The leaves are falling, there’s frost on my car window in the morning, political ads are ruining commercial breaks, baseball is over, and the Christmas spirit is in the air. This can all only mean one thing: it’s basketball season. Everyone has their favorites, but for me, it’s basketball. You can find sports on television every night, you can gamble every night, and Twitter memes run rampant. I used to be excited because I was playing, but now I get excited because it’s time to get my coach on.
Now you may recall the Cinderella story of my middle school rec league team last season. We made a solid run and lost a heartbreaker in the championship. Like any other successful mid-major coach, I took my success and ran on to bigger and better things. I’m talking high school basketball. Big moves right? I had helped out with the team last year, but this year I’m dropping my 8th graders to fully devote myself to winning a state championship.
There’s a huge difference between coaching little kids and actual young men. Instead of teaching how to make a solid chest pass, I’m orchestrating drills and creating offenses. Instead of a bunch of 13-year-olds who are playing because their dad forced them to, I’ve got a bunch of guys that actually love playing basketball. What I am quickly realizing is that while I approached my middle school team with enthusiasm, my attitude with the high schoolers is doomed for apathy.
We made a good run into the playoffs last year, but only return three guys. I lost four seniors and three of my starting five. We went out and recruited three brothers from a rival school, two younger brothers of a former state MVP, and another kid who’s supposed to be really good. I mean, I guess that all sounds promising, minus the gaping issue of chemistry.
The first day of tryouts rolled around, and I began to evaluate the talent. Wow, that one kid can shoot, but he’s no Steph Curry. He’s more of a Ali Farokhmanesh. Remember that guy? We’ve got another kid who’s definitely a baller, but he wore all-white New Balances to tryouts. Who the hell plays basketball in New Balances? Is this kid the next Matt Bonner? I’d had enough with the lack of shoe game so I walked over to the other side of the court. I saw two twins not doing too badly at all. They have potential. They’re only in 9th grade. Wait, are those their ankles? Are they not wearing socks? What kind of monster plays basketball with no socks? A savage? A psycho? What they lack in blister IQ I hope they make up for in basketball IQ because I need some crazies out there running the full-court press. Now to check out this kid who’s supposed to be the star.
He’s going in for the layup. He let’s the ball go. It hits the bottom of the backboard and comes down and hits him in the head. Oh, no. Oh, please no. Okay, now he’s about to shoot. I think? What kind of form is that?
Okay, cool. This kid shoots like Deandre Jordan. Great.
Eventually, we started scrimmaging and that’s when apathy finally filled my veins. I found myself mumbling to the other coaches. This is what most coaches would be saying during evaluations:
Wow he’s really explosive.
He’s a big boy, I’m thinking twelve rebounds a game.
That’s the kind of passing we need right there.
This is what was actually slipping out of my mouth:
Please tell me he didn’t actually think that was a good idea.
You know, if one out of twenty of his shots go in, I’ll be happy.
What in the actual fuck was that?
Twenty bucks says we don’t make the playoffs.
Do I really think we’re doomed? No, not really. Could we actually be a decent team? Oh, for sure. Do I really care as much as I should? Nah. I’m going to give it a try, though. We have a scrimmage in less than a week and then I’ll really know how bad it’s going to be. Are we going to lose all of our games? Are we going to make a crazy run to state? Am I going to get ejected again this year? I guess we will find out..