Head Strong

My favourite point in any game is what I call the boiling point. It’s that point in the game where it’s “do or do not, there is no try.” as Yoda of Star Wars fan would famously say. If you are losing the game, it’s the time to rise up against your foes and vanquish them. If you are winning, then it’s time to close them out and put the game on ice. It’s the peak moment of tension felt by all players and coaches a like. I love these moments in the game. 

Should I take the time out? How much time have we got left and how much are we up/down by? Should we be fouling at this point? You can probably throw an endless number of scenarios, questions and possibilities to go a long with those too. Here is the situation you need to know: It’s a back and forth game while we visited NSCC-Truro in the 4th quarter with about 8 minutes left. Our starting and back up point guards were off their games on this night and struggling to execute anything on the offensive end. Our shooting guard (the 2 man) was playing well but ball handling was not his strongest point. His decision-making was questionable at times and I was not comfortable have the ball in his hands at this point for obvious reasons. This left me to lean on a guy who did just about anything I asked of him in Jason Stultz.

Jason was a fun player to watch play because his shot was almost perfect. He’s one of the smartest players I’ve worked with. He could attack the hoop, distribute the ball well but most importantly, I knew Jason wasn’t going to make any errors during the boiling point. He rarely turned the ball over and if he did, you better believe he was going to do whatever he had too to get it back. We now had to lean on Jason to play the 40-minute game, guard the opposing team’s best scorer, be our best scorer and rebounder and run and execute the offense. Sure these are things players are asked of regularly but we never had too. Stultz was every bit as frustrated with his teammates as I was for their lack luster performance. A lot like myself, he also has a temper and his thoughts can be read by anyone who merely glanced at him.  I take a time out to regroup and piece together a lineup that worked best under the circumstances. 

With 3 minutes left, we were ahead by 4 but Truro was starting to figure out the zone and picked up a notch on the defensive end. I am furious and yelling quite animatedly in this time out and it rubs Stultz the wrong way. It was at this moment that I felt as though I had finally pushed one player too far and I was about to get a head butt for it. I braced myself but didn’t bat an eyelash. As he stared me down he yelled “WHAT DO YOU WANT ME TO DO?” I was stunned but yelled my honest answer right back. I was sweating and was already feeling about where I’d try to take the head shot. Our eyes stayed locked and Stultz stared harder at me somehow. I waited for his much younger, much larger, and much stronger body to pounce. His eyes grew big and he yelled “WELL!! THAT SOUNDS JUST FINE TO ME!” I breathed a sigh of relief. I avoided a fight with my own player and I looked brilliant. Stultz got fired up we won going away.

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