At the end of tonight’s game, you couldn’t help but trying to avoid looking at the scoreboard that said 64-44. Fair view played a great game and had an inspiring comeback from a 9 points deficit at halftime that turned into a huge victory. But what about our boys? As a fan of the game and of the Wolverines, I couldn’t help but cringe as well as reluctantly applaud at Frank Ryder’s ally-oop. Chaparral just didn’t shoot well and missed a lot of free throws.
People then quickly asked me if this team was going to struggle this year. But I shake my head at that question. One game does not define a team. One game does not show the future of our season. This is a new team, with four months left to improve. This is a team that lost an All-Star lineup last year and switched coaches over the off-season. With a young team, new players, and a new coach, its hard not to have a rocky start to the season. These things take time to get into a rhythm. All this game looks like is an opportunity to learn from. They’re learning their strengths and weaknesses, and with that they only get better. But with that being said this could be a team just as good or even better than the one we witnessed the previous season.
As Vic Lombardi told me,”stats are for losers,” so, let’s take a quick look away from the stat sheet, Chaparral played a very good game. They may have lost by an unfortunate amount but they hustled their butts off. Not only did they hustle but they played with a type of fire and passion you never see these days. The biggest surprise was how well they guarded Frank Ryder. The dude was a giant and he played like one, but for 20 minutes of that game he wasn’t even a factor. The biggest guy on Chap is Ian Waltz who stands at a towering 6’7″. They had three guys taller than him on Fair View! Yet for the first half, Chap controlled the paint. Chap! They shut down one of the biggest guys I’ve ever seen. They held him to 10 points and single digit rebounds. A guy that size should be getting every rebound possibly. But he didn’t. He had very few open looks and was boxed out very well. I mean have you ever guarded someone that’s 6’10”? Well it’s pretty damn hard! Well I’m assuming. But you don’t see that on a stat sheet but it should be highly regarded.
The talent is there, Coach Truesdale is doing a fabulous job, but it comes with time. And it’s still early. I know this team can make it. With more time to figure themselves out, there’s no doubt they’ll be above .500 by the middle of January. This team looked strong tonight. Don’t look at the scoreboard. Look at how they played. They played with heart. They played with some swagger. Every loose ball it seemed like they jumped right on top of it. Every steal became a fast break. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if they tired themselves out because they ran a ton! More than I ever did in my cross-country days it seemed. Also they’re defense shut down the tallest dude I’ve ever seen. Ultimately what really matters is the last game of the season. And with the passion and effort this team played with tonight, that last game in the season will likely be in the Denver Coliseum. *Knocks on wood*