Sunday, 30 January 2011

Hoop Dreams Part 2: South East U19 Women's Basketball Tournament 2010

Foreword by Coach Cj Swaby

Shortly before Christmas 2010 I posted apiece about my nephew’s great achievement in being selected to Coach his College Basketball team in a National tournament. A victim of his own success, my nephew Jak Ryan-Hall was asked to Coach the Women’s team as well, little did he realise the daunting challenge that lay ahead, which he was to meet head on with an indomitable spirit and clarity of focus that makes me, well, proud! Here’s his story.

Hoop Dreams Part 2: South East U19 Women’s Basketball Tournament

By Coach Jak Ryan-Hall

Recently I coached a Men’s Under 19 Basketball team at a SE Tournament. Surprisingly, I led this team to a fairly successful Tournament and once again faced a new daunting challenge. I had to transform a Women’s Netball team into a strong Basketball Team (Oh did I mention we only had 2 hours practice!) Most of the team had never played basketball before and barely knew the rules. Before I knew it the Women’s Under 19’s Sout h East National Basketbal Tournament was upon us. The team weren’t very confident in their ability. That said, I was happy with what we were able to accomplish over a short period of time. I also had a feeling it would be a tournament where most of the teams were Netball players in Basketball Uniforms. I could not have been more wrong.

Reality Check

Our first Game was swiftly upon us. We had practiced the Zone defence very briefly so I decided against it and stuck with a man to man defence. On offence I stressed the importance of second chance opportunity’s as we weren’t a very good shooting team. From the tip we were out of our depth. It was clear that this team had been playing basketball for numerous years. They were driving to the hoop, drawing fouls and hitting the three point shot. Defensively they were also excellent. They didn’t set a foot wrong. The games were shortened to ten minutes which probably benefitted us. For the first eight minutes they mercilessly toyed with us. However in the last two minutes our team Worthing College Girls, started to fight back galliantly. They moved the ball around and made a few mid range shots. They also got the ball into our Center who made a few easy buckets. Unfortunately it was too little too late, as we fell 14-6, but the team gave me something to work with, something we could build on. However before we had time for a team talk we were told we were playing another game immediately.

Stopping the Bleeding

The situation was getting hectic. The second team we played were, if it was possible, better than the first. This team had two brilliant shooters who were knocking down numerous three point shots effortlessly. I called an early time out. Our problem? the opposition was doing whatever they liked! I encouraged the team to be more aggressive on the offensive and the defensive end. They came out and were more physical which limited their scoring opportunities. Then we began to score. Our Center was dominating the boards offensively and defensively. Our defence was getting better as time went on. Our shooting was poor. Our Field Goal percentage was very low. However we only trailed by six with 1.30 left. I called my final timeout and set a play up for our Center. We got the ball to her and she muscled her way to the basket and got the layup. Unfortunately we were slow on defence and they got a fast break which led to a basket and the foul. This put us down by nine points which sealed the victory for them, and possibly our fate.

The Payback

With two losses and battered ego’s we had a team talk. The Girls were disappointed but were very enthusiastic about the next game and were keen to improve. The girls and I agreed that our current defence wasn’t effective and we resorted to the zone. This was nerve racking because I didn’t think the team were ready , having only practiced it once. However they surprised me. They played the zone defence exceptionally well and stopped penetration. The opposition were a team called Peverel. They had numerous Point Guards and could shoot a good mid-range shot. The whole game they struggled to find good looks at the basket and we were firing on all cylinders. Our Point Guard was distributing the ball well and our Center dominated the boards once again. We pulled away comfortably and they only had a few baskets to show for their efforts. With two losses and one win, we needed a victory to guarantee us a place in the quarter finals.

Final Stand

We were set for a tight finish. We needed a win to put us in second which would secure us qualification. We were playing a team called Thornton College who were top of the group. Regardless, the team were psyched up for the challenge. We came out aggressive and had an immediate effect on the defensive end. We forced them into tough, contested shots and converted a few early transition baskets on the back of steals. Thornton came back at us hard. Our defence was caught napping as we left a shooter open in the corner that nailed the jump shot perfectly. We struggled to answer at the other end, and were brutally punished again, this time a shot just inside the three point line. I immediately called a timeout before things got out of hand. We were in familiar territory. We had dug ourselves a hole and faced a daunting task of climbing out of it. I made a few substitutions to shake up our offence with more shooters and told the girls to run hard and play as a team. Coming out of the timeout Thornton College played some brilliant defence which led to numerous steals that hurt our chances of a comeback. The team still fought until the death and ran their hearts out. This defeat meant we were out of the Tournament early. Home time.

Coach Jak Ryan-Hall Sends Word : The Aftermath

Coaching a team with limited knowledge and experience in a sport is tough. Sometimes I felt myself coaching too strong or pushing the team too hard. But I feel that as a coach you need to adapt to different situations to suit the audience. I hope that I did this well. Although we had a poor tournament I was very proud of the team and how they approached the game of basketball. They were enthusiastic; they worked hard and were a pleasure to coach. I will never say that winning is not important. But what these young ladies taught me is that enjoying your sport is the most important thing.

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