Any Mystics I versus Mystics II can be as welcome as a severe dose of cramp at 3 o’clock in the morning. As Mystics I coach, you don’t want to run up a huge margin of victory (50+) but you certainly don’t want the embarrassment of a really close game (10 or less.) This impacts on your team selection. How many of your strongest players do you omit in an attempt to be considered ‘a jolly good sport’ by the Mystics II coach? Which of their players should you have chosen to be in Mystics I? Horror of horrors, what if the unthinkable happens and you actually lose the game? (Headline on Sky Sports News: ‘Youth team basketball coach goes into hiding.’)
After many sleepless nights deciding (not really), the talented quartet of Anya (with a ‘y’), Jane, Fatima and Alycia didn’t feature for us. 3 of them came to watch and 1 was playing football for England U15s. (No, not Fatima!) To begin, I resisted the Temptation(s) (my favourite group – ask an old person!) to go with my preferred starting 5. Mystics II took advantage of my generosity/naivety to draw first blood. They looked very lively and were very much our equals (another good group) at 12-12. An even first quarter ended with us 16-12 to the good despite an unconvincing opening 10 minutes. (We normally play in red but they were in red this time and our confusion caused us to occasionally pass to a player in red!)
I thought about using an alarm clock to get my team to wake up but, instead, invited them to up their defence and start moving the basketball instead of dribbling the seams off it. They listened and performed significantly better from then on. I was pleased with our team defence in the second period which limited our worthy opponent s to just 3 baskets over the 10 minutes. That said, they did very well to restrict us to a below par 16 points.
We had discussed find ways to improve our fast break potential and putting theory into practice, we ran in 45 points in the second half in an impressive display from all 12 players. To their credit, Mystics II posted 27 points of their own to make the final score 77-45, neither a huge margin nor too close for comfort. Our opponents had thrown us a banana skin but we prefer strawberries!