What Opening Night Means to Programs

Last night I was lucky to attend the St. John’s at Sacred Heart women’s basketball game and I definitely got my monies worth (well, actually I got in for free from the SHU coaching staff! — Thank you).

St John’s squeaked out a 77-72 overtime win over the Lady Pioneers, and there was a little bit of everything.

A rowdy crowd. A pep band. Cheerleaders. Seven players reaching double figures. A freshman notching her first points; double figures to boot. Another player recorded her first career double-double. A coaching debut. A foul on a 3pt field goal attempt with :16 left in regulation. The officials using the monitor to see if the field goal attempt was in fact a 3pt FGA. SHU proceeding to make all three free throws to tie the game up. A Red Storm flurry of shots at the end of regulation, none of which fell, to send the game into overtime. Overtime. Back-and-forth clutch shooting in overtime by both teams. A good look after a timeout by SHU that gave the Pioneers a chance to tie the game up again. St. John’s free throws to seal the win. And all of this with SHU Athletic Director and former Red Sox Manager, Bobby Valentine, rooting his Pioneers on.

Wow, what a game! What an atmosphere!

One thing that did not occur was the new 10 second backcourt rule. Although SHU did implement a 2-2-1 press throughout the game to slow the athletes that SJU had, no violation happened.

Still, I believe that the game had a great pace partially because of this new rule and helped to force the action. I will continue to monitor this rule throughout the year but it seems to have been successful at least for the first night. The rule also makes sense since high school and men’s college basketball use it. Adding this rule is something that coaches, players, and spectators will probably look at in years to come and think “wow, how did we not play with this rule before?”

More importantly, opening night serves as a reason for hope for every men’s and women’s basketball program in the country. Everyone is 0-0 and everyone has visions of cutting down the nets come march. The journey is long and arduous. Coaches must prepare their teams in a variety of ways. Injuries, schedule, game preparation, player improvement and sheer will all play a role in the outcome of each program’s season.

The beginning of the year symbolizes not just hope though. The beginning of the season is synonymous with control. Each program feels as though they have control over the outcome of their year and that is VERY exciting. Each program creates their own destiny. No excuses, just enthusiasm.

The excitement during “March Madness” is incomparable, except for maybe on opening night…Everyone is in first place.

Good luck to all the coaches and players this season…Let the games begin!

Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo – Your feedback is welcomed and appreciated

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