- John Wooden
WEST POINT, N.Y. - Proportion and inverse are mathematical concepts, but they can be twisted and bastardized to work in psychology
. For instance, our willingness to accomplish a task is directly proportional to our motivation to get said task done.
Of course, there are limitations - both physical and mental - to anything we set out to complete, but the fact remains that when we really want to reach a goal, we're much more likely to do our damnedest to reach it.
I had Sunday's Patriot League game between Lehigh and Army circled almost when the schedule came out in the fall. Problem was, upon arising Sunday morning, the forecast called for light snow, and travel near West Point in wintry conditions is usually ill-advised, especially in the Toyota Camry
I was using.
But I thought about switching games, and decided that my excitement level reached the point where it was worth the danger.
Sometimes, just like players and coaches in Our Game, we think too much. By the time I reached the historic and beautiful United States Military Academy
90 minutes before tip-off, the sun was shining brightly.
(Wandering the grounds, I'm convinced part of Loyola's push to join
the Patriot League is to have Jimmy Patsos bring his team on tours of Army and Navy. Those may be 12-hour tours before he's done looking at all the stuff and the natural beauty of this place.)
I was torn with two of my favorite young coaches in Our Game going head-to-head. Zach Spiker has instituted an unusual style, but it's entertaining, and has threatened to breathe some life into a program that hasn't had a winning season in two decades in an impossible place to recruit.
We know what Brett Reed has done at Lehigh, as he is threatening to being a second straight Patriot League title back to Lehigh, even without one of their all-time greats, C.J. McCollum.
Lehigh jumped out to an early 8-2 lead but Army was bombing away with superhoops already, and Kyle Wilson, who is quietly enjoying a fantastic plebe season (the key on the Army roster reads: Plebe = Freshman; Yearling = Sophomore; Cow = Junior; First Class = Senior), hit from behind the arc and it was down to 8-7 by the first media time out.
As Lehigh huddled, I looked over to see a depressing yet touching scene. There were only two people left sitting on the visiting bench, and they were sitting side-by-side: McCollum, who didn't want to hobble back and forth all afternoon, and Reed's young son. You can kind of see them in the background here with Reed in front of them.
McCollum per usual, was always smiling and I wondered from the other side of the court what kind of conversation they might be having:
(Full disclosure: I obviously could not have heard them from my seat, so this is just my best attempt at a guess. Please don't take it seriously. And don't take yourself so seriously, either, while you're at it.)
"Hey C.J., Mackey (McKnight)'s really playing well. How come people don't talk about him?"
"Don't know, he just got seven points in a couple of minutes and they can't keep up with him. Their loss."
"Anthony (D'Orazio), too. Dad wishes he could play everyone more, but he says he can only play five at a time, and it's tough."
"Well, Anthony keeps working hard, even though the shots haven't been going in. He's only made two of his last 17 before today, but he can't miss right now. Look, we're up 31-15, and they had to call another time out."
"Hey, C.J., why does Army sub so much? They have like 20 people on the bench, too."
"Don't know, guess the coach has a lot of players, and it looks like almost all of them can shoot, so he tries to get them in. Kind of weird he didn't start No. 13 (Ella Ellis) when that's his best player, though. And it's not working today."
"Well, C.J., liked it better when it was 47-25, but Dad will still be happy with 47-31 at halftime. I'm going to see Mom to get something to eat. See you in a few minutes."
"Hey, C.J., when are you going to be able to play again?"
"Don't know, hopefully soon. But healing is slow when you break a bone, unfortunately. I just hope I can get one more shot at it before the season is over."
"Dad says he hopes so, but he has to plan like you're not coming back."
"Ha, I understand. Hey this is getting a little too close. That little guy (Kyle Toth) keeps hitting shots, it's down to nine points and there's still 13 minutes left. Uh oh, that coach isn't too happy."
"I guess he got a technical foul, but I don't know for what, we were just dribbling the ball near his bench and the ref went nuts. Weird. Ha, did you see that? After we got a bunch of points in a row after the technical, he had to call time out, and he started to go out toward the ref, but instead he just yelled into his arm and walked back to the bench angry. He kind of looked like you when Dad tells you that you can't stay up to watch a game."
"I don't look that funny."
"Maybe you don't."
(After the game, I asked one of the Army assistants what the mystery technical that killed the Army run was and he said, "I wish I could tell you. I guess we said, 'Call the foul' one too many times but no one was loud or swore or anything. Seems ridiculous, especially under the circumstances.")
"Dad is starting to get mad again, it's 68-63 and there's still five minutes left. What's going on?"
"Well, they like to take a lot of three-pointers, and they're finally starting to make them. Plus, that Ellis guy is playing awesome and so is the little guy again. We'll be alright, I've seen this before."
"Man, these guys play hard. No wonder they're going into the army."
"Yea, finally we're going to win, but considering we were up 22 in the first half, that was tough. (grabs stat sheet). Look, they had 16 offensive rebounds and nine more than us total. Dad's not going to be happy about that, the team won't like watching some of those on film much."
"He'll probably practice at home first. He's always watching those games on the television. He watches the same plays over and over."
"True. Dad cares a lot about his job and wants the team to do really well. That's why we respect him so much."
"Don't worry, Mom will tell him to turn it off and come downstairs after a while. It will be quicker tonight because we won. Game's over. See you next time, C.J."
"When am I coming over for dinner?"
"I'll ask Mom and Dad, while he's in a good mood."