most important components and characteristics to winning teams?
TD: I believe that the most important components and characteristics to winning teams is hard work and having everyone invested into the team. These characteristics have led to us being a successful team over the years and I believe they are so important. Like I said earlier, if you have players that are willing to work hard and invest more time into getting better, then you will be a successful team. Pushing your teammates to a higher level will not only make them better, but it will also make yourself better. Another important that I believe is critical is being able to have fun and take your mind off basketball sometimes. There would be times that after trainings our team would all do some activities away from basketball and just enjoy ourselves and have fun.
How have what you have learned and developed in your junior career be applied to future senior teams you have played in?
TD: Some things that I have learned in my junior career that can be applied in senior teams is that hard work is required just as much maybe even more if you want to play at a high level. You have to be willing to put in extra work to get better in order to play. Senior basketball is a big step up from junior basketball as players are much bigger and stronger. My whole junior career I was taught that if you want to be successful and continue to play at a high level, you have to work harder than anybody else. One thing that coaches made sure I developed to get to a high level is my three-point shooting. In seniors, it is much more important that you have the ability to shoot the ball as it is much harder to score in the paint. Having a 3 point shot also makes you a more unpredictable player and a better scorer.
TM: Expectation, self-belief, and the goal of ongoing success are part of every team I have been a part of. By learning those things early in my career I believe I have the underlying skills, drive, and peer support to move into the senior program and to continue to have an impact and achieve. Challenging me by playing with and against bigger bodies with significant playing experience is the next step in my development.
What are your future plans?
TD: My future plans are to keep working hard on my basketball and get better so I can hopefully earn myself a college scholarship. If that doesn’t end up working out for me, then I will strive to continuing to play basketball here in at a high level and see what happens from there. I have already been accepted into Flinders University here in Adelaide with a bachelor of exercise science degree meaning I have the opportunity to study here if need be.
TM: My future plans and long term goals surrounding basketball is to make my way over seas to experience many different lifestyle and cultural changes as this will better equipped me for challenges I face later in life but also allow me to share these experiences with people back home. My first goal it to reach high enough level of play to play on scholarship in the USA whilst continuing my studies and basketball success.
TD: I’d thank my Mum and Dad for all the hard work they put into making sure I can get to games and training and covering all my expenses to not only train and play, but also when I travel interstate or overseas. I would also like to thank my brother for all the hard work he does. He is always there to rebound for me and help me work out. None of this would be possible without them and I wouldn’t be the player I am today without them. A big thank you to all my coaches over the years for making me be the best player I can be. A big mention to all my teammates over the years, without the relationships we all have with one another, we would not be the players we are today and have the huge success we have had.
PICTURED: Tyson with Mum (Vicki) and Dad (Matt) after playing in one of his 3 National Championship tournaments.
TM: I’d like to take this opportunity to thank a few people who have a major impact on my journey. Special thanks to mum, dad, Riley and D’Arcy, your support and belief in me is unparalleled. I have been coached and mentored by people across many different teams, competitions and club, all of who have taught me something and continue to support me in achieving my goal of playing college basketball on scholarship, in the US. To you all I say thank you for challenging me, teaching me and pushing me to get better. Finally to my teammates past and present. You are the reason I play team sport. You make every minute of training, playing, traveling and socialising with you awesome, as we pushed each other to get better as players and people. You are my mates for life.