I struggle with the title of this one because every time I say it to myself I can’t help but hear Vizzini’s voice from The Princess Bride (I know, he said ‘Inconceivable’, but it still rings true) – but I can’t help it.  At the same time, it is the perfect title for this week’s BLOG.

In case you did not hear, we had another blowout in High School sports – by we I mean the United States, not Southwick (although I will get to that).  Christian Heritage High over West Ridge (Utah) with a score of 108-3.

WHAT?!?  Are you KIDDING me?  My first reaction to this was exactly this – completely indefensible.

But hold your seats – I am about to take the unpopular route and try exactly that – to defend CHH in this lopsided rout.

To do so, you need to understand a little bit of my coaching background – I have been on both sides of a big win – not 100+ points, but 40 either way and I am here to tell you, it is not fun for either team; at least it was not in my case.

When I have been on the losing side of these games, I remind my team that we need to focus less on the score and more on what we can control in front of us – set some short-term goals such as winning a quarter, controlling the boards, stopping a certain player.  This helps a little with keeping focus on finishing the game.  One thing is for sure, my teams never quit regardless of the score.

When I have been on the winning side, I remind our team that sometimes this happens and that we need to work on other things, such as passing, running plays, etc.  I had a game last year where our team was up 20-0 at half-time, this was with no press and no fast breaks.  We had to tell our team to focus on getting non-traditional scorers better looks and to eliminate shooting from our scorers.  End result, 29-2.  While our score pales in comparison to what CHH did, we easily could have tripled (or more) our offensive output.  But to what end?

In my suburban league, we have a team that beat another team 56-0.  I hope they feel good about that, because we could have done the same to that team but chose a higher road – and while we won 41 – 8, we did some things to make sure that the game was not a complete blow out and it was definitely noticed and appreciated by the opposing coach.

With a shot clock we cannot simply hold the ball and I’ll never tell a team to not play defense, although we may augment it (for this game in particular last week we put our team in the paint for the entire second half, for example).  We are not here to teach bad habits, we are here to teach basketball and life skills.

Win with dignity, lose with class.

Some examples of not winning with dignity that I have seen this season:

  • My team down by 30, the other team is still pressing into the 4th quarter.
  • My team down by 25 in the 4th quarter, other team shooting 3s to run up the score
  • My team down by 20+ in the final minutes, the other team passing the ball around the perimeter, laughing – then laughing at us during the post-game hand shake

It is during these moments that you KNOW what kind of team you have.  My team wanted to start a brawl in each, but that conversation was held very quietly on our bench and I think that was a knee-jerk, emotional (and understandable) reaction.  By the time these games ended, our team walked to the other team with sportsmanship, as we do in every game – win or lose.  I love the fight in my teams and this starts with what is acceptable on the court – everyone buys in.

From what I can glean from the articles I have read on the game in Utah, here are some facts:

  • CHH never pressed
  • CHH averaged about the same score every quarter (28, 28, 28, 24)
  • CHH was limited in its number of available players, reducing the ability to rest or bench any players

One comment that I truly appreciated from the CHH coach was that he continued to run his offense instead of employing stall tactics and I agree with this, to a limited degree.  My limitations would agree to eliminate fast breaks, 3 point shots and to run the shot clock to about 10-12 seconds before looking to score.

Given all of these points, I can really start to build a defense for this game.  I don’t like it, but I can see how it can happen.

I do hope that both teams learned enough to make it a better competition when they play again later this season.