I last posted on Saturday about Basket St. Oren’s and how my first official games were Saturday as both a coach and player (although I can’t play because I’m not yet registered with the French Federation of Basketball).
Anyway, I showed up to the gym and first look at my U15 boys, I thought they were still sleeping. They went and got changed for the game. Even then, as they came out of the locker room they still were half asleep. I led them through a long dynamic warmup hoping that it would wake them up, get the blood flowing and get them ready for the game. However, come time for tipoff, they were in for a rude awakening. The boys know that they are a solid team, but the other team clearly didn’t care. We had a very sluggish first quarter and only led by a few points. They came a live a little more in the second and we went into halftime leading by about 9 or 10. Third quarter came around and the boys were finally ready to play.
We spent the previous couple weeks working on our 2-2-1 press, but as I mentioned we weren’t moving too quickly in the first half. Second half, BOOM. It was like a completely different team. I think a span of about 2 minutes went by where the other team didn’t get the ball past halfcourt. The boys were finally ready to play. We finished up the game strong and won by about 30. It was a decent game for our boys, but I told them that we can’t just play 1 half against better teams. Also we need to pay more attention to details as we missed a whole bunch of layups. Nonetheless, I was proud the way they bounced back after a poor half of basketball. Furthermore, I was able to get all 10 of the guys in the game with decent playing time for everyone.
There was some time off in between games. Felt like I was back in my days of AAU, playing games, sitting watching games, shooting around on the sides, during timeouts, having snacks etc. (except now my snacks include several cups of coffee!).
Finally, after a few hours it was time for our second game. Mind you, this wasn’t just a day or weekend tournament. This is a regional tournament that we’re competing in to try and play in a higher division. I could tell by the warmup of the second game that the boys were going to come out much stronger. Which they did. We were up 20 points by the end of the first quarter. Again, I was able to get everybody in the game with legitimate playing time. You’re only allowed to have 10 kids on the score sheet, but I had 12 players. I had two kids sit for the first game, then a different two sit for the second game. As I mentioned, everyone had decent playing time, and almost everyone scored too! We ended up winning this game by 40.
Now I’m not a fan of running up the score against lesser opponents. Although here, you see it a lot. Point differential is apparently a huge deciding factor when it comes time for teams to qualify and get seeded and all that nonsense. This isn’t something that I’m a big advocate for. This is youth basketball and nobody needs to be embarrassed. Granted, it’s easy for me to say that after winning two games by 30 and 40, respectively. However, in my own defense, there is a 24 second shot clock and I did take my press off for periods of the game.
To kind of take advantage of this opportunity to talk a little more about my coaching philosophy, especially regarding youth basketball, I’m not a big fan of throwing a million of X’s and O’s at kids who are 13 and 14. We don’t have a whole bunch of systems or anything. Just some basic motions where they can learn basic basketball, and how/where they should cut when and why. My main focus has been teaching them pressure man to man defense, how to play a 2-2-1 press, and develop them individually as basketball players. Too often these days, kids are not taught the basic fundamentals of the game. There is such a big emphasis on winning that kids never learn proper footwork on a layup, how to dribble correctly, or that they should do form shooting before they start jacking 3’s. Jerome, who I have mentioned before from Bordeaux, feels the same way. He has worked with his girls on their individual skills and now that they are 15,16, and 17 they are all so fundamentally sound that they are almost an unstoppable team. It’s also like Philippe said to me, if you bring 10 Ferraris to a race, you’re going to win. So a lot of my training time is spent on helping the boys develop these individual skills and fundamentals and helping them develop as well-rounded basketball players. And obviously with my passion for fitness, I love to incorporate some quickness, agility, explosiveness, and strength building.
Ok, sorry for going off on that tangent, but I couldn’t help myself. So we won both games. Come Saturday night it was time for my team’s game that I am a player on. Sitting there during warmups and for the majority of the game, my feet were bouncing up and down, my legs were shaking. Every athlete knows how much it sucks when you can’t play with your team. I’m not talking about being on the bench and not getting playing time. I mean being hurt, or not being allowed to play. It sucks. But the best thing you can do is support your team. The guys played very well and we pulled out a solid win by about 15-20 points. I’m still not sure when I’ll be able to play, but either way I’m still working my tail off in training trying to help the team in any way I can.
Sunday afternoon the women’s team that I assist Philippe in coaching had their first official game as well. Unfortunately, we lost an extremely tough game by 6. It was kind of by 3 but their PG, who was a phenomenal player-dropped about 40, just chucked the ball up from almost half court and it went in. They were a very solid team and our girls played tough. We recognized a few things we need to work on this week and next week in training, as there is no game this weekend. Also, we talked (myself, Philippe, and Vincent) about how we may go about things a bit differently next time we play that team.
All in all, a solid weekend of hoops.
Here are some photos from the U15 games