Coach’s Corner, Part 8



Naomi Daychild.

Jeff Stanek, Adviser

A team is only as good as its next game, but we are on a little roll right now coming off of Wednesday’s blow-out of Reynolds.  The score does not show our dominance; we were up 32 when we subbed. Instead of recognizing that we were not going to try to win by 50, Reynolds left the starters in—which is OK—and changed to a full court man press—which is not OK—to make the final 53-38 score much closer than the game really was.  

Ellie Basinski had a good night as she tossed in 33 points on seven 3 pointers and a series of lay ins.  Neither is an all-time school record, but her name will be in the runner-up column of the books. Domonique Andrews controlled the game from the point position with 12 assists, and Maggie Martine had a huge rebounding night to end with 11.  

It’s water under the bridge, but to think that we lost to that team a couple weeks ago makes me sick to my stomach.  We had the same shots in both games. Three weeks ago we couldn’t drop the ball in the ocean if we were sitting in a boat; Wednesday we were hot early as we routed the Raiders.  It’s probably silly to hang our emotions on a 16-year-old girl’s ability to shoot a basketball, but that is what coaches do, so it was a little more fun than the first game against Reynolds.

Last week was full of surprises as we beat Clackamas and Barlow in consecutive games after those teams had beaten us by 25 and 34 points, respectively, the first time we played them. In all my years of coaching I’ve never seen such a turnaround.

The Barlow game was an example of what these kids can do when they are focused.  The game started with the Bruin’s Hannah Rispler—one of the top players in the league—scoring on an offensive rebound, leaving us down 2-0.  It was hard to fight the “here we go again” thought as Barlow pounded on the boards the first time, but Maddie McHone hit a three from the corner on our first possession and we never trailed again.  

Barlow tied it a few times, but we fought to keep them away and eventually led by 11 in the third quarter.  Ellie hit a three with just seconds to go in the half to put us up 25-22, and after a couple of bad possessions by both teams, we went on a little run to break the game open.  Domonique Andrews and Maggie Martine scored well in that stretch, but it was really McHone’s relentless defense and timely buckets that made the difference. Ellie didn’t shoot well, but she had 10 rebounds and nailed four straight FT’s late in the fourth to close the game.  

The second half of the game was not nearly as close as the 49-45 score indicates. We played very well, but still only shot 30% for the game but the 10-12 FT’s overall helped. McHone had 13, and Maggie and Dom both scored in double digits, too.

Rispler and I had a little gamesmanship during the game.  First, she tried to wear a hair ribbon—not allowed—and I called her on it when she was at the FT line.  The refs are supposed to remove a player immediately for this infraction. (Remember my ref stories earlier this season?  I am not making this stuff up! Too many of them are in way over their heads…..) But, despite warning both teams about “proper attire” in the pre-game huddle, the refs allowed this to continue, all with Rispler smiling at me as I protested.   Eventually the guys in stripes agreed that this was not legal, and removed Rispler from the game. She returned, of course, with no ribbon.

None of this matters to me as a ribbon has no effect on a player, but if the refs say they are going to do something, then do not do it, I get a little heated.  Fast forward to the fourth quarter—Rispler, who needs no help defending anyone, was hand checking Dom pretty hard. Our bench—mostly BJ Basinski and Kevin Christie—was riding the refs about it. Rispler finally drew her 4th foul (she would later foul out), sending Dom to the line.  

When I said, “She’s been doing it all game,” Rispler turned to me with another confident smile, then turned her head to show me she did not have a ribbon and “wagged” her hair at me. It was an act that only a highly confident athlete would attempt, and I loved it.  “Huge respect,” I said as we hugged after the game. I should have added, “And I’m glad we don’t have to play you again.”

She’s a nightmare match-up and that was a big win for us to cap off a great week.  

Tonight we play David Douglas.  The Scots are solid this year and play a defensive style that we simply do not like:  They guard the ball with frantic pressure. This makes players go faster than they “want to” go, and creates a lot of turnovers and mistakes.  If we can get the tempo at a pace that we can survive, they are not a great half court team and they do not shoot the ball particularly well. If they get us playing at their preferred pace, it will be really hard to beat them.  So it’s a matter of which teams gets to play their style.

The way we are playing, I like our chances, but it could go South in a hurry if we don’t tie our shoes like big girls.

* * * * *

Snow days can screw up a season.  Basketball is all about conditioning, timing and chemistry.  Staying sharp is important, and missing practices can really disrupt a team’s flow. So while most of you are hoping for more snow days next week, as a coach, I am not.   Over the years I’ve seen some crazy weather-related things happen to teams: Hood River once had to play six games in seven days, skipping only a Sunday, because of previous cancellations.  That’s hard to do.

But the worst I’ve seen was my second year at Sandy two years ago.  We had a pretty good squad, and we were rolling along as a top-5 team when the snow hit.   When it was over we had missed 17 practices. 17! That’s a huge chunk of the season and to compound the issue the teams we were playing did not miss many practices because the snow was on the mountain, not in the Metro area.  Twice we had to go into 3-games-in-3-day stretches with no practice for four or five days prior. It was brutal. We survived and ended up with 14 wins, but I can honestly say the weather beat us a couple times.

I do not want that to happen to this year’s team as we are playing pretty good ball right now and it would be a shame to have something we cannot control screw that up.  So there will be no snow dances coming from me this weekend.

But I wouldn’t complain about a few snow days right before Spring Break.

* * * * *

Tonight’s game is a Pink Out because cancer will affect every one of us at some point in our lives.  So when you see the pink T’s at school or the pink uniforms at tonight’s games—both the boys and girls will be wearing them—take a moment to recognize that sometimes the only thing that matters in this world is one’s health.  While I’d love to beat the Scots tonight, I’d much rather have everyone kick cancer’s butt.