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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Weekend in Wisconsin

In the Kohl Center. 
We left for Wisconsin on Saturday morning. There four vans, driven by myself, Coach Allison, the Liebers, and the Bryants. After some bad gps directions in Dubuque, we stopped at Culver's in Platteville. This was a pleasant surprise for the girls as they believe I own stock in McDonald's.

We got to Madison so we had time to go to State Street before registration. Steve Bryant used the time to make sure to hit his favorite, State Street Brat House for a brat before the game. Coach Allison and I took in the Union patty and enjoyed the view of the lake.

We had a challenging but good first day at Wisconsin Camp. We lost to Palatine Fremd by 1 but had ball with chance to win. We beat Grayslake by 20, then lost to Adams-Friendship by 7. It was actually surprising we were as close in our losses as we were. We did not shoot well in either game. In the last game we missed 12 three pointers in a row.

All of the teams did different things vs our pressure, so it was great learning experience. If we were a half court man to man team, we would want to set different half court sets. With our style it is valuable to face a variety of press attacks. With our veteran players they understand pretty well if we use key words about the other team's press break. For our newbies this is most valuable experience.

Fremd and Friendship were great man to man teams so we both strengths and weaknesses exposed.

We refueled Saturday night with pizza at Rocky Rococo's- good stuff.

Day 2- started out with a nice win over New Trier. We were up by as many as 20 points. Then we struggled vs. Maine South. We started out down 10-0. They were extremely aggressive and physical defensively- combined with a 6-4 center going to University of Illinois. We were down by as many as 20 but fought back to 10 again with 10 minutes to go but that was it.

We finished the weekend by playing in the Kohl Center vs. New Berlin West. In an ironic twist, New Berlin was where my father started teaching and coaching in the 1920's. In the second half we opened up a close game and went on to win the game by 7-8 points.

It was the most valuable thing we have done so far this summer. We had an opportunity to play against three teams who have consistently been rated in 4A in Illinois and another team which is state rated in Wisconsin. 25 years ago we started going to Maine West in the summer for a simple reason- the suburban players play more basketball in the spring and summer than downstate teams do. We found they played a different style- more aggressive, more physical, and each team tends to have more ball handlers. These teams expose our weakness and also make us find our strengths.

Usually in the summer, varsity teams are average or bad offensively in June. As a coach, you tend to offensively run the things that worked last year. They don't necessarily work with the "new team." The value is then by playing tough mm teams you are forced to find your identity as a basketball team. Our experience this weekend is helping us in the process of finding our identity. The goal would be by July to have our things offensively we are comfortable and confident with.

It is fun to play places where you can win and feel good about yourselves. But playing against very good teams helps build a team toughness. I was very impressed with our players. There was never a point in the weekend where I felt they allowed themselves to feel pity or to give up. The emphasis as we started the weekend was to always "go onto the next play." I thought our players were excellent doing that. They kept working and kept learning.

A special thanks to our senior players. Before we left, I asked all the players to get out of their "social comfort zones"- to interact with more and different players than they normally did. Our seniors were great in helping build team chemistry.

On a side note, for me it was a nice weekend. I got my cheese curds and a burger at Nitty Gritty. I got to asked Bo Ryan if Coach Purlee had screwed things up last week. Bo replied, "No, Rob is a good guy."

Then Coach Allison and I got an opportunity to go up into the women's coach's offices and had good conversation with the Badger coaches.

Special thanks to the Liebers and the Bryants for driving and supporting the girls. Thanks!!

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