Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Game Log 1/17/2007: Wow! What a tight game.

7-2 at 1-7. I was ready to get into blowout management mode. It's only natural.

Nope. The underdog, Blue, jumped out to a huge 14-3 lead. They maintained an 8-point lead at halftime. In the locker room, partners Chuck (longtime veteran) and Greg (relative newcomer) and I talked about the surprise of the score. "White's got a run in them," we said. "Be ready."

Third quarter...same old same old. Blue is up by ten. Amazing. We have an amazing upset on our hands.

I'm feeling just a little bit off at this game, perhaps because weather postponments and a holiday weekend have kept me off the court for the last 8 days (and off varsity ball for the last 12). I come out a little too strong...I call five of the first seven fouls, and a couple of them are across the paint when I'm lead. DAMMIT! NO MORE LEAD CALLS ACROSS THE PAINT!!! Things settle a little bit, and I don't feel like I'm screwing anything up (only one call that I want back). But I still want to back off. Holy cow...but I do. I wind up calling only 2 of the 16 fouls in the second in each quarter. This plays a little with my mind (am I missing anything?) but not too much. Again...I don't feel like I'm calling any outrageous passes.

In fact, the worst mistake I made was an uncharacteristic lack of communication. As lead, I bounced the ball to the free-thrower (shooting one shot) before one of my partners was ready. Thank God she made it...otherwise I would have totally sold my partners down the river. I'll chalk it up to a brain freeze...I think this is the first time I've done that in nine years. I won't let it happen again. Free throws are a great chance to slow down anyway.

So we reach the final 1:03. The score is tied, and I am lead. Blue has the ball. They pass it around for 28 seconds before launching a three. (The shot clock is clear...the bench is counting it down.) It hits only glass and goes off of White over the baseline. I give the ball to Blue, then look up at the shot clock. It reads 27.

Uh-oh. I think it was reset by mistake.

I'm lead, so I have no business looking up at the rim (and to be honest, I don't think I was (but I was confident the ball hit only glass). I run over to Chuck, my T, the veteran of the crew. He's got a look on his face that tells me he shares my sense that something is awry.

ME: Did that ball hit the rim?
CHUCK: I don't believe it did, but I want you to check with Greg.

I run across the court to Greg. He tells me the ball did not hit the rim.

We have a shot clock violation.

Now, to explain it to Blue's coach. I do. A player on the bench says: "Oh! Just give the game to them!" Coach shushes her quickly (good move, coach). But then the coach speaks, and her words baffle me.

"I'm just worried you're letting him [Chuck] call the game for you."

Huh? I went to him. Maybe she'd noticed I'd had only two fouls that half?

Anyway, no sweat. We got it right. I go inbound the ball to White.

White runs the ball to midcourt. The game clock is running. The shot clock is not.

I stop the clock, and say: "I want a minute on the game clock and 27 seconds on the shot clock."

Long delay while they execute that. The shot clock wasn't running. During that delay, Blue's coach comes back.

We have a classic miscommunication. She believes the arrow incorrectly points to White. "They switched it after that last jump ball." The last jump ball was a long time ago. I go check with Greg (intentionally avoiding Chuck). He says the arrow is fine.

The conversation goes on too long. I could have stopped it there. Eventually, I figure out that she thinks a jump ball preceded the shot clock violation. It wasn' was just out of bounds off of White.

Eventually, we inbound the ball. Partner calls an egregious reach against Blue with 8 seconds left, and white makes one of two free throws. Blue, the prohibitive underdog, has the ball with 8 seconds left.

We come together to go over scenarios...a quick foul by White (not yet in the bonus), who has the last shot, etc. Three time outs and a foul later, I have the last shot. It is well in front of the buzzer, and hits back rim.

No upset.

All in all, in spite of the imperfections, I'm happy with my performance tonight. I didn't lose my cool late in a tight game. Rather than feeling nervous, I felt focused...deeply focused. It was a great night.

THINGS I DID WELL: Poise late, crew communication late, clock and shot clock awareness
THINGS TO WORK ON: Truncate lengthy exchanges with coaches...even if we're miscommunicating. Work for more crew integrity, both in fouls (don't have so many more or less) and in violations (they had loads of travels, and I didn't have any, which can't be good).
NEXT UP: Friday night's game should be a blowout...but then, tonight should have been too. As Chris Berman says, that's why they play the games.


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