Wolves Team Up With Midwest 3 on 3 Leagues
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Timberwolves Vice President of Fan Experience Jeff Munneke understands the type of environment Midwest 3 on 3 can provide. He’s seen it firsthand.
Munneke’s kids have played in the league, and from watching them compete he gained an appreciation for how the league is set up and what it allows kids to learn along the way. It’s a structured setting without coaches, which allows kids to make adjustments and adapt on the fly while also playing basketball in more of a three-man game setting.
[CLICK HERE to learn more about Midwest 3 on 3 at their official website]
“It’s really intimate enough where it gets into the drills and skills of basketball,” Munneke said. “Pass and cut, help out on defense. Everybody gets to touch it, everybody gets to shoot it.”
The Timberwolves and Midwest 3 on 3 have developed a partnership this year in order to expand the ways in which they can help build the youth basketball community in the Midwest. Already involved in training, clinics and camps, the Wolves wanted to partner with Midwest 3 on 3 to add a new dynamic in their relationship with local youth.
Working with Munneke and Timberwolves Basketball Academy Coordinator Pat Freeman, they hope to have developed a relationship that will help further expand the 3 on 3 game as well as help Minnesota’s camps and clinics grow in the future.
“They have a nice piece that is a nice stronghold in the Minnesota community of 3 on 3 leagues,” Munneke said. “We thought, boy, this makes sense.”
Midwest 3 on 3 began 15 years ago through Mike Hilley, then a head coach at Champlin Park who wanted to find a way to get kids in the gym and develop their skills on a smaller scale setting from the traditional 5-on-5 game. It’s grown to almost 20 league stretching through the Metro area and into Wisconsin and outstate schools like Faribault and Delano.
Each participating city has its own league with teams ranging from around 50 to as many as 118 in Mounds View. Each team has 4-5 players on a team, and leagues are available for boys and girls grades 3rd through 12th. Teams play two, 20-minute games per session.
Leagues are available in the spring, summer and fall. Registration for spring leagues is going on now, with games generally beginning in March. Most leagues have an entry fee of $55 per player, and proceeds from those entry fees helped raise more the $100,000 for area traveling basketball associations in the leagues’ different locations, Hilley said.
Hilley said Midwest 3 on 3 takes care of e-mail communication, phone calls, ordering T-shirts, working with other groups and officiating. All the participants need to do is show up.
He said one of the keys to the league is that the kids have the chance to play different roles in the 3 on 3 game.
“In the 3 on 3 game the kids and players like it because the kids get that many more touches, less players on the floor, less space for them,” Hilley said. “Try to work on things and don’t ignore their weaknesses that they can improve on. It might be pick-and-rolls or give and goes and some of those spacing things that are sometimes lost in the 5-on-5 game.”
Munneke said there’s a lot of ways players can improve while playing in the league.
“This has structure as far as the leagues are concerned, but 3 on 3 is more free flow to show the kids how to play,” Munneke said. “Everyone gets to touch it. There’s typically not one dominant player that takes it to the basket every time.”