MARCH – 2001 FLIP’S COACH’S JOURNAL –

Never forget your first
A little Hamm and Priebe on wry…

 

Thursday, March 1, 2001

It is a hectic day with practice and then we leave at 7:00. We’ll probably get in to Provo at about 3:00 a.m. We saved a few dollars on the bus charter by waiting until 7:00 to leave. The players can sleep late tomorrow, Friday, as we don’t play until 3:30 at Utah Valley State.

We will be at the Provo Marriott until we return after the BYU game on Saturday night. Actually I really like traveling on the bus sometimes. We can watch videos, I can talk to people I want or groups for that matter. We can get clear on our game plan. We all get places at the same time when we travel by bus. It is a little cramped, though with 40 plus.. We are taking one minivan to get around in while we are at the hotel.

More and more parents are traveling to these types of games nowadays. sort of parent lacrosse groupies. They are part of the family, too, in a way. I am really excited about this trip.

Friday, March 2, 2001

Can you say bus lagged? Yes, I can.and I am. Our 7 hour bus ride to Provo was actually 9. We didn’t get in until well after 4:00 a.m. and I wasn’t asleep until 5:30. It seemed like right after that I started getting calls from BYU TV. I am tired, but it beats getting called from a deep sleep by the hotel manager to lecture me on the behavior of my team. Of course that has never happened to me. I just heard about it from other coaches.

The bus was packed, and I once again was reminded by one of our older players that our entourage is too large. I guess he’s right, certainly bus wise, but I like the entourage. Next trip, the one to Michigan in three weeks, we fly, and will “only” take 40 total people..

The up side of the trip is that somehow I got this whole 2 room suite thing, and I am sitting here at a desk in the sitting room, sipping coffee, hooked up to the “dataport” and pounding this out as the players sleep. Thanks, Jeremy. Wake up calls will start at noon.

We have work to do today. We will play a very fired up Utah Valley team. This game needs to be a dress rehearsal for tomorrow. If we struggle, it will worry me.

I don’t want to burden the team with the enormity of a single game just yet. It is just another game with BYU, which is huge for us, TV or not, #1 vs. #2 or not. What I want to do is play smart and clean, and as a team with a single mind every time we play, even in practice. The rest will take care of itself.

No one wins the league tomorrow, no one is eliminated from anything. The thing at stake is that # 1 ranking, which in late April in the USLIA means a lot. On that note, the St. Louis expansion has been approved, and it will now be a 16 team tournament that covers 5 days, with a day off on Thursday, in the middle.

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We beat UVSC today 17-4, but the game was not ours without a struggle. I give a lot of credit to a much improved and inspired UVSC Wolverine team. Overall, we played uninspired, and in a big way that is my fault because I didn’t talk about this game. I talked about the one tomorrow all week, but I perhaps should have addressed the game today a little more. Some of the young guys played great today.

We have a few injuries. I don’t know how they will affect us. Sometimes I am amazed at their powers of recuperation, and they always say they are fine, even if they have a body part that is swollen beyond recognition..

We all had dinner at TGI Fridays and wore our new team travel shirts.

After dinner we had a meeting; 39 players, two coaches, and two trainers packed in my “suite” We talked about the game tomorrow and what we need to do, the “game plan”. A lot of guys spoke up. We covered many game topics. We want to be on the same page all day tomorrow. I want our collective will to be obvious to all who see the game.

Face off at 3:06 p.m. mst. Saturday. Fifteen hours from now.

Saturday, March 3, 2001

The day has finally arrived. They always do. It is grey and wet and cold out, par for the 2001 course. It misted during the night and the streets look like they have just been varnished. The field will be pristene, newly redone for the soccer team at BYU. It is grass. We have never played at this location.

There will be 6 cameras for BYU TV, and I hear they will have a roving sideline reporter as well. No self respecting sportscast of the 3rd millenium can go on without one of those. When I think about it, it is kind of cool that my wife and family in Fort Collins will be able to watch this game on TV. It may only be BYU TV, but it is a long way from where we started. I hope we put on a good show.

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous, but at the same time I believe in this team and their ability to rise for a challenge, and this is definitely one of those. We need to have fun. I want to tip the first domino and begin the chain of positive events; i.e. get off to a good start.

I think this will be my last entry until we get home. I don’t have that cell phone modem thing going yet.

Sunday, March 4, 2001

We didn’t get off to a very good start, falling behind 3-0 and making some mistakes early, and every time we clawed our way back, they anwered with a quick goal or a run. The final was 16-13 It hurts, and it will be very difficult to turn that score upside down. The team mood is positive about our potential, and right now that is a good start. I can’t make excuses for losing. We played well in the second half, after traling 9-4, but they were the better team yesterday.

On the bus ride home there was much talk of our “laundry list” of things to do. All in all I was proud of the effort we gave. We “left it on the field” and never gave up, but we chased all day, and BYU dictated the pace, not us..My family thought we looked nervous as they watched on TV in Fort Collins. Maybe we were, especially early on, but BYU is a good team. Jason Lamb does a great job of organization, and they have some pedigree players from back east. We are a little more the “band of renegades” type. As one player said, “We needed the A game, and only brought the B+ one”

My son Michael, face off specialist for the Fort Collins High School.team, made the most astute statement of all. He said, “I thought you guys slid more”. So did I. Apparently I neglected to tell the team. We looked like we were in slow motion on Saturday. I thought we were the hunters. I have work to do.

We need more practices, that is for sure. There were a few defensive adjustments that I might have made for their inverted set up, but we don’t really have some things put in our defensive “package” just yet. It looked like they had spent all week watching us on tape. Cale the goalie played great, but we need to help him a little bit more.

