Saturday, April 19, 2003
The game was played in wet and somewhat muddy conditions. Everyone had their warrior look going pretty good by the end.
GAME #13 – (#2) CSU 7 – (#6) CU 5
Our record is now 11-2 –
We won a very big game today, beating CU in Boulder. We got off to a very solid start, going up 4-0 in the first quarter, and as it turned out we needed that good start very much. After we went 4-0, they called timeout and pulled themselves together. They began the process of coming after us, which I preferred a lot over the way we languished three goals down for the entire game until the final minutes the first time we played them, a game we won in overtime at the Fort. That was way back in February, many snowstorms ago.
So, they started their comeback late in the first quarter. I don’t think we scored in the second at all, as their defense stiffened and we started making turnovers, and I don’t mean the sweet apple kind. Even so, we remained up by a couple at half, maybe 4-2 or 5-3. Our defense was glorious in a team way all day long. Our offense was stagnant at times. The truth is that offensive breakdowns led to things that went the other way in a hurry. In other words, at least two of C.U.’s first three goals were the Buffs making us pay for our own offensive mistakes. That is what I ranted about at halftime. More on that later I am sure.
I have been working on my half-time rant and rage thing, and it’s coming along nicely.
The second half was basically a dogfight. They eventually pulled to a tie at 5-5, but that lasted only a few minutes, and then we put up the last two numbers on the board for the 7-5 final. I was pleased with the way we responded after C.U. tied the game. We showed great resolve. The Buffs had some good momentum at that point. The first of our two last goals may or may not have been officially an extra man goal, but the extra man set it up. We put in another and then frustrated them by controlling the ball pretty well for the last few minutes of the game.
In a way the game today was a bit of a “Battle of the RMILL Goalies”. Both our Alex Smith and their Chris Bluse were exchanging stellar, or even spectacular saves. Both are fun to watch when they come out of the goal and play the game with everyone else. Alex actually scared me a few times today when he became defender and not goalie, leaving his lair trying to make a big play. In these kinds of low scoring games each goal means so much. Wow. At the same time it is great watching him (Alex) mature as a player and make his own choices sometimes (as I have heart failure on the sidelines).
I AM AT LEAST THREE OF THE 7 DWARFS (OR IS IT DWARVES?)
So, here we are. It’s a huge win, in a most intense game, and in perhaps our most intense rivalry, although we fortunately have more than just one of those. We earn the #1 seed for the RMILL playoffs, something we want very much. So Coach Boy should be feeling good, right? All I think about on the drive home is how many things we need to do better. The ones on the team that I track down and talk to after the game are the ones that I want to focus on what mistakes they had made that they needed to work on eliminating, or what part of their game needs to improve so that we can improve. I don’t think I initially say “Great game” to anyone, except the guys on the other team when we shake hands with them after the game. Actually, when Alex came over after the final horn I did start applauding. Our defense played so hard and so much like a “family” today, and he is indeed our anchor.
My problem is that I am standing on the sidelines during the third quarter of the actual game, and I am racking my brain trying to figure out how to coach this group to get more goals, and I’m thinking that I must do more to get us to that next level. There are things that break down for us offensively that cause us to put way too much pressure on our defense to “make another stop” after one of our many unforced errors. We are not in good enough team condition either. So much to do, so little time to get it done.
WHAT I SAID
Today was one of my most simple game plans to date. Actually, game plan is an overstatement. We already knew our match-ups or whatever. This is a backyard brawl. Including the fall season, we end up playing the Buffs a bunch of times every year, and I have a sneaky suspicion that we are not done with them yet for this year either.
All I did was put 6 things out for them to focus on before the game:
1) “Play with fire, passion and intensity”. Analysis: We did that, but it seemed to take a lot out of us, and I want it to energize us. We made way too many unforced errors, which can drain a team over the long haul.
2) “One play at a time”. Analysis: We lost team concentration at times, like lapses.
3) “One thing at a time”. Analysis: We did that early, but some of us were trying to do two things at a time at some really crucial moments.
4) “Be quick, but don’t hurry”. Pure John Woodenese. Analysis: We hurried things way too much today, and when that happens everything is just a little off, which leads at times to people taking it upon themselves to do too much individually. We didn’t flow that well generally in the game, and I give plenty of the credit to the opponent. CU, for us, is as tough as anyone we play.
5) “Good choices”. As in keep your mind clear and calm. Analysis: Believe it or not I think they made a lot of good choices. We didn’t make mistakes by forcing the ball inside that much, although still more than I want. We made too many (any is too many, but we were way over that) brain f@rt mistakes on simple things like ground balls and catching. These are things that can be controlled. To achieve you must do the simple things well all the time. We mostly did well in the area of reading and dealing with game situations. We looked tired at times, and you never think as well when you are tired. Everyone knows that.
6) “Dunks”. As in we want to dunk the ball, or get a one on none where the goalie is taken out of the equation. Analysis: Not hardly. We scraped and fought for almost every goal and every shot. The mud made it more difficult to be in sync, that is for sure. We got away from breaking down the defense, though, and we must do that on offense to be successful.
THERE’S A HOLE IN THE BUCKET, DEAR LIZA, DEAR LIZA
Then fix it!, Dear Henry, Dear Henry. For today, I am Cell Coach. Monday we go to work.
I have been exchanging good-natured trash e-mails this week with one of my rival USLIA coaches. In the first one he wrote, “F*** you, Yoda”. This makes clear which schools he does NOT coach at. The phrase kept coming back into my head as the week went on, and I wondered why. I finally figured it out. It’s because that is just about the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me.