NCC 75- UW OSHKOSH 95
Goals met: ZERO
COMMENTS: You can see how we struggled again to get ORBs. But after the game we watched film and I think the kids are finally starting to understand that against good teams you have to WILL yourself to get to the boards.
Oshkosh was very sound defensively, but we didn't do ourselves any favors with our offensive spacing: instead of playing on the fades and curls, we were positioning ourselves at the wings and curls...Oh, but wait! We don't have a wing spot. Maybe that's why we didn't have any room to break down the defense with penetration.
Oshkosh was also one of the first opponents who has tried to run a ball control game plan on us, using a Spread-Delay 2-1-2 set, and our defensive reactions were just too slow to keep them from holding the ball on us (thus the slow tempo and low FGAs).
And that, Ladies and Gentlemen, is why you need to play a tough schedule in the pre-season. They expose your weaknesses and force you to improve. Some of our previous opponents were weaker, and we frankly got away with playing half-speed defensively. A good team will burn you, but that's how you learn! As I always told my teams at ONU, "The key to success is failure."
NCC 104- GOUCHER 90
33% ORBs (60% in the second half!)
GOALS MET: 4
COMMENTS: Much better performance against a very athletic Goucher team. They attacked the press exactly opposite of the way UW-Oshkosh did in yesterday's game: got it in to their quick PG and split traps all day. Maybe we learned a lesson... against Spread-Delay pass oriented press breakers, you have to get up in their grill and force them to dribble and make bad passes, but versus teams trying to beat your press with speed, you must play the trap by keeping a cushion and containing the ball-handler, without giving in to the temptation to reach for the ball, which just doesn't work against quick guards.
In general, we felt really good about the win, and about our third 100 point game in the past four games. Now we head home for the Christmas break and are looking forward to the beginning of the CCIW season starting on January 2nd! But before taking a brief holiday blogging sabbatical, I wanted to quickly recap the fall semester by assessing where we I think are right now:
Exactly where we should be. One of the things that relaxes me as a coach is understanding that it's nonsense to tell yourself, "We ought to be better." No, you are exactly as good as you have any right to expect, given your talent level, practice habits, and strength of schedule. So don't waste any emotional energy thinking you should be better than you are. As my older cousin Darrell told me on the golf course when I was 13, "Doug, you aren't good enough yet to be getting this upset about playing bad." Point taken.
BUT, regardless of where you are at this point in the season, you should be getting better. You should be seeing improvement, and you should be pretty close to the "light bulb" phase of the season, where almost overnight the players seem to just get it, taking a quantum leap forward in their execution, and in their confidence. That's one thing you'll notice about System teams: barring serious injuries, they almost always are a lot better in January and February than they were in November.
You might respond by saying, "Isn't that true of all basketball teams?" No, it isn't. A lot of non-System teams actually get worse late in the season because of the physical and emotional toll of grinding practices and lack of PT from your bottom five, who tend to then create drama's that eat away at your practice work ethic and game success. System teams, on the other hand, tend to be (for the most part) comparatively happy. Happy players are more productive players, I think, because fun is a pretty good motivator.
In addition, from a technical standpoint the other thing that makes System teams better in the second half of the season is that
- their offense flows more smoothly because roles are being accepted and players aren't needing to think as much, and
- their defense starts to anticipate better and players begins to intercept or deflect to those passes they were just missing a month earlier.
In other words, your team after Christmas break will be happier, fresher, and smarter. Why shouldn't they win?
So, until December 30, Merry Christmas!