We can turn this frown upside down..

Everyone is on spring break now. I have some time to think about where we go from here. On Monday when we return, a week from tomorrow, we will have a day practice, a night practice at 7:00, and then we will watch the video from the BYU game together. I plan on making a few copies so the players can watch it a lot. It will be very nice to have a current good quality tape of us and BYU. We can cross off that laundry list one by one.

The whole TV production was pretty good. They have five of these BYU lacrosse telecasts, the next one this Saturday, BYU vs. Cal.

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Tuesday, March 6, 2001

The sting of Saturday’s game remains. I am still not quite right, and I’m sure that in technical terms I am “obsessively rethinking” the game. I think I’ll be alright in a day or two. Slowly, the disappointment of losing is fading, and the excitement of the challenge at hand is starting to take hold.

One great thing is that I finally have a high quality video of an important game. The tape shows very clearly where the problem areas were. This will be a great teaching tool. With slow motion and the pause button I will be able to disect the things we need to work on. When they see themselves on tape, the learning curve really goes up.

Confidence wise we need to get back to square one and build anew, because to finish these kinds of games with a better outcome, we must dictate in a way we were unable to do against BYU last Saturday. We chased them the entire game. Perhaps we were not well enough prepared, and that is my job, so I have to do better. We all do. We need to be smart and scrappy, and to capitalize on any and all opportunities given.. We must come out stronger early in the game. We have to be more physical as well, and light some people up.

Tomorrow I go to Las Vegas with my wife and son and a few days of “relaxing”. Monday comes season #2. We leave for Michigan two weeks from Thursday for 3 big games, Friday night 3/23/01 vs. Texas, Saturday vs. Michigan, and Sonoma on Sunday. Before that we have Regis at home on St. Patty’s Day.

Thursday, March 8, 2001

I must admit that if there is a place where the distractions are infinite and my mind could be derailed temporarily from its usual March train of lacrosse thought, it would be Las Vegas. Every place has a no windows, no clock decor, and it is like there is a spot light everywhere you look, beckoning. The world of Vegas is a fascinating spectacle of human diversity. The appetite for more seems insatiable here.

I am in Las Vegas looking at a business investment. This place has exploded. It has become a major metropolis in the last several years.

I don’t usually do very well gambling, and once again proved my lack of medal by losing $70 in about one hour tonight on slots and poker. I have about $25 worth of quarters in a cup on the dresser, and I’m sure that they will end up in a push button bandit before I leave.

“Gambling” or going for something based on a gut feeling is something that I much prefer to do in a coaching situation. Many of my greatest rewards in coaching have come from “taking a chance” on an individual who really believed in himself. Putting a player in a situation you are not sure he is ready for can be a gamble, but if he steps up, then the “payoff” feels much better to me than anything Las Vegas has to offer me.

A couple of the players are out here for break, and we had dinner last night. I always like hangin’ with my boys. I can’t wait to get back on the practice field. I’m hoping we will start to get some nice weather and have some “normal” type practices. Everything became so frantic before break, as I had not enough time on the practice field, and there was much to get in. It will stay light a little later now, and that will help, too.

Everyone will be ready to go Monday. They will need to be, because, as a team, we need to stretch much farther and higher to than we thought we would have to in order achieve what we want to this year. Our room for error is small, and after the game in Provo last Saturday, that is something that has become clear to everyone.

My focus for the upcoming two weeks of practices is to define roles, and for us to specialize in certain situations, which will create more roles. I want them to be thinking about what the game situation is so they know when they should go in or look to go in. I don’t want them thinking about whether it is their “shift”, or whether they are getting enough playing time, etc.

The more players that we can have contributing, the better I like it. I want to fall in love with the team, not individual players. You never know who might be ready to move up a notch unless you look.

In order for me to be in the moment as a coach I have to find the delicate balance of trust and taking chances. I am definitely ready to give a couple of our young players some bigger opportunities.

Thursday, March 8, 2001

I must admit that if there is a place where the distractions are infinite and my mind could be derailed temporarily from its usual March train of lacrosse thought, it would be Las Vegas. Every place has a no windows, no clock decor, and it is like there is a spot light everywhere you look, beckoning. The world of Vegas is a fascinating spectacle of human diversity. The appetite for more seems insatiable here.

I am in Las Vegas looking at a business investment. This place has exploded. It has become a major metropolis in the last several years.

I don’t usually do very well gambling, and once again proved my lack of medal by losing $70 in about one hour tonight on slots and poker. I have about $25 worth of quarters in a cup on the dresser, and I’m sure that they will end up in a push button bandit before I leave.

“Gambling” or going for something based on a gut feeling is something that I much prefer to do in a coaching situation. Many of my greatest rewards in coaching have come from “taking a chance” on an individual who really believed in himself. Putting a player in a situation you are not sure he is ready for can be a gamble, but if he steps up, then the “payoff” feels much better to me than anything Las Vegas has to offer me.

A couple of the players are out here for break, and we had dinner last night. I always like hangin’ with my boys. I can’t wait to get back on the practice field. I’m hoping we will start to get some nice weather and have some “normal” type practices. Everything became so frantic before break, as I had not enough time on the practice field, and there was much to get in. It will stay light a little later now, and that will help, too.

Everyone will be ready to go Monday. They will need to be, because, as a team, we need to stretch much farther and higher to than we thought we would have to in order achieve what we want to this year. Our room for error is small, and after the game in Provo last Saturday, that is something that has become clear to everyone.

My focus for the upcoming two weeks of practices is to define roles, and for us to specialize in certain situations, which will create more roles. I want them to be thinking about what the game situation is so they know when they should go in or look to go in. I don’t want them thinking about whether it is their “shift”, or whether they are getting enough playing time, etc.

