“Win, lose, no matter.”
That was the line spoken by Mr. Miyagi to Daniel Laruso after Daniel had taken a illegal chop to the knee in the movie “The Karate Kid.”
For the Chippewa Lady Chipps, who came into Classic in the Country XIII undefeated, the final scores and the fact that they lost two games was not of vital importance. As Mr. Miyagi told Daniel, win, lose, no matter.
What did matter the most to Denny Schrock and his team was that they got a chance to face some incredibly talented competition, and came away from this 20-game, three-day bonanza better for it.
Creating a learning experience in which teams can grow, improve and work on their game is a huge part of why Tom Jenkins tries to create CitC match-ups that pit contrasting styles of play against one another, along with making entertaining and challenging match-ups. Jenkins has always said, the idea is to create a scenario in which teams can learn and get better, another key concept at CitC.
Chippewa got both, and Schrock said the experience from the weekend was invaluable.
“We want to get better from these games, and play great competition, and we come right back down here next Monday (to face a mighty Hiland program).”
Chippewa opened up the hoops showcase with an ugly performance against a Tecumseh team that could do no wrong. While the 70-46 loss to Tecumseh was every bit as unattractive as the score would indicate for Chippewa, it didn’t phase Schrock in the slightest. Then when his team came back and played a much better game versus a team the caliber of Alter, the marked improvement was something Schrock and the Chipps could build on moving forward.
“I know what kind of team we have,” said Schrock following his team’s loss to Alter. “Some people might doubt us, but we have a good basketball team. I knew my team would come back and compete (against Alter, the defending Div. II state champion which came into the game 13-2).”
Schrock said the crucial piece to take away from CitC is not the winning and losing, but finding those golden nuggets of wisdom that will make a team better in the long run.
For his group, it was seeing them come back on back-to-back nights and square off with a program that is one of the most highly respected in the state, and fight them toe-to-toe for 32 minutes.
It was seeing his team respond to the challenge to rebound and fight for possessions off of misses, and realizing that they needed to work on their inbound plays.
For a Chippewa team coming off of a Div. III state runner performance last year, the CitC was a golden opportunity to get better so they can hopefully get right back to Columbus.
“Areas we are going to work on, we will get the ball inbounds better, I assure you that. Offensively, we need to work on some things to get better, but that is what these games are for. I thought we did a much better job (against Alter) of getting the ball up the floor better against some great pressure. My point guard did a heck of a job. We got the ball up the court and got settled in better. Yesterday, I thought our offense was more disrupted than it was today. Those are the things you have to do against teams like this if you want to get to Columbus.”
He also saw his team make Alter work extremely hard on the offensive end of the floor, limiting Alter to a paltry 28 percent shooting night.
Schrock said they talked to the team about getting out of their normal fast-paced game and slow things down to keep the game in the 40s. They accomplished that mission. They forced Alter into a poor shooting night, the Lady Knights shooting an ugly 27 percent from the floor.
As for his team’s dismal performance against Tecumseh, Schrock shrugged it off as part of the game of basketball.
“I don’t think we played very well, but you know what, the Cleveland Cavaliers don’t play great every day. It happens.”
He was more focused on talking up the defensive effort his team put forth against Alter, and said seeing that kind of effort, against a pair of physical teams, is a lesson for his team that will pay dividends when they face tough, physical teams in tournament play.
Like so many coaches who come to Classic in the Country, the key is not always a victory, although that is nice. Teams want to be challenged when they come, and the CitC provides opportunities to find shortcomings, work on them and improve as a team.
“I’m thrilled to be here, win or lose,” said Schrock. “I hope we get invited back every year. That means we have a pretty doggone good basketball team. We played two excellent basketball teams. We were forced to play some defenses that we never play. We worked on the triangle-and-two in the conference room at our hotel. It can only help us. We now have seven or eight regular season games and the tournament to continue to get better, and this experience goes a long way in allowing us to do just that.”