The clock ticked down, though not nearly fast enough. We had played a good game this Wednesday afternoon—not our best, but most certainly not our worst. Our girls had fought back after a rocky beginning and had shown improvement in a number of areas. Our turnovers had gone down, our free throw percentage had gone up, and our girls had started to show flashes of understanding our team concept. Still, as the buzzer sounded, I glanced up at the scoreboard and cringed. Final Score: 9-65. Back to the drawing board.
Though I was upset about the game, my Five Rules for Understanding Girls JV Basketball at a Boarding School came in handy and helped me digest our defeat. Here they are:
Rule #1: International players are ALWAYS the determining factor.
Though we get crushed, it isn’t altogether unexpected. Our record falls to 1-9, with the one win coming against a middle school comprised of international girls. Though our team is also almost entirely comprised of international girls, age and maturity always play a role on the basketball court.
For most of these international girls, our basketball court is the first they have ever seen, and our basketballs are the first they have ever shot. Our point guard, Anh "Susie" Nguyen, has developed into a pretty good player over her two years at the school, though those two years comprise the entirety of her basketball experience. It is also important to note that Anh "Susie" Nguyen is the third most experienced girl on our roster. Not a recipe for success.
Rule #2: The most obnoxious coaches are almost always men.
I’m not quite sure why this is the case. The cut-throat coaches at the varsity level almost always seem to be women, but this is just not the case at the JV level. The petty side of me thinks that these coaches run up the score on their often outmatched opponents as a way of *ahem* making up for something, but I have no way of proving it.
The coach we see today is a prototypical girls JV coach: He clearly graduated in the last five years from a small, prestigious New England college. His demeanor is that of someone who played some (but not a lot) of high school basketball but still likes to play in faculty pickup games whenever they occur. He watches college basketball but refuses to watch women’s college basketball. You know, that guy.
Rule #3: A big victory is just an opportunity to work on your “systems.”
I wasn’t kidding when I wrote down the score of our game. We scored 9, and they scored 65. That is a difference of 56 points. Now, 56-point losses don’t happen by accident. They require a lot of careful coaching. Specifically, the winning coach has to make a point of stepping on our small, international throats.
This particular opposing coach decided to not just press us well into the second half, but then preemptively mention during the handshake line that he “just wanted to work on [his] press.” While the majority of our players don’t actually know what a press is, I do. Their press sucked, so maybe they actually needed the work. Luckily for them, our press break sucked more.
Rule #4: The opposing players will not get better unless their coach yells. A lot.
Remembering that our opposing coach watches a lot of college basketball, it does not surprise me that he has chosen to emulate some of the coaches he sees on television. He is also old enough to have seen a lot of the Bobby Knight documentaries, but not old enough to understand how hated Knight was by a large percentage of college basketball fans. If he throws a chair, maybe his players will push them over the 70 point mark. Quitters.
Rule #5: The best referees understand the situation.
Luckily for all of us, we had my favorite refs for the game. It doesn’t take long in a game like this for the refs to get a sense for how the game is going to go. In reality, all the refs have to do is watch our girls dribble (did I mention that we only scored 9 points all game?).
The best part was listening to our ref make fun of the opposing coach while running past our bench after another of our turnovers. My favorite quote: “I don’t know why this guy’s doing so much yelling. As long as they keep pressing, I’m going to keep calling fouls on them.” Apparently, douchiness can be recognized by all.
Needless to say, the game would have been completely different if this ref had decided to do something crazy like call fouls on us. In reality, he first would have had to explain the concept of the 3-second violation to our girls. That simply would have taken too long.
So, there you have it. We managed to win one more game all season. Luckily, our athletic director had thought to schedule that same international middle school twice in one season. Ironically, that international middle school finished with 3 wins. Sucks to be us.
I feel strongly that the five rules I have laid out for you will help you manage your emotions should you ever find yourself coaching a JV girls basketball team at a boarding school. You might not think that will happen, but keep in mind that I didn’t think it would happen, either.