The more players that we can have contributing, the better I like it. I want to fall in love with the team, not individual players. You never know who might be ready to move up a notch unless you look.

In order for me to be in the moment as a coach I have to find the delicate balance of trust and taking chances. I am definitely ready to give a couple of our young players some bigger opportunities.

Wednesday, March 14, 2001

Because of a modem problem in my lap top I have been unable to make a journal entry for the last 6 days.

Monday’s practice, our first day back from break, was educational, stimulating and fun. We worked for about an hour, and then as a team we watched the BYU game on tape. Then we went and did 4 on 4 in the field house for an hour and a half. We topped it off with pizza at one of the captain’s house. We were together for 5 hours. I liked it and may continue a similar Monday routine.

The tape session was fantastic, and I’m sure a little painful for many. I took my own television down to campus so I would have the pause, slow motion capabilities that I need. We disected, especially on defense. I think it was clear to all that execution, especially on defense was the biggest problem against BYU. Intensity was also not where it needs to be. Most importantly, individuals could really see on tape what they need to do in specific kinds of situations. We are all about getting better every day.

Thursday, March 15, 2001

Cal Berkeley went to Provo the other day and did what we could not, beat BYU on national TV at South Field. Cal played good defense, sound and tight. BYU star Steve Austin still got his share, but they did a great job of controlling the other Cougars in a fairly easy 14-10 win.

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They have late night Survivor updates on CBS, but it all happened months ago, right? I can’t tell where the Mason Dixon Line of fantasy and reality is anymore. The entire future will be on dvd.

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This has been a fairly stressful past two weeks. I was really disappointed with the way I prepared the team for BYU, and I’ve been thinking about that way too much. Ultimately we needed more practices.

I went to Las Vegas to look into an investment I’ve made that doesn’t look very good on paper. How ironic that I of all people, could end up with a hunk of burning cash in Vegas.

When I was in Las Vegas, My 17 year old son, Michael, decided to have what he calls a “get together” for 60 or 70 of his closest friends. This after months of me pounding away at this subject, trying to teach him that 10 or 15 is okay to have over, but more is not. So now I feel like I can’t leave home until he is like 30.

The hot water heater died. Three days later the heating system in my house sort of exploded and spewed water all over the place. As I speak, we have no heat. My wife has the flu, and I went to the doctor yesterday as I have not been able to shake this “cold”.for a few weeks. It became stressful when she started using words like pneumonia and hospital. Before I knew it both of my butt cheeks had been poked with large doses of antibiotics, and I was prescribed a cornucopia of stuff I have to take. I can’t talk, but I can yell. The weather is still very cold and that doesn’t help.

On top of all this, I am in the middle of moving my business and my office to the new home of Rock-it Pocket. Thankfully, I am now sitting in my new office. This is my first entry that I’ve made while sitting at my new “desk”.

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Now that I’ve whined about stuff that has nothing to do with lacrosse, perhaps it is time to get back to the lacrosse part of life.

My emphasis has shifted to defense in the few practices we’ve had since BYU. They have all been good practices. A few guys came back from spring break with some sort of cold or flu, but mostly they are fresh. In focusing on D I do a lot of teaching. Sometimes I just blow the whistle (in the middle of action), to get them to freeze, so we can look at exactly where everyone is. When I do this they often try to scurry back into good position when they are not, like I won’t notice, but it is always a great way to make a point anyway.

We have also been playing defense with no sticks and things like that as well. In my opinion, you play defense with your feet and your heart. The stick is not for whacking, it is for control. Of course, you always have to use your head in everything you do on the field, but on defense in our system the brain is the key to survival. The beauty is that it is easy to make good choices in the way we play, too. I have to teach ever mo better.

CSU Rams 2001 Team Photo
2001 Colorado State Rams Lacrosse Team

 

Friday, March 16, 2001

Tomorrow, St. Patty’s Day, we play Regis Jesuit University. They are in recovery from a bad addiction to Division II varsity lacrosse, and now are back to club, which is where they belong. Since they are starting over, I am not sure what we will get. They mght have some “scholarship” talent left over, but either way I want to start going after every opponent in the same way. Of course it is supposed to snow tonight. Springtime in Colorado is always an adventure in weather phenomenon.

Next week we are off to Michigan. They play in a “dome.” As long as we get there the games should go off..

I had to be true to my convictions, and so I said that anyone who has paid his full dues and wants to go, can. I just felt that if we are a family, then we are. I explained how many will not set foot on the field in Michigan. There will be no “easy games” on this trip. It is strictly business.

In practice I am trying to establish mind sets for different parts of the game. I want to come out in every game and show the other team that we are mistake free, and they can’t wait or force us to implode. We are breathing as a team and setting a tone. That is the first quarter.

We have often been a strong second quarter team, probably because we often start slow. I want to see what we could do if we really came out and played a great first quarter.

Halftime has everything to do with the third quarter, naturally. Sometimes I wish we could keep playing instead of resting for 10 minutes. I often don’t have ten minutes worth of stuff to say. Sometimes I make adjustments, sometimes I don’t. I have a feeling that I will be making more as the season gets deep. It is important that they (players) give me good information at the half We must come out of halftime energized. Often we do things to keep the blood flowing and intensity high during the half, like drills and running. Halftime can be magic. I wish I knew the exact formula, because I’d bottle and sell it.

For the fourth quarter my key word is “FINISH”. We must be conditioned mentally and physically to soar in the 4th. Not cruise, not hold on, but be relentless. The team game must be in complete sync to really finish the game right.

