Monday, March 19, 2012

Two Game-Changing Moments

I don't think he likes me. :P

  DMBC Dunkerque (my team!) was in store for a tough game Saturday night. We knew that coming into the game. League-leader Perpignan came to town with only two losses on the season. They had out-classed us, and easily beaten us in our first match up back in November. But for some reason, I had a good feeling going into the game Saturday. Maybe I'm crazy, or maybe I am overly optimistic -- but I felt we had a good shot at scoring the upset (it is March Madness after all, right?!?).

  There were two game-changing moments in our match up against Perpignan Saturday night. I doubt either moment stood out to spectators, but I felt they were the most important moments in the 40-minute game. Neither of them happened when the game was on the line, or in the waning moments of the fourth quarter, but they were crucial none the less.

Early-season game.
  My teammates and I opened the game strong; my good feelings prior to the game were backed up with solid play from the start. We were up 16-7 with less than two minutes to go in the first quarter -- clearly in control of the game. We had a opportunity to pull even further ahead of Perpignan with an end-of-the quarter run. But the opposite happened. After the first quarter buzzer sounded, Perpignan had cut our lead to 16-12.

  That was the first big impact moment of the game. Instead of holding them scoreless (like they did to us), and extending our lead to double-digits, Perpignan started the second quarter with all the momentum. To get wins against great teams, you have to capitalize on those moments.

The second game-changing moment happened early in the third quarter. We made the mistake of putting them into the bonus (five team fouls) with almost seven minutes to go in the quarter. So anytime we committed a foul, for the remaining seven minutes of the third, Perpignan was headed to the free throw line for two shots. Easy way to control the game, and put points on the board.

Earlier this season.
Against some teams, that might not hurt you too much. But against Perpignan, who boasts front line players of 6'6", 6'4", 6'4", and 6'3" (that's TALL on the women's side), it'll kill you. They're a team that constantly goes inside, and pounds the offensive boards. Needless to say, Perpignan spent a lot of time at the free throw line in the third (and fourth) quarter. They shot 27 free throws on the game (to our 14, by comparison). Perpignan easily put points on the board throughout the second half, while we struggled to keep pace.

  Obviously there were many moments before and after that had great impact on the game Saturday night. But to me, basketball is a game of momentum and runs. And those two moments tipped momentum and the advantage to Perpignan both times.

  Here's another thing that became obvious against Perpignan: you can't teach size. It's as true in Europe as it is anywhere else you toss up a basketball. Many of you know I'm on the taller side of the height-spectrum (6'2" for those of you wondering), but I am rarely the tallest player on the court. Many times on Saturday, Perpignan's five on the court looked like this: 6'6", 6'4", 5'11", 5'11", and an averaged sized PG at 5'7".

  They controlled the paint, and made scoring inside difficult for us. With height all over the court, any defensive mistake on our part likely led to a lay up, or an offensive rebound, and put back (or foul) for Perpignan. Tough to compete against a team like that for 40 minutes.

Versus Le Havre.
  It was great being back on the court, and competing in a game (it had been a while since I had played in a game because of bye weeks, and an injury). It's always tough to take a loss, but taking a positive approach, I felt we played a solid game. Perpignan was just a stronger team. We only have five more games on our schedule -- wow this season has flown by!!

  ~ Sabrina


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