This being election day reminds me that in much of life we have distinct choices, and how we choose affects our future.
Don't panic... I'm not going to go off on a political discourse, unless you consider System Basketball "politics" (which many people do). But I am going to point out what a stark a choice you have when you decide on a basketball philosophy, and how this can definitely impact your future in coaching.
Last night I got a text from Michelle. Her former assistant is now working at Northern Illinois University, so Michelle left right after practice to see NIU's first exhibition game. There were a couple of interesting things about the matchup.
First, the head coach at NIU is Kathy Bennett. Yes, that Bennett. Kathy is the daughter of former Wisconsin coach Dick Bennett, the high priest of ball-control basketball, and she is clearly her father's daughter. She's a really great coach, and back in the 1990's when she was head coach at DIII UW-Oshkosh I happened to see her team play in the national championship. What a great defense they had! Oshkosh completely shut down a very athletic opponent, and showed that one way to win vs. superior opposition is to hold the ball, get great shots, and give up nothing easy on the defensive end. Worked very well that night!
The other interesting thing about NIU's exhibition game was their opponent. They were playing Indiana Wesleyan University, a Division 2 NAIA team who we used to scrimmage every year when I was at ONU. IWU is also a great team with a great coach, Steve Brooks. Several years ago they went undefeated and won the national championship, averaging in the 40s defensively.
Talk about "the immovable force" vs. "the immovable force." Anyway, to get back to Michelle's text, she wrote, "It's 8-8 with 8:00 left in first half."
Ouch! Now on the one hand, that's amazing that a small school like IWU could hang with DI NIU. Coach Bennett obviously believes that in the end her team's discipline will prevail playing this style. Coach Brookes believes ball-control will keep them close, and that maybe they can sneak out a win at the end.
I don't know how the game turned out, but I can't imagine a more stark contrast with System ball. Were we to play NIU at this point in our development, I frankly doubt that we would be tied with them 12 minutes into the game as IWU was... but we'd sure have a lot more than 8 points.
At some point as a System coach you have to answer the question that my good friend and former University of Redlands coach Gary Smith posed several years ago: "How are you willing to lose?" Of course none of us wants to go down to defeat, but I'd rather lose 110-102 than 55-51. I'd rather "go down swinging." And, frankly, I'd rather lose 110-102 than win 55-51, because in the end I think the intangible benefits of System ball are worth the risks.
What's your choice? Once you "vote"for a philosophy, a style of play, you live with the consequences. I vote, early and often, for System Basketball.