Feldstein had a similar moment at his first Michael Jordan camp.
“I’m a little jaded now, but that first time, Bill Walton was one of my coaches,” he said. “We’re in the middle of a game, and he’s quoting John Wooden to me in the huddle, about the pyramid of success. I couldn’t believe it. A legendary player is quoting a legendary coach to me, Dan Feldstein. I got a real kick out of that.”
Larranaga’s camp, like the others, opens with tryouts. The campers get swag bags and full uniforms. They are then drafted by the coaches in a closed room, NBA-style, with each coach having a minute to make his selection. Over the next 48 hours, the campers will participate in drills, scrimmages, film sessions, team meals, and the weekend culminates at noon Sunday with the championship game. The winners cut down the nets as the NCAA Tournament anthem, One Shining Moment, plays over the arena loudspeakers.
Camp veterans are easy to spot. For one thing, they’re usually in better shape. They train for weeks before camps. The Duke camp sends campers a nine-page workout regimen to get them prepared. Some veterans also tend to sandbag during tryouts so that several good players can wind up on the same team rather than all of them being selected in the first round by opposing teams.
Needless to say, the games can get heated (read: dirty).
“There’s a lot of testosterone out there,” Ferdman said. “And there’s some Napoleon complex, too. The games can get pretty physical. But it’s all in good fun.”
The camps also benefit the coaches who host them. Larranaga said Mas, whom he met at the Jordan camp, was instrumental in his getting an interview for the UM job. The camp also gives his program exposure with influential businesspeople nationwide, many of whom have made donations and become Hurricane fans.
“It’s really clear when you watch these guys go at it why they are successful in life,” Larranaga said. “I love watching them as much as they love playing.”