Once the calendar kicks over to November, our sporting life transitions from soccer to basketball. The two sports have been going simultaneously for the past several weeks, but yesterday was the first basketball game after several weeks of practices, a day after Michael's final regular-season soccer game.
The basketball league organizes the players into teams based upon their relative ability so that they can compete against teams of comparable ability from other parishes. This year, there were enough players for four fourth grade teams. Michael was placed on the third-level team, along with most of the players from his team last year. It seemed to be a good fit. We looked forward to picking up again with what had become a pretty decent team.
Somewhere along the way, it was decided that the third and fourth level teams were meant to be one large pool of players from which to relatively equal teams would be created. A few players, including Michael, ended up changing teams. He is now on a team without anyone from his squad last year.
Our first game was against that other team, and they annihilated us. Much like Michael's first game last year, the score was lopsided (32-8), and Michael scored three of the team's four baskets. Taking last year's experience as a guide, we can hope for substantial improvement as the players learn to work with each other and develop a set offense, which they did not have last night.
For his part, Michael played reasonably well at point guard. He had a few turnovers, but he showed advanced ballhandling skills with both hands, and late in the game blew away the other team's most athletic player with a killer crossover and drive down the open lane (he missed the layup, but that part will come later). The fun thing for me is that we had discussed that very move earlier in the afternoon. We talked about how the other team would grow to expect him to work the ball around to teammates, which would present a late-game opportunity to surprise them with a crossover penetration to the basket. Other than missing the shot, the play worked perfectly. He may not have a lot of experience, but Michael can put coaching into action as well as anyone.
The rest of the team shows promise. We have two very tall twins who show a lot of promise in particular. We would probably have more immediate success, and maybe more fun with people we already know well, if Michael had stayed on the other team. On this team, however, he will be the undisputed point guard and get a ton of minutes at that position. Given his small stature, that will work out well for him in the long term.