As I mentioned in my last post, they play two halves. Well without sounding too negative, the USA women forgot how to play a second half of the Bronze medal game. I know some will think that I am beating up on these ladies while they are down but as someone with a disabled sports blog this is part of what the wheelchair sporting community can come to expect. I played, never at this level however basketball is basketball. I don’t know if it was the loss to Germany, the loss to Australia but the USA women’s wheelchair basketball team lost something in those loses. I don’t know if they lost their confidence, ability to communicate, ability to switch on defense, the ability to shoot ( no offense Becca Murray) but there was something missing. Now if they could have played the whole game as they did in the first six minutes on the game, this game would have came down to the buzzer or the USA would have won by 12. They came out strong but I believe they forgot that the Netherlands wanted that Bronze medal just as bad. Let’s give the Netherlands their due. Three names I will give you that made a difference in this game being close or a win for the USA….Oosterman, Korver, and of course the lady who couldn’t be stopped from the tip of the ball, #4 for the Netherlands, Huitzing. Huitzing put on a performance that won’t soon be forgotten. But as I say that there were defensive mistakes that even a novice player would have taken advantage of. The USA defense did jump her, the USA defense didn’t go over the screen to at least make her think there would be someone coming from anywhere to contest her shot. After the Netherlands would miss a shot I saw a lot of sitting around. Almost looked like shock had taken over the team and they were mesmerized by what the Netherlands were doing. The Netherlands learned something from the games the USA played during the 2012 Paralympics and they implemented them to a T. USA obviously hates being pressured, they pressured them, USA although not usually don’t mind playing from behind but not even this great team could come back from less than 40% shooting and how many times can these ladies come from being down and playing in close games stay with a team that was shooting out of their minds…they couldn’t. Shot s were flat and as I mentioned lots of sitting around. I have to say just one thing about the coaching staff of this USA women’s team…it’s easy to say you know but the trick is getting results. There was actually only one move I kept yelling at the computer screen about, take Nichols out there was something wrong with her today. Maybe a breather would have cleared her mind and she would have been a bit more productive on both offense and defense. I don’t put this loss directly on the shoulders of the coaches but let me say, as a coach the buck stops with you. Overall this staff is too smart to let these ladies hang out there like they did. I know one of the coaches personally and another one on his legend status and what I saw today wasn’t the staff’s best effort. This USA team has a lot to think about over the next few weeks and no I don’t need to mention them. In life you either learn from your mistakes or you just end up being a stat. My guess is the stat of 4th place at the 2012 Paralympics will be learned from. But let me end with this…there was elephant sized pressure for these ladies to win a gold medal three times in a row. For any team able bodied or disabled, it’s like climbing Mt. Everest. I am proud of the USA women’s wheelchair basketball team and will admire those who make the team as players and coaches. However if we want to take the next step on getting the word out we have to embrace failure as well and build on that.
Next up the Men’s chance at a Bronze, let us hope that Coach Glatch and his staff learned from the women…don’t play about 8 minutes of a 40 minute game. Till we meet again on Wheels in Motion…have a great one and thanks for visiting Wheels in Motion.