2001 CSU Lacrosse Captains

 

Saturday, March 17, 2001

News flash: it snowed overnight, just enough to force the university to close the fields (I think we could play, but they don’t pay me to think. Wait a minute. They don’t pay me at all.). Fortunately, the coach is clarvoyant and about two months ago reserved the “astroturf” field at Denver University for this Monday, compliments of their very gracious head lacrosse coach, Jamie Munro. So we will (in that perfect world) have a night game on turf Monday before we go to Michigan on Thursday; exactly what I wanted in the first place.

On Monday, we will practice for 45 minutes, maybe watch a few minutes of tape, and then off to Denver. The trip is only an hour or so, depending on traffic, and we will take our own cars. The game starts at 6:30.

We had a great week of practice, working on turning our lemons into lemonade. It was almost like watching a different team. There is new energy. I think the learning curve has widened since we watched the BYU tape together. We know now that we just can’t show up and overwhelm anybody with our individual talent. Everyone knows our true talent is inside us as a team. We still need to be better conditioned.

Friday was “fun Friday”, which is their way of saying, “We don’t want to run”. I have no idea where this all came from. To them fun Friday means that I am not allowed to get too cranky, but it also gives a different feel to practice, not an altogether bad thing. This happens for them every Friday, but only occasionally for me, yesterday definitely qualifying as a fun Friday. I let them wing balls at the goalies and put up with their wrestling matches, rationalizing it for myself as good conditioning for them.

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I have reconfigured our lines and our substitution system. I am going back to a system I used in my past that puts players in at specific times or situations. I will take much more control of who is in the game. It won’t just be a simple rotation. Seniority will have very little to do with anything. They have to know exactly when they are supposed to be on the field. This system is much more inclusive in a way, because I have added roles. We will use more players, even in big games. This also makes everyone pay attention to situations.

I am the dealer and the cards I am dealing have playing minutes on their faces (too much time in Vegas). I have started looking at it like, for example, their are 180 minutes of playing time in a game for the three defensemen. I can ration that time for as many players as I want, like 4 or 5. If all the starters play 55 minutes, which is virtually the entire game, I still have 15 minutes of time to give to another player who is a good player, but is just not a starter.

I use line names like Earth, Wind, and Fire (child of the 70’s) as attack lines. For example, the starters today were to be: Red Face-Fire-Wall . Red Face is a midfield face-off line. Fire is one of the attack lines, and Wall is a line of defense. It is actually kind of fun. Most importantly, it gives me a lot control during the game.

We reset team goals last week. One of the three majors is to improve our team speed. It is a tremendous concept for them to keep collectively in my opinion. This road to a goal will take you through many facets of the game.

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We have our faults, but we never quit. We never feel we are out of a game or a season.

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I wish I knew more about these three excellent teams we play next week in Michigan. We play Texas Friday night at 9:00. Then we get Michigan Saturday night. The Wolverines are #4, and probably will move ahead of us to #3 in the USLIA poll on Wednesday They spanked some Division 1 team ten days ago or so. They will be fast, good, and at home, not to mention well coached. I know he has the tape of us against BYU. Sunday afternoon we Play #5 Sonoma State of California. Quite a grueling weekend survival exercise.

I am looking at The Michigan Invitational as a tournament, even though it is not meant to be one. The games are scheduled not bracketed.. If we win Friday, the way I see it, we are in the semis, and if we are good enough to beat Michigan, then Sonoma would be for the championship.

2001 Senior Class

 

Monday, March 19, 2001

Well, I never would think I think I could be so distraught after beating a team, Regis, 19-0, but that is the way I feel. It is like we are just missing something, and unless I miss my mark, that thing is hunger. I read them the riot act at halftime. When we play hard we are so much fun to watch, and I think we can beat anybody.

We are not playing like we really want something, we are playing like we just want to have fun and play. I want to have fun and play, too, but I also want something big to play for, because if we don’t have something we want, like championships, then I’m happy to go back to Santa Barbara and coach 9th graders. They have fun, and I get paid. The weather is perfect every day. I also am treated like they are honored to have me at Cate School, something I never feel from this University. To them I am just another “club” coach. The fact that I put countless hours and thousands of my own dollars doesn’t make me any different from the Ultimate frisbee coach or whatever. The fact that many quality kids want to come to CSU to play lacrosse doesn’t even get me a parking pass. When I came here, the people that played on the lacrosse team for the most part were kids that got here, heard there was lacrosse, and then played. Now I get e-mails and phone calls almost daily from kids that are dying to play college lacrosse

I never said that I was the master of positive thinking. Dale Carnegie is not my hero. What the hell did he ever win? It is not the way I work. If they want a coach to say nice things to them all the time, and say, “that’s okay Bobby, just try harder next time” when they drop the ball, then they got the wrong guy. It’s not me. I am demanding, and what I want is to watch something pretty, because this game is beautiful to watch when it is played with skill and heart. When we play with skill and heart, I jump for joy. They have seen me do it, although it may be rare. If a kid who can barely play catches the ball in an intense situation, I will go hug him. That’s not what I am talking about. I am talking about making a supreme EFFORT to catch every ball by players who have played the game for 10 years. I am talking about picking up a ground ball and running for your life, cradling as hard as you can, then find somebody; not pick it up and try to do something fancy before someone whacks you. I am talking about just move the ball and look until the defense makes a little mistake and you can really create something, not cramming a feed inside the first chance we get.

We need to really look at the right stuff. Here is a metaphor for opportunity that I’ve always used, maybe because I grew up on a dairy farm in Pennsylvania: when you drive on a country road past a corn field in July when the corn is getting tall and it’s still all green, you see two things when you look at the field. The first thing is a big bunch of corn, an infinite mass of plants. The second is a fleeting second when you can look down the row and clearly see what is on the other side of the field. Lacrosse is extremely intense, with people coming at you from all directions all the time. You have to really be in the game mentally to see and make use of these fleeting moments when you can see clearly. If you don’t do something during that instant when you can see the lane, it will be gone, but take heart for there will be another. Right now we are not seeing that lane very clearly, and we don’t show the patience to wait for the next one.

