Friday, November 19, 2004

The Woodshed


























  1 2 3 4 F
Wildcats
9
3
1
4
17
Eagles
23
17
23
0
63


The line score tells you that it was a blowout, but the game was not as close as the score might indicate. A quick word about the Wildcats. Their school is located downtown, in an area more blighted than ours, and year after year they have problems fielding a competitive team. It's been at least three years since they have won a game, which is an eternity. From talking to their coaches, I gather that they have huge issues with eligibility, a problem I can sympathize with.

And so on Wednesday night, my biggest challenge was keeping the score somewhat within reason. The game was over during pre-game warm-ups.

A few quick notes from the game:

• This was our first home game in almost three years, and I had forgotten how much fun it is to play in our gym. The bleachers filled up early with friends and family, and the fans were loud from the opening tip.

• On our second possession of the game -- I think we were actually trailing 3-2, the Wildcats' only lead of the night -- we got the ball into Stephan, but he had poor position, about two or three feet off of the left block. No matter. With his back to the basket, he faked left before spinning to the right and draining an eight-foot fade away jumper. The Wildcat coach looked over and gave me a smile that spoke volumes: you've got a guy who's six inches taller than any of my boys, and he can hit the fadeaway, too?

• Speaking of Stephan, he was our leading scorer with 14 points even though he played sparingly in the second half. I spoke with him before the game about dunking, and we decided that if the situation presented itself, he could throw it down. The situation never really presented itself, but that didn't stop Stephan from trying. At one point in the first half, Stephan found the ball in his lap and took off for the rim on the opposite end of the court. As soon as he crossed center court, the crowd realized what was going on and started cheering wildly, hoping to see a dunk. Unfortunately, Stephan was clearly thinking about it as well. Just as he was gathering himself for a run at the basket, the ball slipped out of his hands and rolled out of bounds. His second chance came early in the third quarter, but this time a much smaller Wildcat stepped in and took a charge, which was beautiful to see. Stephan's dunk will probably come at some point. I think I might be looking forward to it more than he is.

• The score. Obviously, we didn't go into this game hoping to win by 46 points. The problem is that our team is ridiculously deep. I did my best to keep the score down: I asked my point guards to walk the ball up the court, even at the expense of a fast break opportunity. I also played two sixth graders in the guard positions for the entire second half. We didn't score at all in the fourth quarter, which only served to keep the spread below fifty points.

• The aftermath. After such a convincing win, boys are constantly coming to me asking if they can still try out for the team. So sorry.

More on this game later, as well as a practice update and maybe even a preview of next Tuesday's game against the Wolverines, the defending city-champions.