Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Basketball Diaries: Chapter Five.

[Editor's Note: This blog has an ulterior motive and that motive is The AverageBro Challenge™. Watch me walk the talk firsthand as I coach a team of 6th graders this Winter in our newest series, The Basketball Diaries. If you need a refresher, backtrack and read prior chapters.]


We're officially in "wait till next year" mode now. At some point, you dial back your expectations and start dealing with reality. We're there.

Our local NBA team finally decided to throw in the towel and start tanking games so they can win the Blake Griffin Sweepstakes next Summer. Sometimes, for your own sanity, you have to start looking forward. Next year, assuming I coach again, we'll get an all new set of kids, and hopefully some talent. This year, we're just playing out the string.

Practice is becoming more predictable and more efficient. Now that we're working solely on perfecting the Princeton Offense (although our version is so scaled back, maybe I should call it the DeVry Offense), the kids know what to do every week when they arrive. We meet as a team, run, then go directly into halfcourt drills.

One surprise arrived last night, in the word that our pudgy wingman, Carlos, would no longer be playing. Of course he didn't call to tell me this, preferring to relay the message via Lucas. The explanation was that he wasn't doing well in school, but honestly, I think he just quit. Last week, he was sucking air and blowing defensive rotations. Not having him on the team leaves us with 9 players, which is actually better. All kids must play at least two uninterrupted quarters. With fewer than 10 players, we don't have to platoon lineups and can substitute more freely. So, while I'll miss Carlos sunny demeanor, this probably helps us in the longterm.

Last week's biggest problem returned tonight, in the form of Paul's Dad. Last week, you'll recall, was Paul's first practice with the team, and his Dad, instead of sitting his old ass on the side and watching, found a way to insert himself into each and every drill, barking out orders that usually contradicted what ANewP and I were telling the kids. Most of his advice was good pointers: protect your dribble, don't pick up your dribble, split the defense if the look is there. But what he doesn't understand is that those nuances are things you tell kids who are at a Level 8 (of 10) in understanding basic concepts. Our kids as a whole are a negative 3 right now. These pointers only confuse them.

Last night, Paul (who missed last week's game) returned, and this time, his Dad (who, again, hasn't seen a game and is only at his 2nd practice) decided to interject himself into the drills even more. While we're trying to get the kids to understand the bare essentials of running the triangle, this guy is getting caught up with nuances yet again, and can't allow us to run the drill 15 seconds without interjecting. Again, his advice is sound, but if the kids can't pickup the basics, advanced techniques are only going to add to the confusion.

I (nicely, might I add) inform him of this repeatedly, but this guy (I'll call him Juney) just keeps right on. When we finally start scrimmaging, he is literally barking orders like a Drill Sergeant, and telling the kids things that completely contradict what I'm saying. This just makes the offense stagnate, because the kids are hearing 2 different things and instead of playing, they are overthinking. It's like driving on the Autobahn and having 20 folks in the backseat offering their opinions on when to change lanes and downshift.

A 90 minute practice ends, and honestly, I still don't think the kids understand the offense. We'll find out Sunday. But one thing is for certain, Juney is going to get his f*ckin' chin checked if he don't get in line. We (again) discussed the necessity of the kids only hearing one voice at a time, he says he understands better now, but we will see. If he is barking out orders from the stands during play tomorrow, there will be some damn consequences and repercussions.

I've tried it the nice, diplomatic way. Next time, I'm going full blown C.Y.I.N.

Get down, or lay down. Juney.

Sunday (Postgame)

Another week, another loss. What's new?

I smelled a win in the air this morning. I even went to the basement closet and pulled out my lucky Nupe gear, the vaunted Jared Jeffries #1 Hoosier jawn, to wear on the sideline. If the sight of their coach in a Krimson and Kreme Indiana jersey didn't motivate these kids, what could?

The kids did actually try and run the offense today, but they just did it in the laziest and most predicatable of manners. Passes were telegraphed. Dribbles were picked up. Turnovers were abundant. We only trailed by one after the first quarter, and 5 at half. We felt good going into the second half. So good that ANewP and I made a fatal mistake.

Carlos decided to come back after all. He had been suspended from school because his teacher didn't allow him to "go take a piss" (his words, not mine) when he felt like it. His mom allowed him to play Sunday anyway. This meant we had a full roster of 10, which also meant we had to platoon squads, not freely substitute (it's complicated) as we could if we had only 9 kids. So, we decided to put our 2nd team back in for the 3rd quarter, and "save" the starters for the 4th. Bad idea.

The opposing team (which only had 6 kids might I add) switched into high gear and started pick and rolling, screening, backdooring, and otherwise emasculating the poor Panthers. Before I knew it, the deficit was 9, then 15, then 24. The game was effectively over in the 3rd. We made the final score respectable in the 4th, but it was too little too late. 36-18 loss.

So, we learned to put the best team on the floor in the 3rd, not "save them" for a 4th quarter anymore. I'd rather blow a lead in the 4th than get blown out in the 3rd. It's gonna be a loss either way, but at least it could be dramatic. As is, this sh*t is just getting old.

There was silver lining, however. Paul (who played with the 2nd unit) didn't play very well in his first game. In fact, the stunk on toast. Loudmouth a$$ed Junie just sat there in the stands, quiet as a church mouse. Perhaps he now understands that it ain't nearly as easy as it looks. If he doesn't bring his kid back on Friday, I will be relieved. Besides, he can't pop sh*t, his kid isn't even technically registered yet. If he wants to backseat coach, he can pony up the $75 like the other parents did. Otherwise, come to practice, sit down, and drink your tall icy can of STFU.

Sorry, was than uncoach-like? Who cares? We're winless.

Season Record: 0 Wins - 4 Losses.

Next Opponent: Team Wise.

Question: Got any magic bullets? Can you believe the gall of Junie showing up at only his 2nd practice and assuming he's the head coach? How do you deal with such delusional individuals? Should I send some goons to his parking lot, or is this merely the sort of thing that happens when you're coaching a losing team?

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