This is a spontaneous follow up to my last post, “Losing Sucks.” Why a follow up? Because this past Saturday night we were very lucky to escape with a 4 point overtime win against Kecoughtan High School from Hampton, VA. Before I say anything, let me congratulate their players and staff for playing an excellent game. They played winning basketball, and in all honesty, they deserved to win the game. They should hold their heads high and be very proud of their effort.
Our performance, if you can call it that, bothered me so much I felt compelled to write this. If you haven’t already done so, I suggest you read “Losing Sucks” first for the proper foundation as I mentioned something in that post that is paramount to the point I want to make here:
“It is so important to recognize when you play well and lose. It is equally important to recognize when you play poorly and win. You need to learn from both.”
KHS needs to recognize they played very well even though they lost the game. I recommend they watch the film and take note of the many things they did so well. My guess is, if they do those things against every other team on their schedule… they will win most of their games and have a great chance at a state title. They took great shots and played tough defense for 32 minutes.
On the other hand, our players need to be humble enough and mature enough to admit they played poorly and still won. And they played really poorly. While I am thankful we got the W, I absolutely consider our performance a loss.
Why do I consider it a loss? Let’s review, from “Losing Sucks,” the three reasons you lose a game:
· You weren’t as talented as the other team.
· You didn’t execute or make plays.
· You played with a lack of effort.
The only reason we squeaked out a win was because we were more talented than they were. Bottom line, and I mean this with sincere respect to the KHS team, we had better players. However, Montrose alum Kevin Durant’s favorite quote is quite applicable here:
“Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.”
We almost found that out the hard way.
KHS should look back and accept they lost because we had better players (Point #1)… there is no shame in that. They did execute and they did make plays (Point #2). They did play with passion, heart, and effort (Point #3).
Our players, on the other hand, need to look back and admit the exact opposite. The only reason we won was because we had better players. We didn’t execute or make plays and we sure didn’t play with the passion and effort that is the epitome of the Montrose legacy.
Please notice I said “our players” as opposed to “we” in an attempt to distance myself and the coaching staff from our players. I did that intentionally. While we are all in this together, and we are all part of the program… the coaching staff very well recognizes and admits the shortcomings from this game… I am not quite sure our players do. They need to be mature enough to learn from this. Our coaching staff already has. As coaches, all we can do is prepare our players in the best manner possible and do everything in our power to put them in a position to be successful. We can’t play the game for them. That is 100% on them.
I have mentioned time and time again, that the Montrose program is run exactly like a major college program… only with 16, 17, and 18 year olds. That is why our players are so successful at the next level, because they have already acclimated themselves to the academic and athletic schedules and standards of excellence required of big time Division I programs. We take a lot of pride in “What We Do” (another previous blog post). What separates our program from others is our attention to detail, our strict discipline, and our proven system for building a time honored basketball powerhouse. Structure and discipline are the backbone of our program… and this past Saturday our players lacked both.
The problems began at our standard Saturday game day shoot-around. Our players were told to eat their pre-game meal at 2pm (4 hours before tip-off). On Saturday games, we give our guys the freedom to eat on their own or with their families. They were also told to be dressed in their practice gear and game shoes and on the court at 4pm. When the clock struck 4pm, only two players were dressed and ready. For the next 10 minutes, players casually strolled in… some wearing practice gear and some wearing Montrose sweats. Some even had the audacity to have food in hand when they walked in! This arrogant, lackadaisical attitude is the antithesis of what our program represents and is absolutely unacceptable. This attitude goes against everything we believe.
Part of the problem was the kids knew that Coach Vetter was not going to be at the pre-game shoot around. They knew he would delegate that to our associate head coach, Dan Prete (who is a phenomenal coach in his own right). Coach Vetter chooses not to see our players until right before the game. Coach Prete was shocked and extremely offended by this blatant act of disrespect. He gave them a much needed verbal blasting… hoping to nip their overconfidence in the bud.
However, a verbal blasting a few hours before game time was not enough to knock some sense into our guys. They pretended to put on their game face and act as if they were ready to play… but my keen eye knew better. Our guys continued to go through the motions of our warm-up with a pompous, care free attitude. I tried to light some fire in them…with a few words of wisdom and an array of “F” bombs… but it was to no avail. Their attitude was too deep… they were cocky, thought they were untouchable… and were just plain out of it.
Our staff knew we were in trouble. And boy, were we right.
We missed 6 lay-ups during warm-ups. SIX! Five of which were from our starters. We are one of the top 15 teams in the entire country… we have numerous high major Division I players… and we missed 6 lay-ups?! That can only happen from a severe lack of focus.
Our players thought they could just show up and win based on pure talent.
Looking back, I hope they realize if KHS scored 1 more point during regulation…just 1… they would have showed our guys how wrong they were and taught them a lesson they would never forget. Now, all we can hope for, is our guys are mature enough to learn the same lesson without suffering the actual loss. As mentioned before, we have not lost a home game in the 7 years I have been with the program.
And what is the lesson I hope they learned?
“Respect every opponent; don’t take anyone lightly. On any given night, you can beat anyone. On any given night, anyone can beat you.”
If you don’t really believe that… believe me… someone will eventually bite you in the ass. Ask Tark and Larry Johnson if they thought Duke could beat them in the 1991 national semi-finals. Or if Mike Tyson thought Buster Douglass could win… much less knock him out. The list of surprising upsets is long.
Another lesson I hope they learned?
“It’s not who you play; it’s how you play that matters most.”
Great players and great teams prepare for every game the same way. Whether it is a pre-season scrimmage or a state championship… their mindset is the same.
Please know I really and truly care about the players on our team. They are amazing young men and I am very thankful to get an opportunity to work with them. And that is the main reason I hope they learn from this. I want to see them grow. I want to see them get better. I want to see all of the sacrifices they have made to be a part of our program pay off… not get flushed down the toilet because of an afternoon of immaturity and cockiness.
I told them afterwards, there are three things they need to do when reflecting on this particular game:
1. Admit they were overconfident and didn’t take their preparation seriously
2. Learn from it
3. Don’t ever, ever let it happen again
If they do those three things, then this can be the spark that ignites us and takes us to a whole new level. We absolutely have the potential to be the #1 team in the nation… we have the tools. It will be interesting to see how we respond.
Hopefully, they respond quickly as we have a great opportunity in front of us this week. We head down to Orlando on Wednesday to play in the Montverde Classic. Our first round game is against one of Florida’s state champs from last year, a team that is 14-1 and has most of their players back from last year. If we win that game, we will most likely play the host school, Montverde Academy… a team that hasn’t lost a home game in several years. Montverde is currently ranked # 21 in the nation by ESPN and is coached by Kevin Sutton… a former Coach Vetter assistant of 13 years and an amazing coach. If we were to win that, we will most likely play Findlay Prep in the championship… who is currently ranked #2 in the nation by ESPN… and a team that beat our ass in the semi-finals of last year’s RISE National Championship tournament.
So we have a few days to get it together and take advantage of a special opportunity. I will be tweeting in regularly from the tournament, so make sure you follow me at www.Twitter.com/AlanStein for updates and behind the scenes insight.
And as always, check out (and subscribe to) www.YouTube.com/StrongerTeamDotCom for video clips of our Pre-game Warm-up, On Court Warm-up, and In-Season Workout.
And if you need anything else, or if I can be of service in any way, don’t hesitate to email me at Alan@StrongerTeam.com. I will respond as quickly as possible.