October 18, 2010

"Never be afraid to do something new. Remember, amateurs built the ark; professionals built the titanic." -Unknown

We had another conference game on Saturday against the team based out of Basel. We again, unfortunately lost, but this time the score was 76-74. So far our losses have been to the top teams in the league, and we are right there competing hard against all of them (except for maybe the first place team who’s been blowing everyone out of the water by 30 points or more). Personally, I think our ability to play with these teams is pretty impressive, mostly because we are coming together as a new team, with girls who played in Switzerland’s second league last year, and with a new American. I know I’ve been saying this a lot, but I really see improvements every game. When we start replaying opponents in the second round of conference play, it is going to be a different story. This game there was a stretch where we had a few really good back-to-back defensive possessions by causing shot clock violations or putting so much pressure on the ball that the other team turned it over. In the fourth quarter we rallied back from a 16 point deficit with everyone contributing – our point guard hit a three, our two-guard drove to the basket, our three-guard hit a three AND drove to the basket, our four-player sunk free throws, and I made layups. It was a collective effort with everyone contributing, which is always my favorite way to play.

The last thirty seconds of the game were incredibly intense. Since I tend to forget the exact details when I play, you can take this with a grain of salt, but if I remember correctly our point guard sank two free-throws to make it a two point game. The other team brought the ball up the court with everyone on our team pressuring their players. The way we’d adjusted our defense made it incredibly difficult for the other team to go ahead with their usual plan of attack and we forced them to throw up a shot from very far away from the basket as the shot clock was winding down. Our team got the rebound and I took off down to the other end of the court. The clock counted down: 4...our two guard was dribbling the ball through two of their players, 3…she passed it to our four player, 2…our four player tried to get past her girl, 1….our four player shot the ball from a few feet outside the three point line, 0…the shot fell short.

A couple other differences I forgot to mention about the game here: the shot clock is only 24 seconds (maybe I did already mention this, but I thought I’d emphasize it again) and you cannot call a timeout during a possession whether you have the ball or not – you have to wait for a dead ball. Okay, so typically back home when I thought about the game I’d like to break it down into possessions. If the shot clock is 30 seconds and each half is 20 minutes, then each team should get 20 possessions if they use up the whole shot clock on each possession. If you only get 20 possessions a half and let’s say you convert on only half of those possessions, you would head into the locker room with anywhere between 20 to 43 points (depending on fouls, whether your team shoots 2’s or 3’s, etc.). Obviously the game isn’t played this way, and teams don’t use up 30 seconds each possession, but how simple is it to think of the game that way when the shot clock is 30 seconds and everything aligns just right? Math is not my strong suit. I can’t even make 24 seconds make sense in my head. All I can do is think, “we have the ball, I don’t know how many possessions we’ll get this half, but let’s make every one count.” That’s probably a better way to think of the game anyway, but sometimes I really miss breaking down those 30 seconds. Now for the timeout situation: back home if you have the ball with 4 seconds left and your team just crossed half-court you would (in most cases) call a timeout and set up some elaborate sideline play to get a good last-second shot off. Needless to say I was baffled when our two-guard crossed half-court and I glanced at our coach waiting for her to call a time-out only to find her jumping up and down while screaming, “Allez! Allez!” (“Go! Go!”). Seriously, this game is intense, and I love it.

Point Guard Hillary :)
There are a few cool things that I’m personally seeing change in my own game. First of all, I’ve been running the floor a LOT more and a LOT better. I really have to thank my agency for setting me up with a speed school before I left to come over here. Learning how to run the right way has changed the way I feel about running (to a certain extent at least) and has also made me incredibly more efficient on the basketball court. There was a possession this game where I took off running down the left lane, received a pass from my point guard a little over half court and drove the ball to the rim (where I think I did a Euro-step to fake out my defender (although maybe I just thought I did and in reality it looked more like a regular layup)) and finished without getting a charge called against me! So cool :P. On another possession, we had the ball out of bounds underneath the basket and I noticed my defender cheating and slipped out to the wing (I’m so sneaky). Our four-player hit me with a pass to nail a jump-shot (I’ve hit jump-shots before, but not so sneakily). These are things I’ve always wanted to try, but was just never in a situation to do in games before. It’s always exciting when you add a new element to your game, because you know you’re still getting better. After all, I AM only 23 ;).

1 comment:

  1. "when you're through improving, you're through." keep working hard champ! i love hearing about your progress on and off the court. love you!