One reason I am so demanding is that I only demand simple things, like moving to the ball when you want it, rather than moving to where you ultimately want to go, like the goal. I say it every day, and there are people who still look at me like it is some concept that only a genius could understand. To me it seems like a simple concept, and therefore I demand it. I don’t make them learn a lot of fancy plays, I want flow and freedom. I don’t want to burden them. I want them to play free with a few simple fundamentals as the base.

I am also tired of players that worry about how much time on the field they get, etc. If you want more time all you have to do in my system is make me feel like I don’t want you out of the game. There is no seniority in the way I coach, and I’m sorry if that doesn’t sit well with some, and if it is not the CSU lacrosse tradition. I may be mistaken, but before I got here the CSU lacrosse tradition seemed to be: hardly ever show up to practice, and win or lose, we booze. That is not the way I think, and it never will be. Practice means everything to me.

Make the most of every second you are on the field, then come out and get ready to do it again

I want to end up in Missouri in May. Missouri is the “show me” state. I am the “show me” coach.

Wednesday, March 21, 2001

We leave for Michigan tomorrow evening. We get in late, but thank goodness we are flying. I don’t know what to do with the journal while I am gone. I like to write while on line, but from hotels I’ve been racking up some big numbers on long distance charges. There has to be a better way, some kind of phone card where you don’t end up paying $8 a minute hotel charges. I suppose I could write off-line, and then just upload once. Oh, what to do.

I was on line Sunday, finding out about the teams we play. I am certainly apprehensive. All three teams we play are unbeaten. Sonoma is probably #1 by now after beating Cal who beat BYU who beat you know who. Before that we have Texas, who is #16 Friday, and Michigan Saturday, and they are #3 or 4, I’m not sure. The poll comes out today, and anyways the whole USLIA seems all topsy turvy right now. Plenty of chance for someone to emerge. Can you say, “Ram-page”? I hope we can go on one this weekend.

By the way, I don’t buy in to that who beat who stuff. Every game is new and fresh and live. The key is to get the whole team live, too.

We are a little banged up, with some nagging ankles and bruised shoulders.

I have so many parking tickets now that I’m thinking maybe they could just send me a bill for the semester.

Thursday, March 22, 2001

We had a lot of stuff going on for such a short week. Monday night I blew a gasket at halftime against Regis (They probably were taking bets on if I would just have a heart attack and croak right there). Tuesday and Wednesday we had some good player/coach interaction, some of it passionate, and a couple of real strong practices. Who knows, we may even have an offensive “play” or two in place soon. We are still behind other teams in overall practice time but we are on the come.

It is unusual for us to have quality practices before a big trip, but it is what I always wanted. It is unbelievably difficult to play well for three games in three days, but we can do this. I know we can. I feel like we are starting to blossom. The fruit is on the way.

We are in hot water with the university because one of our alumni got a beer sponsor for our fundraising schedule/poster which is a nice poster by the way, and since they are trying to confiscate them, sure to be a collector’s item. I have a couple of questions. My first one is: Is it true that we cannot get any signifigant money from the university, but we have to follow all their rules on how we can raise money? The answer seems to be yes. My other question is: Don’t people in the 21st century have better things to do than run around being the “politically correct vigilantes” who report everything that they perceive to be an impropriety to the highest possible authority without learning what is really going on first? The answer to that is apparently no.

After daylight savings time comes about, we will move practice to a 4:00 start. The parking Nazis go home at 4. Take that stress from my life and the sky is the limit. By the way, I have no intention of ever paying for all the tickets that somehow ended up on MY windshield. Surely they meant to give them to someone else.

Friday, March 23, 2001

United was only 1 and a half hours late. All the players got to the airport on time. All of the bags except one of our trainer’s bags got to Detroit, so all things considered we are here safely and in one piece. Always a relief for me. Everyone on the plane thought we were so organized and gentleman-like in our new team traveling polo shirts. The flight attendants were so charmed that they asked me if it was okay to give free alcohol to the ones who were 21 (thanks for the help, lady). I politely declined as we have a no drinking on airplane rule. I explained that 21 is an ambiguous concept since they all have multiple and high quality fake id’s anyway. I am fortunate to have a player that we all call Charlie Brown. We call him Charlie Brown because he is a good man to have around. Thanks to his mother’s United Airlines connections, yours truly ended up in the front row, first class. Thanks, Mike..

I used to preach all the time about not drinking, because I truly believe that it will affect your playing performance in a negative way. However, in 4+ years I have made exactly no impact on them in that area. I stopped. You might say that when it comes to telling them when or when not to drink I am on the wagon. I have not, nor do I plan on saying one word on this subject for this entire season. They know what we have to do to get ready. I must help, but I must also trust.

We got to the hotel at 2:30 a.m., which is really only 12:30 Colorado time. Tonight we play Texas at 9:00, which will be like 7:00 for us. We will go early and watch the early game, as we play both teams playing in that one this weekend.

That first game will pit newly voted #1 Sonoma State vs. host and new #2 Michigan. We will not be the marquis matchup for a change, as we have dropped to #5 in the polls, which seems to thrill this CSU team, and truthfully, I like it, too. Make no mistake, though, if we don’t do well this weekend, we will drop like a stone. We have everything to gain and plenty to lose. The stakes are high. The Michigan coach, John Paul, is looking like a scheduling wizzard with his choice of teams to invite to Michigan this weekend.

