Sunday, March 6, 2011
Basketball Jalen II -- The Season
M'man NY Jon condescendingly pens:
I can accept that you watch less basketball than any other black man in America but where are the occasional blog updates from Jalen's first season of playing hoops? Your son was EJECTED from a game! How does that NOT become a five-part post by itself?
Good point. And, don't think I forgot that the last words in my first basketball Jalen post were: "I seem to be finding my enthusiasm for basketball".
Coach Aaron! -- With the team's head coach out of town on business; I filled in for our game on Monday, January 17. I had stayed home from work that day as my first round of upper respiratory issues were just beginning their initial mutation from "moderately bothersome" to "mildly debilitating". Laryngitis had taken hold of my vocal cords, so I put the kids through an uncomplicated lay-up drill, folded my arms and silently stood directly under the basket -- all authoritative-like. I soon learned the folly of standing anywhere within the vicinity of the basket as six and seven-year-old kids attempted awkward shot after awkward shot. This short video neatly summarizes what happened to me twice within the first ten seconds of the shoot-around.
The Bulldogs! -- My interim coaching gig, not surprisingly, lasted just one game. Our opponents for the evening were universally recognized throughout the rec center and adjacent playgrounds as the best team in the league -- the Bulldogs. Their coaches on the court and their parents in the stands wore matching, professionally screen-printed t-shirts with a bulldog logo (which reminded me of this scene, for some reason). Their kids -- six and seven-year-olds! -- were efficient on offense and positively asphyxiating on defense as they responded to the ridiculously coded play-calling from their coaches. My raspy game plan ("SHOOT! SHOOT! That's OK! That's OK! Get back on D! Get back on D!") couldn't compare. To my team's credit; they played hard for 20 minutes before unconditionally surrendering on defense after halftime.
Jalen Gets Ejected! -- For the second straight week, our kids were getting obliterated by a better-prepared and more experienced team. There was one doughy little boy in particular -- wearing number 24 -- who was taking almost every shot for his team. He'd preen to his delirious parents with guttural screams and showy chest-beating whenever one went in. Late in the game, he was shooting the ball as soon as he touched it, no matter where he was standing on the court. On one such possession, Jalen ran over to block the shot and inadvertently steamrolled number 24. It was clearly an accident, but 24 was rolling around on the floor as if he'd been gored -- never mind that he's a few inches taller than Jalen and at least 15 pounds heavier. He's crying as he "staggers" to his feet and complaining to the referee. Immediately after play resumes, Jalen begins backpedalling up the court and accidentally elbows his antagonist in the chest right between the "2" and the "4". He goes down again. The referee then escorted Jalen off the court.
(OK...if Jalen was intentionally trying to hurt an opponent, I'd have dragged him off the court myself. But, Jalen sat at the end of the bench with his face in his hands for the rest of the game and was genuinely apologetic. Now, it would be wildly irresponsible for me to suggest that number 24 deserved any of this, so let's all just move on to the next...oh, fine, he deserved the first blow.)
Keilee Joins the Team! -- Not unlike the old ABA, players in our league seemed to randomly come and go for the first few weeks of the season. At picture day, we met the newest member of our team -- a cute little girl by the name of Keilee. Jalen chatted her up as the team waited their turn for pictures. He shadowed her on the court during the game. And, she was the only player on the team who Jalen specifically sought out after the game to say goodbye. Does THIS sound like the kind of little boy who carries malicious intent in his heart, number 24? Does it?! Oh, get UP, already! Quit crying! Do you want a fresh one? Huh?
The Birthday Game! -- As we drove to the game on Monday, February 7, Jalen clearly stated his singular goal for the evening ("I've gotta make a basket on my birthday.") Coincidentally, Jalen attempted seven shots on his seventh birthday. I was only able to capture six of the shots on film, but you can probably guess how the seventh one went. Jalen's exasperated "Ah, c'MAHN!" after a miss that rattled around the rim did make my evening, though.
The "I Can't Believe I Got My Shot Blocked by a Girl" Game! -- Sorry, but I promised Jalen that we'd never mention this game again.
Victory! -- This is one of those "skills development, semi-competitive" leagues that buffers kids' feelings by not keeping score -- even though the kids, themselves, keep score during the game. I can say with relative certainty that unofficially we hadn't won a game all season. The losing streak ended this past Monday as our kids looked like a whole new unit. Their passing was crisp and their shooting was even better. In fact, everyone on team made at least one basket (save for one little boy, who'll we'll cover -- politely, I promise! -- in my team scouting report post later this month). Jalen finished the game with a career-high three points, which is exactly the way he described it as happily bounced off the court.
I seem to be finding my enthusiasm for basketball. Again!