A hoops traveler stops to teach - The Explorer: Sports

A hoops traveler stops to teach

Belgian shares understanding, passion with Green Fields campers

Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Tuesday, June 23, 2009 11:00 pm | Updated: 1:21 pm, Mon Apr 18, 2011.

Green Fields Country Day School head boys' basketball coach Joseph Umstead was a little winded after his summer basketball camp ended on Saturday.

"After this week, I can't run with these guys down the court anymore," said Umstead with a laugh.

The reason: the camp's international guest coach, Jean-Pierre Fransquet.

"The drills we were doing, they were college and pro level drills," said Umstead. "It's the first exposure they've had to how the game can truly be played."

Gaining exposure to new basketball ideas is something Fransquet has been doing for more than 30 years.

The former Belgian Olympic coach, who lives in Liege, the third-largest city in the country, has traveled the world, first as an athlete and now as a coach.

Learning, gained from experience, has assisted Fransquet in providing guidance to young basketball talent.

He has coached more than 300 basketball camps all over the world, and established a youth basketball league in Belgium, as well as tutored squads from U.S. colleges like Duke, the University of Connecticut and Virginia Tech.

Credentials are obviously not an issue for Fransquet, who will coach the professional Belgian squad Geel next season after spending this year in Luxembourg.

"Basketball is my life, I eat, sleep it, and breathe it, and it's helped me to meet people in many different countries that I'd never been to before," said Fransquet. "I've been to Norway, Finland, Turkey, Portugal, Hungary, and many more because of basketball."

In addition to expeditions across Europe and the Middle East, Fransquet has also spent his fair share of time stateside.

"This is my 15th trip to the U.S., and my third to Arizona," said Fransquet.

The first two trips were with the Belgian national team during the 1980s, some of them in Tucson to play the University of Arizona.

While his first experiences in the Old Pueblo were more of a whirlwind, Fransquet said this time around, he's taken some time to take in Tucson and the surrounding area.

"Usually with the national team, you are here to play, then you get on the plane right away," said Fransquet. "This time I got to know the south part of Arizona, and I like it."

Despite allowing himself some time to see the sights, Fransquet made it clear that no matter where he's looking, his eye is always on the game of basketball and its changing landscape. That's what he truly enjoys exploring.

"U.S. basketball is the best," said Fransquet matter-of-factly. "But I think the gap between European and US basketball is maybe not as big as it was."

"When you watch the college game here (in the U.S.), it's much more physical," he added. "But in Lithuania and Spain they are 6-10 and they are shooting three's."

It's that kind of global outlook on the game that caused Umstead to jump at the chance to invite Fransquet to Green Fields, a chance provided by a mutual coaching friend.

"I thought it was a fantastic experience for all the participants," said Umstead. "To bring in a guy that had been doing this for so long, it was great for them, and it's really fortunate that I knew someone so this could happen."

Fransquet has noticed the camps are smaller this year (the Green Fields camp totaled around 25, both boys and girls), reasoning the shrinkage is "probably economic," but that hasn't stopped him from sticking to the coaching goals he's adhered to for years.

"Coming here is very serious, the first goal is to learn something," said Fransquet.

"But at the same time, to have fun."

According to Umstead, those goals paid off for the athletes, most of whom attend Green Fields.

"I just saw the guys and girls grow tremendously throughout the week," said Umstead. "All the facets of their game improved."

While Fransquet brought an eclectic and varied background to the table, Umstead points at one coaching technique that seems to be universal.

"Obviously he's very passionate about the game," said Umstead. "(The athletes) picked up on that."

© 2014 The Explorer. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

More about

More about

More about

Welcome to the discussion.

Kino College

Kino CollegeEnroll today: http://www.kinocollege.com/

HS Schedule

Tuesday, September 16

Boys Golf (@ 3 p.m.)

Buena, Cienega at Marana

Mountain View, Ironwood Ridge, Catalina at Amphi (Silverbell GC)

Catalina Foothills, Pueblo, Sahuarita at Sahuaro

Girls Volleyball (Fr 4 p.m., JV 5 p.m., Var 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Mountain View at Rio Rico

Ironwood Ridge at Glendale Ironwood

Swimming (@4 p.m.)

Pusch Ridge, Sahuarita at Desert Christian

Wednesday, September 17

Girls Golf (@ 3 p.m.)

Rincon at CDO

Ironwood Ridge, Desert View at Flowing Wells (Silverbell)

Cross Country (@4:30)

Salpointe at Catalina Foothills

Palo Verde, Nogales at Marana

Rincon, St. Gregory at CDO

Sahuarita, Pueblo, Pusch Ridge at Desert View

Girls Volleyball (Fr 4 p.m., JV 5 p.m., Var 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Empire at Marana (4:30, 5:30, 6:30)

CDO at Queen Creek

Cienega at Mountain View

Sahuaro at Catalina Foothills

Walden Grove at Pusch Ridge

Thursday, September 18

Girls Golf

CDO, Ironwood Ridge at Phoenix Aguila Invitational (all day)

Boys Golf

Sahuaro and Salpointe at Ironwood Ridge

CDO, Rincon, Sunnyside at Tucson High

Girls Volleyball (Fr 4 p.m., JV 5 p.m., Var 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Marana at Sahuarita

Ironwood Ridge at Sahuaro (4:30, 5:30, 6:30)

Catalina Foothills at Rincon

Pusch Ridge at San Manuel

Swimming (4 p.m.)

Marana vs. Tucson at Quincy Douglas Pool

Cienega at Marana

CDO, Ironwood Ridge at Amphi

Catalina Foothills at Sahuaro

Freshman Football (all games at 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Flowing Wells at Marana (4 p.m.)

Desert View at Mountain View

Cienega at CDO

Ironwood Ridge at Buena

Catalina Foothills at Sahuarita

JV Football (all games at 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Amphi at Marana

Santa Cruz Valley at Pusch Ridge

Mountain View at Desert View

CDO at Cienega

Buena at Ironwood Ridge

Sahuarita at Catalina Foothills

Friday, September 19

Boys Golf

Catalina Foothills, Ironwood Ridge, CDO, at Phoenix Aguila Invitational (all day)

Cross Country

Mountain View, Ironwood Ridge at Mt. Carmel Invitational (San Diego, CA)

Girls Volleyball

CDO at Westwood Tournament of Champions

Football (@7 p.m.)

Pusch Ridge at Santa Cruz Valley

Catalina at Marana

Desert Vista at Mountain View

Ironwood Ridge at Buena

Cienega at CDO

Catalina Foothills at Sahuarita

Saturday, September 20

Boys Golf

Catalina Foothills, Ironwood Ridge, CDO, at Phoenix Aguila Invitational (all day)

Cross Country

Marana at Old Pueblo Invite(Lincoln Park)

Mountain View at San Diego

Catalina Foothills, CDO at Ojo Rojo (Chandler, AZ)


Marana at Wolves Classic (Chandler High)

Girls Volleyball

CDO at Westwood Tournament of Champions


MOS: Storms and Floods

We asked the community about the coming floods and storms.

MOS: Back To School

We asked the community about the new school semester starting.

More Featured Videos

Follow us on Facebook