By Tom GrantAdams represents the American dream in athletics. She was a great high school player and signed with Missouri. But that plan was derailed because she had to attend a junior college. She had to fight her way back. She used junior college to get her academic and basketball career on track, then signed at A&M after being named junior college player of the year in 2009. But she had a lot more work to do.
Here's what she told ESPN: "After I had to go to junior college, I knew it was a chance for me to work harder and get better," Adams said. "I thought, 'Maybe another team will pick me up that I really like.' And A&M gave me that chance."
Even that wasn't enough. Adams, a 6-1 post, was overweight. She needed to lose 40 pounds to get in shape to become competitive in Division I. And she did.
The Texas A&M team represents what is rarely seen in men's basketball, a team of highly skilled and highly experienced players committed to a great team performance. A&M was led seniors Adams and Sydney Colson along with junior Tyra White. They were experience heavy, and had worked together for years.
In men's basketball, the one-and-done has changed the character of the game. John Feinstein writes that it's one of the things leading men's basketball downhill:
"Many college coaches call this the 'AAUization' of the game. Stars are coddled from the very beginning; no one tells them they have to play defense, no one teaches them fundamentals and no one gets on them if they don’t play hard. Why? Because if a star gets yelled at by one coach, he goes and finds a new coach. That’s why it is now common for players to go to three or four high schools and play on a different AAU team every summer. Then they come to college knowing they hold all the cards with their coach: They only have to deal with him for one year, so why put up with him if he makes unreasonable demands such as 'Would you please try on defense?'"
NCAA men's basketball could learn a bit from Adams and A&M. They won their title with dedication, perseverance and hard work. They had to make the grades and come together as a team. And they did it without a blot on their recruiting record. And, in my opinion, they played a lot better game than the men -- and not just on the floor.