1) Transition Defense; Sprint Back; Get Two Feet In The Paint
2) Keep Them Out Of The Paint Off The Dribble
Before every game, we write our “Keys To The Game” on the board for our players. One last set of reminders before we take the floor. Easy for us to say, right? These were two of the keys to the game vs. Ruskin and this is how you know when you’re playing a great program. To a man, you can tell each and every one of your players what they are going to do and how they are going to do it and that team can still go out and do exactly that. Coach Hughes’ team is so, so fast. Makes or misses; it doesn’t matter to them, they are trying to score in 7 seconds or less. You can’t blink vs. Ruskin. If you do, they will score a layup. Too many transition points, too many points in the paint, in the end, we just couldn’t stay in the track meet.
On our part, we didn’t intend to get into a high scoring track meet but an absolute credit to our team is how we played offensively. Particularly in the first half, we took care of the ball, we shot the ball well, we shared the ball well, our body language was good all night. I’ve talked about this before but it felt true on Friday night, this was the kind of performance that we don’t lose sleep over as coaches. We played well, we took some steps forward, we lost to a better team on the road but it was how we played, how we reacted, how we competed and how we treated one another as teammates and coaches, it was a still a productive night for us. Finished the night with a 0.99 points per possession which is our 2nd best performance vs. conference opponents (even better than our Platte County game) in that statistic. Just couldn’t get enough stops.
Leading the way tonight was Ryker Edwards who had 19 for us, just ahead of Cody Simoncic who had his career best, 17 points tonight. In warmups, I picked up on something that he was doing that I wanted to see him tweak and sure enough, I’m not sure he touched the rim all night on a jump shot, drilling three 3’s. He’s always been a good shooter and with his collection of skills under the rim, he becomes extremely difficult to guard. Good sign for us going forward. Rhett Foster had another strong 8 point and 7 rebound performance. Brad Schram had 6 points and 4 rebounds. He and Cody (2) combined for 3 charges tonight, those two will go down in the history books as leaders in the category when it is all said and done. Incredibly selfless players, always willing to give up their bodies for the team. Keltin Nitsche had 5 points and 5 assists–finishing with a positive assist/TO ratio. Nick Dakon punched in 4 with Caleb Donnell and Derek Boyd finishing off the night with 2 a piece.
Not to be overshadowed this evening, the JV crew put on a fantastic performance, culminating with a tip in, buzzer beater by Noah Vollenweider. Can’t speak highly enough about that team. They battled a hot-shooting Ruskin team all evening. As a JV crew, they are constantly hamstrung by Varsity decision (how many quarters some guys play) which means some guys are coming off the bench, fairly cold, and have to be ready to perform in the 3rd and 4th quarter and that group absolutely continues to do that and it’s such a cool thing to see. Noah actually subbed in with 8.7 seconds left and without missing a beat, there he was, ready to do his job and lift his team to a win. So proud of that group!
Really looking forward to next week for both groups! We travel to Excelsior Springs on Tuesday night to take on Coach Wright and the Tigers and Friday we are back at home for a rivalry game vs. Kearney! Hopefully we can keep the great offense coming and put on a show this week! That’s always the plan! GO WARRIORS!