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Davis: Good teams know how to turn the page

POSTED: January 3, 2010 10:55 p.m.
Any coach on any level knows there are three phases to a basketball season: preseason, region season and postseason.

The first phase gets you prepared for the second, which is the most important because without the second, you don’t play in the third.

Now here’s the catch: you can’t let play in one phase determine play in the next.

The Buford girls are undefeated right now, and it isn’t because they’re lucky.

The Lady Wolves play suffocating defense and are deep, as evidenced by the fact that they beat Gainesville by 31 points Saturday night even though star sophomore Andraya Carter had only five points.

They are beating teams by an average of 28 points and held their first region opponent (Avondale) to just 18 points.

But complacency is a momentum killer — not to mention a team killer — and if the Lady Wolves begin thinking they’re as good as they’ve shown they are, the region phase might not play out like they want it to.

On the flip side are the Gainesville girls.

The Lady Red Elephants began the season ranked No. 2 in the state and deservedly so.

They returned one of the state’s top players in Jaymee Carnes and leading contributors Mikalyn DeFoor and Loren Thomas are now upper classmen.

Things haven’t panned out very well for Gainesville thus far, but that doesn’t mean they won’t in the end.

After starting the season by beating then-No. 1 Carrollton by 11, the Lady Red Elephants lost three straight and four of the next six.

Coach Manson Hill has been at this a long time and knows that preseason strength of schedule goes a long way in strengthening a team for the portion of the season that really matters, especially when you have an experienced team like he does this year.

If the Lady Red Elephants get down on themselves because of the early losses, however, Coach Hill’s apparent preseason strategy will be for naught.

A basketball season is long, a team can’t get too hyped or too down, but must stay on an even keel.

An abundance of preseason losses look ugly in the context of a record, but mean nothing in the long term. Preseason wins are pretty, and it’s cool to say you’re undefeated or have only one loss, but they mean nothing.

The same can be said for tournament titles. The North Hall boys won Lanierland, but when it comes down to it, a region title and a state tournament berth are what the Trojans want.

One phase prepares you for the next and, more than that, teaches a team how to win and what it takes not to lose.

Katie Davis is a sports writer for The Times. Contact her at kdavis@gainesvilletimes.com.


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