Our laundry list of things to work on after our first game of the season (and 4(!) practices total) was pretty long. At the top of the list was REBOUNDING. #2 was DEFENCE. #3 was you name it.
And the most efficient way to address #1 and #2 at the same time was to try out a man defence, because rebounding out of a zone is way, way harder than rebounding out of man.
The problem was, there was zero chance, because of November Break, to actually practice between our home opener and our game this past Wednesday vs Marie-Rivier. No time AT ALL to properly install a man defence.
So we put one in anyway! In the 20 minutes before warmup. We talked basic principles, focused on a few critical points, practiced it half court for a little bit, and most importantly adopted the attitude that we were going to treat this game like a practice. An opportunity to get real-game experience playing man defence against a legit D3 team. Get our feet wet vs real competition. A trial by fire, because playing man is hard.
Clearly. Down 26-7 at halftime L. On pace for 52 pts allowed, which is, in a word, terrible. But despite the score, the halftime speech was optimistic, as our defensive rebounding (while not great by any stretch) was still better than last game (hard to be worse!), and several of the players were clearly getting more comfortable on D, making aggressive mistakes instead of clueless or nervous mistakes. Neva Deblois was playing tough and controlled, Gloria Riddell was getting that “I can defend anybody” look in her eye, Camryn Moore was born to play man defence, and Player Of The Game Avah St-Pierre looked like a completely different player than last week – confident, court-aware and playing with purpose. I knew the second half would be better.
And, oh yeah, was I right – 4 points allowed in the 3rd quarter! With the Fab Four leading the way, your Spartans played their best defence of the season, which created offensive opportunities that Siena Webster made the most of, scoring 10 second-half points, most of them in transition.
The comeback was on. After getting outscored by 19 in the first half, the Red & White took the third quarter 10-4, and were winning the fourth quarter 10-4 as well when they ran out of time and had to get desperate. Still down 34-27 with 3 minutes remaining, the take-crazy-chances go-for-steals full court defence didn’t pan out, and the game ended 44-30 for the visitors. But for the first 13 minutes of the second half, we outscored Marie-Rivier 20-8 in an inspired stretch of play that makes me think, yeah, this defence may end up working after all.
Especially if we spend more than 20 minutes practicing it.
Coaches Van Dyke & Wolfe
PS Big weekend coming up, with 4 tough Montreal schools (ECS, Sacred Heart, LCC and WIC) and one really good Ontario team (Appleby) coming to campus to participate, after a 1-year absence, in our Stanstead Invitational Tournament aka the ‘Dyke ‘n’ Friends Invitational. A lot of schools out there are jealous of us right now, hosting all these classy, high-calibre basketball programs for a full weekend of quality competition this early in the season. It doesn’t get much better than this – let’s make sure we enjoy it, and make sure we improve!