It’s hard to believe, but this old dog has never been to Ann Arbor. I feel like I have, growing up with my father (Ohio State alum) watching OSU play Michigan in front of 102,000 in AnnArbor, back when that game was often the football “game of the year”, even though then, as now, OSU almost always choked. Better coaches at UM.

We are all very excited to see if we can play better than we did in Utah. I’m excited because from a coaching standpoint, while perhaps we are all not yet on the exact same page, I feel like now we are all at least reading from the same book.

We had a great little practice in “Anklesprain Park” this afternoon near the motel. Fortunately we didn’t (sprain any ankles), and we even put in a new thing or two for the weekend and this field we are playing on. We upset a small “community” with our van invasion. An awful lot of people seemed to have Friday off.

Saturday, March 24, 2001

We beat Texas, 16-3. They were a scrappy team, and fundamentally sound, but we just had too much We are communicating as a team better and better.

Michigan creamed Sonoma in the early game. The game was over in the first quarter. So much for being #1.

Now comes our next challenge; Michigan on their home turf, tonight at 8.

We ran hard last night, and our defense was very solid. I know we can play better, and I think we get better all the time.

We got excellent play from our middies, and everyone is starting to know their role. Everyone except our starting goalie got to playgainst Texas. . He’ll be plenty busy tomorrow.

The indoor facility at Michigan is just fantastic. They had cheerleaders, paying customers, the whole bit. These trips are great experience and experiences. The field is excellent, the nicest thing this old country boy has ever seen. It’s like grass, only fake. It’s grass that you can’t mess up. You can wear almost any kind of shoe. It’s about time. They landed on the moon over 30 years ago. I’m sure it cost a fortune. The field is for football, and therefore a tad narrow, but that was fun thinking about, too I found myself wishing that I would have had a chance to play on something like this when I was young. When I played artificial surface was just green carpet.

A couple of our players live here in Michigan, and the parents of one gave us a great brunch today, overlooking the lake in Brighton.. That is where I am typing from right now. I love the parental support we get. The catered food was to die for, too. Thanks to the Naabs. I must admit that I have a little crush on mom Naab.

Sunday a.m., March 24, 25 2001

Right now I am feeling very proud to be the lacrosse coach at Colorado State University. We barely resemble the team that we were two weeks ago. I think we accomplished a lot tonight. We came to Ann Arbor and played a very good game against Michigan, a great team, in their own “house”, and we won 11-8. We held a team that had virtually ended all their previous games by the end of the first quarter to only 2 first quarter goals, and I must admit that once we did that I liked our chances.

Make no mistake that the star of this game was our team, and particularly the way we played defense. Our spirit was large and our heart was huge. To a man we think we can get better every day, every time we play. I thought we dictated the game tonight from the beginning, something you always want to do as a coach. I must admit that as much as I love winning a big game at home in front of a good crowd and all that, for me there is nothing quite like beating a good team in their home environment. The Oosterban Center remained a pretty quiet building tonight.

Our bench was phenominal. I am talking about people who never set foot on the field during the actual game. The team energy was there all night. We had a very signifigant hip injury early on to our freshman star defenseman, but we really picked it up and moved on after we lost him, meanwhile he became a cheerleader, too. That was his role tonight.

It was as much of a total team, four quarter effort as we’ve had in a while. Plus, we have this rabbit from Minnesota, and the hounds couldn’t catch him tonight.

Our preparation as a team is something we all share in now. We have some good pre-game meetings. Today’s was excellent. We believed in what we were doing and it showed. We are also very used to and like the traveling. This is a crucial factor.
Having said all of this, I think I can speak for all of us when I say that we must get one more tomorrow for this trip to be successful. Sonoma will be a huge challenge. They are technically ranked #1, although they did lose to UM big last night after their sticks were lost the day before by the airlines. They have them back now, and I’m sure they will be ready. We have played them twice in the past, winning one and losing one over the past two years. It will be a tough game, and our rest time will be only about 19 hours between games. The question is if we have some left. I think we do.
I am a little worried about tomorrow because I focused a lot on the road leading up to the Michigan game and playing Michigan, and not the game after vs. Sonoma, and now the Cossacks come in here #1, something I didn’t expect either. The new coaching staff transition would appear to be seamless. Plus, if they could beat us now, after we beat Michigan, they could be right back near the top. There was plenty of motivation for them.

Three games is farther ahead than I can think, anyway, so I’m not sure what I would change if given a second chance. Three games in three days is a marathon.

We need to be versatile and resilient in many areas over the long season, and we need to deal with different opponents in very different ways. The level of the opposition gets better, too, no matter how much we improve.

Monday, March 26, 2001

When I got to the office late this afternoon I had 35 phone messages just from the weekend and Monday morning. I had only neglected my e-mail for about 36 hours. Still, there were 19 of them. So what did I do? I sat down to write in my journal instead of finding out who most needs my undivided attention. “I yam what I yam and that’s all that I yam”. Popeye, on the other hand, has always been my hero.

Our UNITED AIRLINES plane had a stuck cargo door. It was stuck for exactly 2 hours. Do they have any idea how much goes into getting 40 CSU lacrosse players out of bed at 6:00 a.m.? They did treat us like the conquerers returning home after a great victory, so that was good. No first class this time, though. It was good to see so many of the players making good use of the extra down time in the airport by replenishing their minerals with a V-8 juice and celery concoction purchased with airline vouchers given out because of the delay..

By the time I got home, the day was awaning. We were greeted by snow when we landed in Denver. In this year I would expect nothing less.

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What a day, what a game yesterday. The weather outside became absolutely frigid. We pulled one out over Sonoma inside, 8-6, but it certainly did not come cheaply or easily. Our record is now 7-1.

