Soldiers compete in All-Army basketball trial camp
All-Army player Eric White goes for a basket while Fort Benning player Desmond Williams tries to stop him in a scrimmage game at Smith Fitness Center on Fort Benning, Ga.

FORT BENNING, Ga. -- Soldiers from across the United States and as far away as Korea are at Fort Benning until May 9, competing in the All-Army men's basketball trial camp.

Twenty-two Soldiers came to the camp and following the last cut - 15 remain. There are three more cuts to be made before the Armed Forces Championship May 10-18 in Millington, Tenn.

"These last three cuts are going to be difficult to make," said All-Army coach David Smith. "The level of talent has really stepped up since last year."

Smith planned to cut players by April 17, but said there was so much talent, he wanted to wait until he could fully evaluate the players.

"I was looking to cut on Monday, but I don't think I am going to - this team is so competitive I'll probably keep them until the next week," he said.

Sgt. 1st Class Brian Burns, of Fort Myer, Va., is attending his first All-Army trial camp.

"I have always wanted to try out for the All-Army team, but there was always something else going on," he said. "When I found out I made it, I worked on fine tuning my skills so I would be ready."

The most challenging part of camp is the last practice of the day, Burns said. After playing two games, the team goes back to the gym for one last game.

"It really tests your mental and physical ability. When you are tired, you have to be able to keep going and push yourself. You have to be ready for anything."

The team practices three times during the week and on weekends.

The team played their first scrimmage game Monday, taking a 102-64 victory over the Fort Benning post team at the Smith Fitness Center.

"I think we really gelled as a team - I thought we played defense really well and the offense ran smoothly," Burns said.

The scrimmage game is a coach's tool to evaluate the players, Smith said.

"It's all about chemistry on the court - you can have the five most talented guys ever but that doesn't mean they'll make a good team," Smith said.

Smith said he is looking for players that have diverse skills, who can adapt to any position - whether it's rebounding, playing defense, handling the ball or shooting the ball. And it's not just about individual skills. It's about how the players work with others on a team.

Smith was surprised at his team's skill so early in the camp, he said.

"We controlled the ball and we didn't make a lot of turnovers. I was pleased with that," he said.

The team left Tuesday for Fort Lee, Va., and Fort Bragg, N.C., to compete in games but will return to Fort Benning for a scrimmage game against the Air Force Thursday at Smith Fitness Center. The game starts at 7 p.m.

Page last updated Tue April 28th, 2009 at 14:50