Basketball season's Part IIIBy: Jim Linsdau, Sports Editor
With the postseason virtually upon us, it’s time to gird our loins for the final push to conclude the winter sports. There is finality to the third part of the season in that it’s one loss and it’s over; win, and you’ve got to do it again.
The Rocklin boys and girls basketball teams are headed into the Sac-Joaquin Section Playoffs as are the Lincoln boys. The Thunder’s and Fighting Zebras’ boys were still in the race for a league title as of this writing so motivation would not be a problem there. The Rocklin girls are out of that race but have to be careful not to be looking too far ahead of their final game.
Also coming to the end of a long season are Sierra College and William Jessup University. Both the men’s and women’s teams for those schools are in a position to enter the postseason as well. In fact, one more win for the WJU Warriors’ men would give them a California Pacific Conference championship. This would come after a 3-14 start in the preseason.
“We started kind of slow with a lot of injuries,” said William Jessup senior Jordan Wilson. Wilson is a graduate of Whitney High School. “I think we’re now playing the best basketball of anybody.”
Added to the difficulty of playing at the next level is the distance of travel. College teams also play on weekends making the balance of academics and athletics even more difficult.
The discipline needed to prepare for postseason play is important in teaching student/athletes what it takes to play at another level. Not only does it mean additional work but the competition becomes keener. Not only does it mean continuing on when others have turned their attentions to other things but it also means getting better.
“I think the most significant thing was the pace of play,” Wilson said of what he experienced going from high school basketball to college. “It was much more physical.”
Preseason is a bit of a mixed bag for most athletes. There is an eagerness to play coupled with the mystery of new opponents and preparing for the challenge of league play. League play generally means common opponents and having some knowledge of what to expect.
Although players come and go, a team’s tendencies and reputation can precede it. It’s the task of building that tendency and reputation into a winning program that is the key to real success. It is also what carries a team into the playoffs with the purpose of winning and not just the conclusion of a goal.
The third part of the season means facing teams ostensibly of equal talent that may not be familiar. Losses in the playoffs do not become significant until a team wins at least two games. Otherwise, it’s a tip of the hat and a “thank you very much, just happy to have been here.”
It could be important for Rocklin’s two squads and Lincoln’s boys to play well in the postseason to help those programs rise to the level needed for things yet to come.