It’s 12:28, officially Tuesday morning, February 7. Heading through Omaha as I write this.
Women took a loss to Hastings while the Dordt men won a hard fought 91-81 decision on the road. Don’t let the ten point margin fool you. This one, much like the Morningside decision a couple weeks ago was in doubt until the Defenders made some stops and stuck some shots in.
First the women’s game. The Defenders battled all night against compounding odds. Kayla Gesink didn’t play and was a scratch after warm ups showed she wasn’t quite ready to go…hoping for Wednesday night at Dakota Wesleyan. Jaimie Kok, who much of the offense runs through, was on the bench for much of the first half with three fouls. And yet, the Defenders were tied in the second half with the GPAC power. And while Hastings doesn’t strike the fear in teams that they may have in past years, they’re still awfully good and they were able to exploit some match ups.
Brianna Spronk was tough with 19 points and Kok got 13 second half points. Kara Van Dyke battled for double digits as well.
Bottom line the women have three games remaining and must get the win on Wednesday to realistically have a shot at one of the top-eight spots in the conference standings which means a playoff spot in the GPAC Tournament. As coach Stiemsma said on the post-game show: it’s a playoff game.
The men found a way to win. It wasn’t easy.
300 miles from home. My estimate had the Defender fans numbering in the half dozen range. That doesn’t count our bus driver, myself and the teams.
You’ve got to battle.
For a while Trevor Wolterstorff carried the Defenders in the first half. Chris Sievers took his turn in the first half as well.
Then in the second half it was Cliff Warner and Jordan Vogel hitting clutch shots.
The unsung hero may be Shawn Keizer who came off the bench to take two shots. But they both went in. They were both three’s. The second was the shot that gave the Defenders a little breathing room.
Austin Katje dished five assists. Kyle Lindbergh grabbed nine rebounds. Tyler Wolterstorff played defense and hit free throws. TJ Malone gave eight minutes in the first half.
It was a team effort.
And that’s what you need when you’re 300 miles from home and no one in the building wants you to win. You circle the wagons and resolve to win.
And you try to do it again on Wednesday at the Corn Palace.
It’s never easy.
Why do coaches coach? The thought has been gnawing in the back of my mind for a while now.
Is it the glory?
Not at this level it’s not.
Is it the pay?
Nope, don’t think so.
Is it the hours?
Don’t think so. Countless missed dinners, birthdays, games, insert something important here.
So why do it?
Not sure. I’ve been working closely with coaches for nearly two decades and I have my theories.
The good ones have a desire to help players and teams reach potential. They look at the group of individuals that’s in the locker room and they see what they can do, not necessarily what the can’t do; at least they don’t dwell on it. They enjoy the challenge.
They like going into a gym or onto a field with their players and working to get better when no one is watching.
They believe in doing things the “right” way. The good ones are wired to enjoy hard work.
They enjoy going 300 miles to see if they and their team can win on the road.
Frank Turner and Photosynthesis on the headphones as we head north on I-29.