Grinnell vs. Lawrence: Neck and neck in the second half

The men’s basketball team traveled to Iowa this past weekend, where they faced off against Grinnell College. In the second half of the game, the Vikings scored 60 points to Grinnell’s 62, however, the Vikings had a rocky start, only obtaining 47 points to Grinnell’s 60. Because of this the Viking’s unfortunately lost to Grinnell by 15 points, 122-107. This goes to show how important it is to start the game ready to go. The slow start was the minor setback in the first half, and ended up costing the Vikings the game.

The men had persistence and resilience to not give up in the second half, especially after having a rocky start. It would have been easy for them to throw the game, but they chose to keep fighting. They only scored a basket less than the other team, almost matching Grinnell’s score perfectly, in the second half. Their second half performance displays how they continued to compete at their best ability.

Sophomore Bryce Denham explained, “I think the biggest challenge for us was probably remaining in our system. We had a game plan and at times we deviated from it, and because of that we struggled.” Game plans are great; they prepare one for the common challenges that should arise. However, they cannot account for everything, for the unknown is simply unknown. With that in mind, it makes sense that a system can be torn apart, or breaks down, or simply just does not work for that specific method. The challenge is, when you are stuck, the team must figure out what needs to be done in order to fix the problem, and fix it fast.

This time the Vikings were not quick enough to adapt, but that takes practice. I then asked Denham what he felt he personally struggled with during this game against Grinnell. Denham said, “I think I need to work on not getting frustrated when things don’t go our way. That’s something that I’ve always struggled with. I always play better when I’m calm and collected”. Denham points out an important fact. When one gets angry, they do not tend to perform to the best of their ability. The anger impairs their skills and that frustration takes over their body, their mind and the game. Though Denham said he was frustrated during the game, which showed in the first half, something happened during halftime, which slapped the team out of their trance. That adjustment takes guts, mental endurance and focus.

Looking at the score, I asked Denham if he thought the team’s skills and intensity picked up as the game went on. He said, “I think we definitely improved as the game went on, especially in the second half. We stressed sticking to our system and when we did that, good things happened”. Sometimes all it takes is a minute, to step back and look at the problem, possibly from a different angle, in order to find the solution.

Though the Vikings did not win, there were some positive takeaways from the game. “I think every game is a learning experience whether you win or lose,” Denham said. “We’re just going to take the things we struggled with, work on them in practice and come back stronger the next game.” Denham’s growth mindset is the right one to have, especially for an athlete who wants to improve. This mind set shows that Denham’s future is full of potential.

“We knew that this was going to be a very tough game against a team that is at the top of our league right now,” said the men’s basketball head coach Zach Filzen. “I was not pleased with how we played as a whole. We struggled to execute our game plan and do what we worked on in practice. We need to learn this lesson and get back to work tomorrow”.

Coach Filzen had some ideas on how the Vikings could be more successful in the future: “We really need to grow in the areas of execution and competing every second of every day. When we execute our system on both ends of the floor we have had some success this season and are difficult to beat. However, we have too many moments where we get out of our system on either end of the court. We need to continue to grow in this area, seeking to put together a full 40+ minutes of great execution. In addition, we need to keep on competing day in and day out. We have too many moments where we get a little lackadaisical. Our guys know that we need to compete every second of every day”.

That’s really all a coach can ask for, having their athletes give the 100% they know they can, and sometimes that 101%, coupled with the ability to learn from their mistakes, coated with determination, with that, nothing will be able to stop them.