The Write Space and Time: Oct. 26

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma  The Write Space and Time
 The Write Space and Time

Adrian Taylor  
Spacing and timing. Sonny and Cher. Batman and Robin. Some things just go together. By themselves they work, kind of. But when paired? Look out. That's when the magic happens. Beautiful basketball pivots on offensive spacing and timing. And it seems to me that life swings back and forth on the same two hinges. So every week or so we'll be examining both, or maybe just pondering about one or the other. And who knows what might happen with the right amount of space and enough time...

Oct. 16, 2009: The Write Space and Time
Oct. 26, 2009: The Vision Part
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Oct. 26, 2009 -- As long as you have a ball you can get better. That's one of the things that I love about this game. Basketball does not discriminate. You don't even need a hoop. Just a ball. And a vision of what you want to be.
Big 12 media day came and went this week and if you read the press that followed, you would think all 12 teams competing have a chance to win it. And you know what? They might. Those picked at the bottom have their fair share of talent, enhanced by the tail wind of being disrespected. Those at the top have ridiculous talent but it could be squeezed by the expectations to dominate. If that pushes everybody toward the already over crowded equator, this year's conference race is going to be a dogfight. But right now, everybody sees themselves as champions.

That's the part that changes. The vision part. That's what you have to build daily. You have to draw and re-trace it and paint it in permanent marker. Eventually you have to seer it in your mind like a brand. If, that is, the vision, is what you expect to become.

Earlier this week our 10 strong were stung by the flu bug, leaving us with eight. And we had a great day. We got better because everyone in the gym worked toward the paper doll cut-out they have of themselves in their minds. And collectively everyone in the gym worked together toward the two Final Four banners that drape above our floor. We moved forward with every repetition toward that thing we want to be.

So, how do you practice with eight guys? It takes 10 to play a game for Heaven's sake! Actually, it's easy. Because basketball eventually becomes a two-man game and another three-man game, regardless of how you slice it. So you work a lot playing 2-on-2 and 3-on-3. And you work on passing and catching and the ever coveted skill of `passing and catching while running'. You work on 4-man shell, and defending ball screens, and blocking out and rebounding. And every player in the gym concentrates on winning the battle against her man on every possession. There might be two on the floor; there might be 10. Doesn't really matter. Getting better is a choice everybody can make every minute of the day.

On great teams all the players make those choices every day. And they follow the blueprint they have in their heads, not only of they player they want to be, but also of the players they see their teammates becoming. This vision stuff matters...the body has to be able but the mind does the steering. I've seen many an able athlete head down a mediocre road.

But not my eight. Not last Thursday anyway. And not my nine today. They just keep marching toward the team they want to be. And I'm loving beating the drum.

- SC