Monday, December 06, 2004

Split Personality

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I don't have a whole lot to say about this game, and since it took place five days ago, the details are already fuzzy. Here's what I do remember:

• We were much, much better than this team, and it showed in the first quarter. Even without our starting center (Stephan had missed Tuesday's practice, so he didn't start) we dominated the opening period, 18-6. There was really nothing Butler could do to stop us, and it seemed like we got about ten offensive rebounds in the those first eight minutes. Butler was much smaller, and they had only three reserves on the bench. I was happy that we'd get to play everyone and work on somet things after building an insurmountable lead. This feeling lasted at least five minutes.

• As good as we were in the first quarter, we were that bad in the second. The boys obviously realized that they had the game in hand, so they stopped working hard. They got sloppy on offense and lazy on defense, and Butler suddenly had new life. They only scored eight points in the quarter, but they were gaining confidence. Our team looked horrible. Midway through the quarter I had seen enough, so I sent in five new players and pulled my starters off the floor.

• Things were much better in the third quarter. After a halftime tongue-lashing, the boys responded by scoring twenty-six points in eight minutes to regain control of the game. Our man to man defense forced a bushel of turnovers, and we rebounded well. As a coach, though, I can't ignore the fact that they scored fifteen points of their own.

• The highlight of the quarter came when Stephan got his dunk. Butler turned the ball over in transition and Stephan picked up the loose ball near half court. He's a fairly decent ball handler for his size, so he was able to dribble his way to the basket before elevating and throwing it down. The best part was the anticipation, because everyone on our bench knew that the attempt was coming. While the Butler team and crowd expected a layup, we knew what Stephan had in mind, and the effect was demoralizing. The Butler boys were stung by the dunk, and the few fans that had come to support us were celebrating as if we had won a championship. Since we were up by about twenty points at the time, I pulled Stephan so that the boys on the bench could congratulate him as well. As I walked in front of his spot on the bench a few minutes later I gently kicked his foot to get his attention. We looked at each other for a couple seconds without speaking, sharing only a smile.