Monday, December 19, 2011

Heading Home with a Win in Hand

At the free throw line.

  Habits die hard I guess. It's Monday morning-ish (I've been awake since 3:45, so it actually feels a little like Monday night), and I can't seem to fight the urge to write a blog. So here I am, giving you all a game recap from Saturday night's win.

  Saturday was the first game of the second half of the season against INSEP. The young team had beaten us in a close game to open the season in September (a game that I missed with my ankle injury), so I knew we would have a close game on our hands.

  INSEP is a team made up of France's best young players. Located in Paris, it's an academy where the top youth players go to hone their skills. On the boys side, NBA players Tony Parker, Boris Diaw, and Ronny Turiaf all attended INSEP as youths. So even though their players are a little on the young side, they still are a very talented group.

  To me, it's the closest thing to an American university with the integration of school and sport. The two are usually separate entities in Europe, with all athletics coming in the form of clubs.

  We were looking to get our fourth straight win, head home for the holidays with a four-game winning streak, and start the second half of our season on a high note. So Saturday was a big game for DMBC Dunkerque (I thought, anyways).

First half action.
  We jumped out to a lead right off the bat. INSEP used a press defensively (which we handled pretty well), so the pace of the game was pretty quick.

  To me, it felt like INSEP was ready to be blown out. There was something about the body language and attitudes of their players that made me think they were just going through the motions.

  Our 13 point lead was about to be 25 by halftime. Or so I thought.

Second half drive.
  Our play at the close of the first half, and the start of the second, was exactly what INSEP needed to get back in the game and gain some confidence. We started turning the ball over against their press, which led to easy baskets for them.

  While they were scoring lay-ups left and right, we stopped scoring, period. The game was tied up midway through the third quarter. And we had a very pumped up and excited opponent on our hands.

  The rest of the game was back and fourth. We maintained a tiny lead until the end of the fourth quarter. I'm not going to lie, I thought we were done when INSEP took the lead in the last minute of the game.

  They had the ball, up two, with about 25 seconds to go. It wasn't looking good for us. Luckily, the INSEP point guard stepped on the sideline, giving us the ball back and an opportunity to tie the game. We did just that, and headed into overtime (my mind is a blank - I can't, for the life of me, remember how we tied it!!).

  Overtime was ours. Call it experience, if you want, but we made the plays in the five-minute overtime to pull out a win. And I am very thankful that we did because a loss would have sent me on 'vacation' with a very bitter taste in my mouth!

Open jumper.
  14 games into a 26 game season, and we seem to have righted the ship. We're above .500, and seemingly have found an identity in how we play. There's still a lot we can do better and tons to improve on, but our team has made great strides since we first came together in August.

  Let's see what we can do in the second half of the season!


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