Posted by Orrin Woodward on August 23, 2013
This is the third segment of a four-part series on the summertime basketball wars between the Michigan LIFE Leadership PC team and the Band of Brothers (BoB). To start with the first segment, click here.
One great thing about winners is they never get comfortable with losing. In fact, show me anyone who is comfortable losing, and I will show you someone who loses consistently. The PC team was never comfortable losing. Accordingly, Bill worked tirelessly on his step-through move to counter Kirk’s harassing defense. Additionally, I asked Holger to come over Wednesday morning to practice offensive rebounding and shooting while keeping his hands up, thus reducing turnovers and increasing points. Above all, however, was our decision to return to a man-to-man defense and scrap the zone.
I assigned myself the daunting task of guarding Morgan in the man defense. Although I had a slight size advantage, he had about every other advantage in the game, including playing the game regularly, being a decade younger, and being on a massive hot streak from the previous game. Nonetheless, bolstered with some ibuprofen, I believed I could slow his drives, challenge his shots, and hopefully break his rhythm. It all sounded good on paper, but only game day would reveal the quality of the PDCA.
Although my assignment promised to be challenging, Bill’s may have been even tougher. Somehow Bill, despite being five inches shorter than Kirk, had to shut down his inside/outside game. Remember, it was Kirk’s deadly accurate shot that had toasted us in the contest before. If a defender gives Kirk space, he shoots a ridiculously high percentage. Therefore, Bill agreed to stay in Kirk’s face, chasing him all over the court, refusing to give him any space for his shot. Meanwhile, we coached Holger to let Aron shoot his jump shot but challenge anything inside. Given our poor performance in the previous games, this PDCA had to work, or this series would be over!
Fortunately, day five confirmed our PDCA was successful. We shut down Steve’s drives and Kirk’s outside game. Although Aron hit a couple of wing shots, it wasn’t enough to keep them in the game. Bill had his best day of the series, scoring at will inside and out. Holger also had his best day, rebounding better than ever and scoring on many offensive rebounds. Finally, my long-range jumper kept the defense spread out, allowing Bill the spacing for his drives. The PC team won the first game 11–5 and the second one 11–2. The momentum had turned with our best performance to date, and we looked forward to the next day with a three-day to two lead in the series. Everyone expected Tuesday to be the most intense competition yet, as the BoB faced elimination and the PC team focused on ending the series. We knew we had better finish the series before the younger legs wore us down.
All weekend long, Holger, Bill, and I contemplated what the BoB would do to slow our aggressive defense and inside/outside juggernaut from the day before. Not surprisingly, when day six started, the answer from the BoB was clear. First, they came an hour early to practice at the Columbiaville elementary school. They worked on various maneuvers to check our game plan, even going as far as setting plays called out by number! The level of competition this day lived up to its advanced billing, with neither team giving an inch. In fact, I remember at one point thinking this was exactly what Wooden had described in his book on competitive greatness. It is simply awesome to experience a game that pushes a person to his competitive limit with other winners doing the same thing!
Nevertheless, only one team could win the series, and the BoB felt it should be them. They blew our doors off in game one. No, they didn’t just win; they annihilated us by a score of 11–2! Later, I learned one of their PDCAs was a realization that the team that had won the first game eventually won the day’s contest; therefore, they poured everything into game one for the victory. The BoB played with reckless abandon, letting no shot go unchallenged and owning every loose ball. How could anyone keep up a pace like this? The PC team didn’t panic after the blistering defeat but did make some adjustments. Holger promised to step up his rebounding, while Bill committed to take the ball to the rim and pass it back to me if he was double-teamed. Despite our team being exhausted from the physical pounding in game one, I believe the BoB team members were even more spent, as it is practically impossible to play that hard for any length of time. They had truly left it all on the court in game one. Our offense finally started to click, and we came back to return the favor on the exhausted BoB by trouncing them 11–2 in the second game.
The whole series pivoted upon the final game. Would the PC team pull it off, or would the BoB send the series to day seven? To be continued tomorrow.