We scored the last 4 goals of the game, all in the 4th.. It was 6-4 SSU after 3 quarters. Four goals in three quarters! I kept thinking we would go off, but when? Those 4 goals down the stretch were ones we scrapped and worked hard for as a team, not one on one’s or easy fast breaks.

This Sonoma game was a war, and in our case a big part of the war was the one of attrition. The day was supercharged with emotion, but didn’t have the aesthetics of the game we were in the night before (This was not pretty). It is definitely more difficult to see in the daytime in there, too. John Paul told me it would be. There are windows that allow in a distracting light at the level of vision for many passes.

The game atmosphere was strange. They were the #1 but somehow I felt like they, Sonoma, were the ones charged for and planning an upset. We didn’t play very crisply at all. We had been resting up, not working on a game plan. We had spent all of ourselves on the field just 19 hours before.

We had a player foul out with five personal fouls against Sonoma, and coacher here didn’t quite tune in quick enough. I have never had a player foul out before. I only have seen it once. If I actually had a brain I might have noticed a trend and said something brilliant like, “Hey $#@%*head, you got three fouls. Knock it off!” I must say it all happened amazingly fast. Two were called on one play. He was gone by mid third quarter. When the ref informed me pleasantly of the “five foul” situation (out) of my all American twice defenseman, I didn’t even know who to get mad at, so I didn’t. I just moved on. It seemed “par for the course” today.

So there we were, with freshman star D-man in civies dragging his hip around the sideline like Festus from the old Gunsmoke show of the 50’s, complete with lip full of chew and all, and the all American is standing on the sidelines, helmet off, as far from me as he can get. Now we would see if we had depth. The first player who went in for the one injured last night already knew that this would be his role. He has already shown that he can step in. He did it again. The second choice, who to replace all america boy with was more of an Eanie, Meanie, Miney, or Moe deal. So I went with Curly. It was a Maalox moment. Curly did fine.

The game was a wrestling match. They (Noma) won a lot of face-offs. We made it hard for them to score, but threw the ball away or dropped it far too often our own selves. We FINISHed, though, something we talk about a lot. I told them after the game that I didn’t think we had much of anything during the game, except heart, and we had just enough of that one more time. I was proud of them again, but in a much different way.

I think they (refs) call a lot more technical (30 second fouls) in Division I on plays that often are called personals (one minute) by our USLIA officials. There is no five foul rule for technical fouls. I do not whine very much about officials, so I won’t do it now. That’s all I have to say about the officiating this weekend.

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We have some really key people who are injured now, and I don’t just mean hurting. They need some time off for rehab. It was a grueling three days. A few won’t dress for practice for up to 10 days. I hope that will be enough time. This is the “meat” of our season.

I haven’t been involved in games with scores on the low side like the last two against Michigan and Sonoma for a long while. I really enjoy watching us when we play the kind of defense we did this weekend. The goal tending was excellent as well.

This week had been a pivotal week for me. I got over an emotional hump with two or three of my players, as well as my 17 year old son, but it took a struggle with each one, and now I feel refreshed within those relationships. This is the closest team I’ve ever coached. Mike is finding his role for his team as well. It is my dream to coach my son. If he could just find his books a little more often…….

We all went to Bennigan’s after the last game. Thanks to the Krcek’s for picking up the tab. I hope lots of families come if we go to St. Louis in May. I am grateful to all the people that came out to support us in Michigan.

Speaking of St. Louis, we certainly didn’t win anything this weekend, but I think we served notice to both ourselves and to others that we might have a chance to win something at some point. One game at a time, one play at a time..

Tuesday, March 27, 2001

I made a couple of little deals over the weekend. The first was with the director of Sonoma lacrosse. Both of us had played in our dark road uniforms twice, and we both wanted to wear white for our Sunday game. I offered that if we beat Michigan on Saturday night, that we would wear white, and if we lost we would wear our stinky greens. He agreed. We wore white on Sunday, so that was a good thing.

The other was late Saturday night, after we had beaten Michigan; a few players came to me and asked that if we won all three games, then could we be off until Wednesday. We weren’t practicing Monday no matter what, and now that Cal had cancelled their trip to Colorado this week, this was a deal I was eager to make, too, a win win. So we have today off, and we all are scrambling to get caught up. The trip was worth whatever I have to do this week to catch up in real life again.

Tomorrow it is back to work, but I know we will have to adjust to these injuries for a while, and practice will change, and so must my expectations for the week.

What did I bring home from the Michigan trip? Besides good memories, I hope they are all still nonbelievers out there and don’t rank us #1. Our biggest enemy is us without hunger. I hate it when they (we) tell each other how good we are. I love it when they talk about how good they can be, and how to get there.

How do I assess what took place? We are a very difficult team to score on in even situations right now. I want that to be who we are, a major part of our identity. Now, we must limit our penalties. It is hard. We never work on checking techniques because I don’t want to whack. I want to go after people with our hands, not our sticks. Yet they all have that innate urge to whack something with a stick. If we could limit our penalties, then there would be NO LIMIT!

I don’t expect to get rid of all penalties, just stupid ones.

I now have 5 quality tapes of BYU playing 5 top 15 teams, all made by BYU TV. Thanks. This is a resource I have never had before. They should come in handy going into the stretch drive where we could end up playing most or all of these teams.

