Month: November 2012

3 in 3

There is a process to improvement, and like any process there is a logic to it.  That logic does not seem to be appreciated by those responsible for scheduling basketball games in the Seminole Athletic Conference.  Both Hagerty and Winter Springs played three games in three nights this week….to there detriment.

Hagerty started the week with a win over Lyman and lost to Brantley.  On the third night, a visibly fatigued Husky team got whipped by Winter Springs, a team they had beaten twice this summer in close games.

Winter Springs beat Lake Mary and the aforementioned Hagerty, but tonight lost to Oviedo by six.  Poor rebounding and subpar transition defense figures prominently in the loss.  These are effort categories and suffering in them is indicative of a tired team.

There is a component of athletic competition that demands the ignorance of potential excuses in favor testosterone-fueled heroics, but there is also a component of growth and development that demands with equal fervor the ability to play a game, recognize mistakes, practice to improve them….and then play another game to measure that improvement.  The balance of these components should be weighted in favor of growth amd improvement at the JV level.

Sharing Insight From Kevin Eastman

It’s important in the process of learning not to get in our own way by thinking we know how or believe there is only one way of doing it. but rather we must strive to be open to trying a different way and learning. It is the only route to development, and it’s only potential impediment is our own mind.

Boston Celtic assistant Kevin Eastman had a great post called “The Beginners” that I have shared below speaking to this point.

There are many coaches who have veteran teams, which of course has some advantages. But when we have a team like this we always want to make sure they have the mindset of a beginner. We want them to be like beginners when we’re teaching them in practice, coaching them in a game, or talking in a team meeting. But we want them to rely on their experience and know when that’s needed as well. The reason this is important is that we have found that beginners are open; experts are closed. Experts are closed to new ideas, closed to new ways, closed to a different concept, generally closed from everything except what they’re already comfortable with or want to keep doing.

Beginners are always open to new ideas, new ways to do things, new ways to improve. Where this comes into play is when we are teaching and coaching our players. We want them to trust that we have spent countless hours and years perfecting our way of doing things and that they are the best ways for our team that year. The players and teams that never reach success are the ones that challenge, oppose, or distrust everything their coaches put out there for them.

So if we have our choice, we want the beginner’s mindset. We want our players’ minds to be open and ready to absorb and execute what we have thoroughly thought through and believe to be the best for our team that year!

The Game That Didn’t Get Played

Last night, my alma mater played and lost a football game to the Florida Gators 37-26.  Florida did a number of great things, they won the battle at the line of scrimmage and converted third downs at a high rate.  When the game got tight, they remained composed and kept playing.  They dominated the fourth quarter and were deserving winners of the game.

In truth, another game could have been played,  but wasn’t.  It would have been a game where Florida State didn’t turn the ball over five times.  I offer this not as an excuse, but rather to highlight the devastating impact of turning the ball over. 

Florida started the game with a long drive and a field goal.  FSU responded with a nice drive, but were undone with an ill-advised interception in the red zone negating a chance to tie or take the lead.  Manual’s second interception and Karlos William’s fumble both set the Gators up deep in FSU territory.  One of the miscues resulted in points, but both contributed to Florida possessing the ball for a disproportionate share od the first half.  This wore down the FSU defense and with so few plays prevented any offensive rhythm.

FSU trailed 13-3 at half and turned it over on their first possession of the second half while on the move.  Opporrunity lost.  The fifth and final turnover was a Manual fumble that was turned into a back breaking 37 yard touchdown. 

The time and score dynamic irreversibly changed with each turnover.  The game was literally given away.  Turnovers decide games against comparably matched teams more than any other factor.

Disney Showcase

The first time I met Coach Alan Hough, I was impressed.  He came across as competent and confident.  If I remembered nothing else from his opening speach, it was that we would win the Disney Showcase.  I should have thought instead of Bryson’s prior coach Ivo, who similarly guaranteed passage into the second round of Region’s Cup.   For as I close the day, neither has come to fruition.

We won one, lost one, and tied one.  Mathematically eliminated before we playes our final group game.  The error is not in the intent for if a coach or team doesn’t see for itself victory, it shall never come to pass.  The error is in the prematurity of the declaration.  In both instances, it was made before practice began, or games were played.

