While sitting on the varsity bench during the second of back to back blowouts, the mind wanders. Will my team ever win again? Is it really easier to kill a man once you’ve done it for the first time? If I talk in the locker room before a game, or even during half-time does anyone hear it? If God were truly merciful, shouldn’t he just take me now before Friday night at Evans? To break up these cheery thoughts, I decided to watch Hagerty’s Luke Doyle ask, why is he a good player?
For reasons unknown to me, Doyle sat the entire first half of the game. He started the second half, and hit a jump shot on his first touch of the game as if he’d been playing all night. Doyle, to my understanding is a junior, who stands about 6′ 3″. He has a sturdy build having added muscle since starting his varsity career as a freshman three years ago. He has a great shot, exceptional hands and ordinary athletic ability. As a freshman, I dismissed him as a prissy one-dimensional shooter. By district play his sophomore year, I was impressed by a player developing a complete game shooter, passer, defender and rebounder. Tonight, I saw a player that gets it, maximizing his abilities with poise and confidence.
This is not to say that Doyle is a big-time D1 recruit, but he is a terrific high school player with a chance to play in college. Time after time, Doyle was well positioned defensively and on the glass. He saw the game evolving in front of him, and read it. Saw where the play was going to be and in doing so did not waste energy chasing the game or get in positions where he committed senseless fouls. On the offensive end, each time he touched the ball he squared to the basket and again read what was before him. He played on balance with a wide base and knees bent. His head was up and the ball secure. His movements to pass, dribble and shoot were efficient. These core fundementals allowed him to play basketball and make basketball plays.
By contrast, my team was continuously off balance and hurried. Our shots didn’t fall, our passes were forced and predominately inaccurate. Rather than recieving the ball, squaring to the basket and holding space, we took the ball and dribbled with it immediately crowding each other on the floor and negating any opportunity we had to manipulate the defense. We never secured space on balance around the basket and got pushed off balance missing lay ups, losing rebounds and allowing Hagerty to get to the basket at will. It is painful to write this as it is a reflection of my inability to get my players to embrace the importance of these fundamentals. We are not what we were, and we must change what we are. Starts tomorrow.