Thursday, March 29, 2001

The days are going by too fast, and there aren’t enough hours in them to begin with. Winter seems to be turning to spring. The snow has been changed to rain and sleet mixed with snow. Now we get into that classic Colorado weird weather time of year. What was that we just finished? I am confused by meteorlogical trends this year, and amazed at how much this year reminds me of living in Alaska, even though I personally have never actually been to Alaska. I just saw the movie McCabe and Mrs. Miller a few times

Anyway, we probably could have had practice today, but I looked at all the variables, and decided that more things could go wrong today than ever could possibly go right. We met, briefly bonded, and dispersed. We will reconvene in 20 minutes for dinner at Panino’s. One of the more amusing players accused me of cancelling practice just so I could go write in my journal. The thing is that without him and his kind there is no journal. I am not sorry I cancelled practice today. We are healing right now. I am not a wuss. Didn’t Richard Nixon first say that?

WE ARE NOT IN GOOD ENOUGH CONDITION yet! Tomorrow, Friday, will not be fun Friday or taper day. We haven’t had a real practice this week. We need one tomorrow.

I pray that we can have a good on field practice Friday and the game on Saturday. Our games with Fort Lewis have some kind of Boston Red Sox sized weather hex going on. It is almost impossible to get our games in with them. They drove all the way up here from Durango once, and then they (CSU field czars) wouldn’t let us play on their precious pasture. I think the Skyhawks might still be mad about that. I wouldn’t blame them.

I am off to Vail to see my ortho and get a shot in my knee in hopes that it will help me hobble through the rest of the season.

Friday, March 30, 2001

I hate to keep talking about the weather, but I’ve never seen a winter quite like this in all my years in Colorado. Practice started today with the promise of a warm spring day. This was at 3:30. It was warm, a little breezy, almost sunny, and then boom! something happened. The Arctic express came at us full force, and by 5:30 it was Frostbite Falls. It is blowing and snowing as I write this Friday night. Just whether we play or not goes down to the wire every day. This is not good for my peace of mind. I need a piece of astroturf. I NEVER thought I would utter those words in my lifetime. Now I’ve said it twice. We shall see if we can play tomorrow’s game tomorrow.

We are beat up. Two starters are definitely out for the weekend. Another prime timer is a walking advertisements for Nyquil. He has every symptom in the cold and flu spectrum, but most signifigantly, he has a fever. We will need to suck it up and play a little more carefully this weekend. Our extra man offense should be an interesting Smorgasboard.

We play Fort Lewis tomorrow, Saturday in Fort Collins. They are a borderline top 25 team, so they probably think they can beat us. If we don’t play hard, they could. The Skyhawks will be sky high. I’m sure they have been busy planning their Waterloo. This is a league game, and will clarify our road for the RMILL championships, although I think I already have a pretty good idea what the seeds will look like for late April in Durango, site of the RMILL playoffs.

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If we got our team motor going in Michigan last week, and I think we did, then we are pulled over for a few repairs now. Any momentum we might have gained at the Invitational is a memory. . Right now our engine is “missing” a few major parts, and we need a couple new spark plugs. Okay, enough with the whole Michigan/car metaphor thing. Sometimes I can’t help myself.

We are not ready to peak. We have just begun. We have a long way to go. I need spring to spring. We need the bears to come out of their caves. Right now I’m pretty sure they all hit the snooze button and rolled over. We need quality practice time to get quality conditioning. I’m tired of battling the elements. How about this: You win Mother Nature, now give me one sunny day in the 60″s.

Monday we will start practices at 4:00. My birthday is coming up, so is the baseball season (that was carefully planned by my mother), so why can’t we have a little of that “Easter bonnet” weather? Pretty please?

Saturday, March 31, 2001

I cannot believe that March is over. It finally became a lamb on its final day. It’s like being a golfer, which I have been off and on during the course of my lifetime. Just when I am about to chuck my clubs in the lake I hit a sweet seven iron within 4 feet, and I’m in love again. Well today was like that, only weather. It started with snow on the ground, but by 2:00 it was easy to forget that the weather had ever been bad.

We won, I think 21-8. We just methodically pulled away, and then we had a couple of spurts. They had a couple of good players, but in this spring of 2001 Fort Lewis cannot beat us. It is doubtful that we will play them again this season.

We had a horrifying 14 penalties. That is almost one every four minutes. We were offsides twice. One usually pretty much guarantees me having a minor tantrum, but two!! Right now we have the whack, hack, and trips, and I fear that it is spreading. They (players) look at me as they come off for a slashing penalty like it is all the refs fault, so I’m partly to blame here. Maybe I need to send my messages to the officials in a kinder, gentler way.

Also, every time we got a penalty today, there were all these little voices in my ear saying, “Coach that’s two on him”, etc. Thanks, where were you all last Sunday? This is not a trend I’m enjoying. I’m doing something wrong here, because our practices are neat and tidy with barely a whack, very Dr. Jekyll, but come game time we change into Mr. Hyde with a six foot titanium pole.

I’m going to have to go into my little medicine bag of coaching remedies and see what I’ve got. We have a bad case of WHACKANDHACKITIS. I think I have some SITDOWNacillin somewhere, which usually knocks it out of them pretty quick. If that doesn’t work I also have some RUNozac, which when taken in large doses by the whole team simply wears them all into submission until they no longer have the will to whack and do other less than clever things. They’ll be needing that super blue green algae just to get through practice.

One of our juniors scored his first career goal today. That was fantastic, and so was the way the rest of the team got fired up for him. A lot of guys got some extended playing time today, but in general I as coach don’t take much from or think much about these types of games. They just are, and I figure if I’m not too cranky afterward then it’s all good. For some individuals these kind of games are great for their growth as players.

Tomorrow we play Colorado School of Mines at home. It is not a league game. We already won the league game with them way back when. Ten or twelve players will not even dress. None of the seniors will play at all. In fact, I will be an assistant I think. We shall see if I am capable of letting others drive.

2001 CSU Rams in Michigan

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