I sit down to write this week’s diary entry following a long and exhausting road swing against two non-conference opponents. I believe I logged enough road hours to earn my class C license! Yes, we traveled in school vans as the coaching staff took turns driving and re-caffinating!
Unfortunately, we dropped both contests. The first game at Stonehill College found us playing catch-up all evening, as nothing seemed to go our way. Our defense never clicked. Their post players were far too versatile to lock in to one specific style of defense. When we packed in our zone, they beat us from behind the three-point line and when we went man-to-man, they isolated us in the post and scored over the top. The second game pitted us against LeMoyne College. This is a place that is near and dear to my heart, as my mother and father spent much of their early years of courtship in that very same gymnasium. Like my father, I too am an alumnus of LeMoyne, having earned a Master’s Degree from there in 2002. Our kids responded well early to my pleas of pressure defense and spread offense against their enormous size advantage. We went into halftime deadlocked. However, we seemed to run out of steam and fell behind double digits late in the game, eventually losing the contest by 16 points. I would never think to displace my frustrations of losing a game on anyone but ourselves. But, I have to admit looking over the final box score, I found we only went to the foul line three times in 40 minutes while our opponent went to the line 22 times. I find it difficult to imagine when we centered our game plan on dribble isolations to the basket for our best players, that we couldn’t have earned a few more free throw attempts. An unfavorable whistle to say the least…Just one more hurdle you have to dodge when you play on the road.
As we head into the New Year, I am pleased with the progress our kids have made in two areas. First, they have started to become comfortable in our motion offense. We run a concept-based motion with little set plays, complete with a read-and-react cut system. This is common at the collegiate and pro levels. Much like a new pair of sneakers, it takes some time to break in and feel completely comfortable. But, once you feel comfortable with the concepts, you can begin to break down opponents and use their aggressiveness, size, and speed against them. The second area of progress I have noted is our ability to change defenses. In our two conference wins, we played completely different styles of defense. We have shown the ability to rotate and slide in our zone defense to neutralize the size disadvantage as well as lock in and cover good perimeter shooters in our man-to-man defense. The ability to show multiple defenses becomes an ace in the hole when we get into the latter stages of conference play.
Following a few days off for the Christmas holiday, we head back on the road to play St. Anselm’s College and Southern New Hampshire College in Manchester, NH. Both opponents are formidable and we need to put together longer stretches of solid defense and execute our motion offense in order to put ourselves in position to win.
I am also proud to report there will be new member of my immediate family. My brother announced he was engaged to be married, and I will now have a sister-in-law. My mother is happy to finally have another woman in the family. God bless Mom for putting up with all of us men for so many years!
Please let me extend my heartfelt wishes for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of our readers, families, and friends. Your continued love and support for us is more valuable than any gift we may unwrap under the tree this week!