Had a lot of time to think on the way home on Saturday night. There’s only so much work I can do in a bus seat and this body wasn’t made for sleeping on the road (unless I want to be visiting a chiropractor for three weeks), so, the brain keeps churning.
It was a tale of two dramatically different outcomes on Saturday and I had and have had the opportunity to watch how coaches respond to the highs and lows of the season.
For Coach Stiemsma and the Lady Defenders it was the second disappointing loss of the week. A one point loss to Mount Marty and a two point loss to Hastings sum up the week. You can draw positives but at the end of the day, in college athletics, the tangible way to measure success for coaches is the L or the W.
Each game went down to the final possession.
You can’t help but think, “one possession in each game goes another way and we’re on top of the world.”
You see, you win those games and you position yourself for a potential shot at fourth or fifth place in our conference, and let’s face it, fourth in the GPAC gets you in the national tournament and fifth gives you a shot. Sixth place….that’s a long shot that has never happened up to this point.
As we stopped for a break on the road to clear the windshield I said to assistant coach Terry Beimers, “you’re a man of few words.” He went on to shed a little light on his and coach Stiemsma’s mood. It was something like this. “You invest so much time in the two games this week to come away empty.”
Coaches spend time each week practice planning to prepare for the opponents they are going to face and what they want to accomplish in terms of a game plan for each of those games. You see, if you don’t practice it, you can’t expect your players to perform it in a game under pressure situations. You watch tape. You scout tendencies. You try to put players in positions where they can be successful. All while another team is doing the same thing—you’re not doing these things in a vacuum. Oh, and you need to keep calling recruits, because without incoming talent, the program can wither away.
All that being said there was/is disappointment….and now you’ve got to bounce back against the best team in the conference, at least no one else has beaten Northwestern yet this season in conference play.
There is no pause button.
There is no tabling the agenda till the next meeting.
There is no postponing the test until you feel better prepared.
And you’re going to put yourself out in the public for lots of people to judge your performance.
But, I do know this, the coaches and players will work as hard as they can, with the time available this week, to put a game plan in place to compete on the road at Orange City. And after that game is done, they’ll do the same in preparing for Briar Cliff.
And then Nebraska Wesleyan….
And then the next opponent….
Because I believe these coaches and players have character.
It has never been easy.
And it never will be.
Going old school today with some Johnny Cash and Cut You Down.