The long layoff – 86(!) days between games this season – really did a number on us. And it was the heart of our schedule we missed, i.e. the MIS, the BCS Inv, the Anderson-Bailly and the Visser-MacLeod. The best two months of the season, bonding-wise AND basketball-wise, as we lost out on the instant feedback/improvement that same-day tournament games give you. January and February are why Stanstead historically improves more than anyone else over the course of a season.
The effects are still lingering. And with only five days left in the season, there is no time for a full recovery. We basically started from scratch three weeks ago, and it shows. This past Saturday’s game vs Triolet was a study in your Spartans re-learning how to play fast and compete against the best. Practice speed is WAY different than game speed. Familiarity with multiple offences and defences takes game experience. Manu? Spurs? Parker who? What-the-Duncan?! And without familiarity, you hesitate. And she who hesitates is lost.
We got away with if in the first half. Triolet missed a lot of shots, and kept trying to force their way inside our zone for closer shots. And in the first quarter we surprised them with some decent ball movement, a nice inbounds play three-pointer, and a couple fast breaks on our way to a 12-2 lead. But Triolet is good. Triolet is Sport-Etude. They’re tough, fast, athletic, individually skilled, and well-coached. They figured us out. They ramped up the speed, dialed up the aggression, got back on defence, stopped forcing it inside and committed to taking (and making!) three-pointers, and blitzed us in the second half – 23 pts in the third quarter alone. Final score 44-31 for Les Harfangs (who, kudos to them, had improved immensely from the first time we played them).
That said, it’s not like we played horribly. Gloria Riddell had a great first half defensively. Melissa Kakayuk-Antoine and Rosema Lefebvre adjusted well to the press. Hayley Wolfe was a presence in the high post. Rosema poured in an efficient 13 pts. Neva Deblois and Laura Bellini were active on both ends of the floor. Offensively, we generally created good looks, and defensively we forced jumpers.
But we didn’t play great, either. We weren’t together. We weren’t the well-oiled machine we would usually be at this point of the season. We were hesitant, a little confused, and in kind of a third gear.
Until the last 3 minutes, that is. We called timeout, talked about finishing strong regardless of the scoreboard, and proceeded to dominate the end of the game, forcing four straight turnovers from Trio, scoring 5 points ourselves, and most importantly looking like an athletic, committed unit out there who confidently knew their jobs and played with reckless abandon and zero hesitation.
The pandemic robbed us of reaching our potential, but we know it’s in us. Let’s treat the last two games of the season – vs the top two teams in D3(!) – like we treated the last three minutes vs Triolet. Let’s finish strong.
- Coaches Van Dyke & Wolfe
The year so far….
Overall Record: 4 wins 9 losses
RSEQ League Play: 3 wins 4 losses
Points for per game: 32.8 Points allowed per game: 34.6