The North Central Cardinals initiated the System Era this evening and it was a blast! I'm frankly stunned at how quickly we've picked up the basic concepts of our offense and defense. In practice this week we'd looked very ragged at times, but playing an uptempo team like ONU we were forced into playing a speed beyond what we would have thought possible up to now. Our effort was exceptional, our decision making was good, and our execution was good enough to get by. But our enthusiasm was off the charts!
The scrimmage format was simple, but made sense given this meeting of two System team. We played a regular 40 minute game, with NCC pressing the first ten minutes while ONU dropped back into a man-to-man defense. The second ten minutes of the first half the teams reversed roles with ONU pressing NCC. We repeated this routine in the second half.
I'd been worried this afternoon about our shift plans, because we had two players who were questionable. It's actually easier to create a shift-chart when you know definitely that someone is out for the game. But these two players were both borderline. One of our point guards was going to be either "Go" or "No go," while one of our posts was going to be "Limited duty" or "No go," or "Go." At 1 p.m. we still didn't know, waiting to see how they felt at game time.
Therefore, I had created five distinct shift charts encompassing all the likely permutations, while taking a few other factors, besides our injuries, into consideration:
- Consideration #1--It's hard for players in our structure to be ready to play two positions, which we had to consider in the various "No go" or "Limited action" scenarios, but I had to do that with two players in a few of the "No go" charts.
- Consideration #2--This being our first System experience, our G.A., Jackie, was serving as the Substitution Coach, and I knew we needed to create distinct shift charts for all possible scenarios, because we didn't want to put her in a situation where she had to decide, on the fly, how to alter the shift chart if we were forced to at the last minute. Normally we'd let the Sub coach wing it if necessary, but this was not the time to overburden her with on the spot decisions. Since we had time to preplan all options, that's what we did.
As it turned out, the PG was 100%, and the other player was able to go "limited duty." But having the charts pre-determined was well worth the effort. It is so nice as a System coach to go through this process of shift-chart planning, because it allows you to relax during the game, knowing with some degree of assurance approximately how many minutes each player will be in the game, and how much of a rest interval each will have between shifts.
I shudder to recall my pre-System days when one of the most stressful aspects of bench coaching for me was subbing players. "Has Janet played enough tonight? How long has Lauren been out there? Does this combination work?" A shift chart helps you think through all these things outside the heat of the game, and leaves it in the hands of an assistant. Jackie was thrilled to be assigned an important role, and since the System advocates getting contributions from every player throughout the game, it's perfectly in keeping with that philosophy to have an assistant coach assume responsibility for managing our substitutions throughout the game! Everyone has a job... everyone contributes to our success.
Michelle is sending me her thoughts about her first game coaching the System, which I'll post tomorrow or Sunday. But I think I've got a pretty good inkling of what she's going to say, based on the text I got from her half and hour after our scrimmage ended tonight:
"That was sooo fun!!!!!!!!