Taking the Last Shot

Week Four and Five: UConn, Finals, and Something Special!

Happy Thursday!

The last two weeks have been SUPER hectic! Between our matchup against #1 ranked UConn, flight delays, and finals, this has been the busiest stretch of the season so far.

Today, I want to give you all an inside look at both what it’s like to match-up against a powerhouse like UConn, as well as how I managed basketball and academic responsibilities during finals week.

Custom shoes we got for Coach's HOF induction

UConn!

If you know anything about women’s basketball, you know that UConn has been the most dominate team in the game for quite a while. In fact, UConn has only lost 2 games in the past three seasons. I’m extremely proud to say that I’m partly responsible for handing them one of those losses. Unfortunately, this most recent game, they got the best of us.

Here’s the run down:

During my days at Stanford, we always played UConn very early in the season. In fact, my freshman and sophomore year, they were our second game of the season. Freshman year, we played at UConn and lost by about 15 points. My sophomore year, we had lost a strong senior class and no one expected us to win.

But we did win, and I learned that there are two traits I want any team I play on to possess.

Grit and execution.

If you’re a high school athlete and haven’t chosen a school yet, these are two great characteristics to look out for when you’re making your decision.

Let’s start with grit:

  • Grit is that intangible quality that makes all of the difference. It means that the team is tough, doesn’t back down, and plays together. It’s about getting to loose balls first, diving on the floor, taking charges, motivating each other, and most of all, every player on the court giving 100% effort with no fear and knowing that all of their teammates are doing the same.

Now for execution:

  • Oftentimes, the most frustrating thing for you won’t be when your team makes a mistake, but instead when you fail to execute. Great teams execute. Not only down the stretch but throughout the game. The worst feeling is losing a game because of an execution error.
  • Here’s something to remember, and hopefully it will help you during your college career.
    • College coaches HATE when the ball handler drives to the middle. And as a defensive player, you should too. When an offensive player gets into the middle of the paint, it wreaks havoc on the defense. Everyone has to rotate differently, and it’s difficult to prevent layups and box out.

Back to UConn:

This year we did some GREAT things against UConn. In fact, we were leading them by 15 late in the third quarter. But, we didn’t have both grit and execution.

We had great grit.

We stuck together as a team and played tough we showed that we are a top caliber team.

But we didn’t execute.

Our lack of defensive execution allowed them to come back and win. I will say though, that since that game, we’ve focused on our execution and it’s paid off (like during yesterday’s overtime game against Marquette). Of course, we’ve still got room to improve, but I’m confident that the next time we play them, we’ll have everything we need to not just lead them, but beat them.

What to watch for?

During the recruiting process, you should be watching for things like grit and execution when you’re deciding where you want to play college basketball.

Does the team huddle up after free throws and on dead balls? What about down the stretch of a close game? Do they have great, body language? Do they get to loose balls and key rebounds first? What about their execution? Do they allow middle drives or open three-pointers? Do they look confused on how they’re supposed to defend screens?

Pro tip:

Defending baseline out-of-bounds plays are almost 100% about communication and execution. Watch how often a team allows the offense to score on these plays and you’ll get an idea of how what their execution and communication is like.

If you’d like to know more about how to choose the right school by identifying things like grit and execution, as well culture, player-coach relationships, and more during the recruiting process, sign up for a special opportunity here. Although I love to help young athletes, I’m still in school so my time is limited. There are only 10 spots available, so don’t miss out!

 

FINALS WEEK

It goes without saying that finals week is tough for any college student, but it’s even more demanding when you’re an athlete. Check out the schedule above to see how this finals week went down:

Saturday we were in Philadelphia to play UPenn. Unfortunately, the weather was pretty horrible in both places, with a lot of wind and snow.

             

The Liberty Bell in Philly

Before we even left to head to the airport, we knew that our flight home would probably be delayed. We all made sure to pack extra clothes and, most importantly, everything we would need to study with while in the hotel.