It is in this experience that the nature and capability of the group is revealed.  It can be safely said that our FC America team is talented, but the Showcase field was full of talent.  Our method of play is as yet an unresolved work in progress, roles fluid and undefined, stylistically we are monolithically direct.  We will not approach our potential mired in this quag.

We were nonetheless gloriously close.  A left-footed shot taken from six yards out just six inches lower and we would be playing tomorrow.  Games of this quality are determined by these narrow margins.  We are 2-3-1 in our last two tournament s with three of the four adverse results so by the difference of a single goal.  There is an art and a craft, we haven’t learned, to winning these games that is part gritty engineering and equal part religious belief.

When, not if, we reach this realization, we might fairly dertermine our future results.

Half-time

As recounted in my previous post, I attended the Winter Springs/Lake Brantley triple-header on Monday night.  Among the many things missed was half-time.  It is a critical point in the game where the coach can have significant influence on the action that will follow.

A good half-time must be topical and in the moment.  You can address mistakes of the past, but shouldn’t belabor them as they can’t be changed, but can be corrected.  If you vent, you must follow with a solution either tactical or attitude.  Tactical adjustments must be clear, and focused to two or three things so as not to clutter the mind of your team.  It is the responsibility of the coach to make adjustments to aspects of the game that are effecting the outcome, not peripheral components requiring more in depth work.

Finally, there must be a contextual, emotional component that provides the big picture narrative for the second half. This can draw on a call for manhood, a plea to competitive instinct, a redefinition of circumstance, or an objective challenge.

Thankful

I’m not happy. I’m angry. I’m frustrated. I won’t forget. It’s wrong and will never be right. But tonight I am thankful for making the decision I did. A decision I thought about and wavered on for the last 24 hours. I had an excuse. Bryson had practice. No brainer, but after yesterday’s game, practice was cancelled and my excuse was gone. It was on me. Would I go to see my guys play their first game tonight or not?

I went. I arrived at the tip of the freshman game. Several varsity players came over and got me talking. I spoke to a few parents, but my guys were sparse. A few nods, a couple handshakes, and eventually a few sat down with me. Dallas spontaneously said what I was feeling, “I miss you man.” Through the next ten minutes or so there were some random flurries of dust particles in the gym. I weathered the storm, and near the start of the JV I agreed to keep the book.

The game started slowly. Brantley in my estimation wasn’t very good, but the took an early 10-4 lead. My guys got going as the first quarter went along and trailed 17-14. The second quarter was scintillating. They pressed, and trapped and scored in bundles winning the quarter 28-18 to lead at the half 42-35.

I always took pride in my half-time work, and was distressed to see Brantley reverse the game in the third taking a 55-49 lead. Elijah Grooms hit two 3’s to start the 4th and draw the game level. The lead changed hands several times in the next seven minutes in a thrilling game. Elijah was on fire. Down 1 with under 20 seconds to play he came off a high screen and nailed a 3 with 11.5 seconds left to go up 72-70. Brantley missed, Dallas rebounded and hit 2 free throws. It ended 75-70. Elijah finished with 40 points.

I was not where I should be, but I felt connected to their accomplishment borne of the toil we endured over the last 10 months. They were not perfect, but they were improved, matured and composed when they needed to be.

I am reminded of Phillip of Macedonia’s words to Alexander the Great, “Ask for thyself another kingdom for that which I leave is too small.”

Crafty Veteran

I started the crafty veteran movement at Oviedo during open gym. I was in my late 30’s and Wes Below was in his early 20’s which put him at least a few years older than any Oviedo varsity player. Frustrated by playing with any four of the varsity players, we decided to join forces and play together with three hand-picked players. The result was victory.

Sans a crafty veteran, the varsity players would selfishly cast up bad shots and play with little or no defensive cohesion. Our team would snap the ball around, find easy shots, and force our younger opponents to play to their weaknesses. We could be out-run, out-jumped, and out-hustled, but not beaten. It was simple and absurdly unfair.

The crafty veteran movement is about economy of energy and purpose. The frivolous giving way to the functional. It is the intense focus on those things that matter in a game, protecting the ball, spacing, movement, unselfishness, playing in the present and making the game difficult for the opponent without the distraction of self-interested mind.

It is both beauty and power.