Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Stretch

Starting today, we play six basketball games in the next four days. One Thursday, one Friday, two Saturday, two Sunday. This is a key part of the year, where we need to learn to play defense, communicate, and translate that which was practiced into that which must be applied in full-on game speed. It's also a time where, if things go badly, we could really get buried in down-spirits.

Early prediction: 3-3.

Still, it's one game in and I'm already seeing the attrition. Last year's point guard and MVP is flaking, and I think it's because he knows I'll be on him all season about grades and classwork, and he just doesn't want to bother. The 3rd string point guard wasn't happy with his playing time, and although he doesn't know he just got promoted to 2nd string, he's telling people he wants to quit. My alternates/ managers also bailed.

Commitment, understanding it and living it, continues to be a big hurdle in the development of student athletes. No you can't wander off to buy junk food before practice, no you can't miss practice to wander around your neighborhood, no you can't go watch the wrestling match until it's time to play our game. On some level I wonder at why they come out at all, because playing sports was so much fun for me, I could never get enough, rarely wanted practice to end, remember crying at age 10 when a rain-out ruined my Saturday. The youth of today is clearly doomed.

So we got stomped on Thursday, really stomped on Friday, and I'm gonna take the blame. We can't play man defense. We aren't quick enough at the guard positions, and as a team, do not have enough game experience to understand positioning and the intricacies inherent in switching, recovery, and so on. Our first game in the weekend tournament starts at 1:00, and we're meeting early to practice our new zone defense.

On the bus coming home yesterday, there were three kids with the stony-eyed I-hate-losing face, one kid cuddling with his girlfriend who apparently volunteered to keep the scorebook for just this opportunity of after-the-game-bus-riding-cuddling-opportunities**, and the rest of the team using their camera phones to take pictures of the inside of their elbow while flexing their biceps, because, from the right angle, it looks like a butt.

**I made the last guy off the bench, the goofiest kid on the team, sit in between them as a chaperone.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know how you feel. A few years ago, my guys were all more interested in putting on the best "And 1" move then winning games. They couldn't believe that I would actually sit them for missing practice ("But coach, I had to get my hair cut!"). Defense was that time in between they got the ball when they took a breather. I wondered what in the world I was doing.

But now, things are VERY different. My group this year are every coach's dream. They spent their time on the bus to the game the other day diagramming our press breaker and discussing it. A little old lady who sat near us when we were watching our girls play complimented them on what 'nice young boys they are'. They play defense, they pass the ball, and they work hard everyday at practice.
Let me tell you, it makes those other years dealing with the knuckleheads worth it. And I guarantee you that you have a few guys on the team even this year who 'get it' and will get something from the experience.

We've all been there, coach!

6:48 AM  

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