This trip was also a little different because our team Academic Advisor traveled with us and we had mandatory study hall in the hotel. Although “mandatory” gives the impression that it’s something you might not want to do, everyone knows that our time is limited and so we all valued a chance to sit down and study uninterrupted.

Our game Saturday was an afternoon game, which is usually a great thing, because it means we should be able to get back at a reasonable time. But once the game ended, we found out that we wouldn’t be able to leave until 10am the next morning. I was bummed because that meant I wouldn’t get to go the group study session with my classmates. It’s also just much harder to study while you’re on the road as opposed to in the library on campus.

By the time we made it back to campus, it was around noon on Sunday, so I had to get to studying quickly. My two Monday exams were Managerial Accounting and Economics. I stayed up until around 3am and woke back up around 7am to study a little more. Luckily for these two exams, we were able to make a hand-written cheat sheet on one sheet of printer paper.

Pro-tip:

Just because you can use a cheat-sheet on the exam, don’t assume that means the test is going to be a breeze. Think about it this way:

  • You have to have an understanding of the material to know what’s important to put on the cheat sheet and what’s not. For my accounting exam, it was a cumulative exam that covered 10 chapters with 25 multiple choice questions and 5 free response questions. I had to study those 10 chapters well-enough to know what was important to put on the cheat sheet and what wasn’t.

 

  • It takes more time than you think to make a cheat sheet that will really help you. I’d estimate it took me at least an hour and a half to make each cheat sheet. After that I still have to go through practice problems as well as take the practice exam.

 

  • If you don’t have a cheat sheet, as I didn’t for my two Tuesday exams (Finance and Management Speaking), you’ve got to have an even deeper understanding of the material. Luckily, neither of these exams were cumulative, and therefore we were only tested on material we’d covered since our last test, rather than material from the start of the semester.

If you’d like to learn about my academic process for getting into two of the country’s top schools (Stanford’s ranked #1 and Notre Dame is ranked #26 by Forbes), as well as succeeding academically once you get to college, sign-up here. Similarly to the sign-ups for mastering the recruiting process, spots are limited, so don’t miss out!

 

Police Escort!

For the holidays, we get to go home from the 20th to the 26th. Yesterday, our game against Marquette was at 3pm, and three of us had flights leaving at 6pm. That’s a pretty close window already, but of course the game went to overtime (eye roll emoji). At first, we thought we might miss our flight, but SURPISE! We rush outside to find out that we’ve got a police escort to the airport. Other than winning, that was probably one of the coolest things that happened all day

How’s school going for you? Any big games recently? Let me know in the comments!

Until Next Time,

Lili

2 thoughts on “Week Four and Five: UConn, Finals, and Something Special!

  1. Thank you for sharing your stories. My High School Season is going well. We aren’t getting the W’s I’d like to see but we are growing and getting better everyday. I have a road block with several senior players who seem to have the me phi me syndrome and they can’t shake it. It causes disruption to our team and they believe everything they’re doing is right. Being a new coach, they’re learning that things are now earned and not given to them. How can I keep them engaged for the We > Me factor? It generally boils down to playing time. We have 14 players now and only 40 minutes. They don’t grasp the team concept of those players who are best in different scenarios to help us win will be on the court. They don’t understand “their” time because they think every game is “their” time. There talent level just isn’t there consistently, neither is their effort? I’ve given them “Who moved My Cheese” to read. How do you tell High School players to buy into the program? Support their teammate? Any other suggestions.

    1. Hi Coach!

      I’m glad to hear your team is improving.

      Having a difficulty with the We vs. Me mentality is unfortunately a common part of a team. My advice to you would be this: reward the behaviors you want, and don’t reward the behaviors you don’t want. That might mean less playing time for the players who have ability but aren’t team players/hard workers. I know that’s a hard balance to strike though, because you still want to win and play well. My advice to your players would be this: Learning to step outside yourself and put the “we” before the “me” is a valuable skill. Not just in basketball, but in life. They should take this as an opportunity to challenge themselves and grow.

      Hope this helps!
      Lili

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