Short and sweet this week, kind of an apt description on Valentine’s Day!
On a day where we all express our love for something or someone, no doubt coaches across the league are hoping good times are ahead of them between now and the end of August.
Reading recent reports and updates from clubs, it appears all teams are now back up and running, either heads down and bums up at training and/or picking up a practice match here and there to hone their plans ahead of the season proper.
Pre-season games are an interesting time, depending of course on what it is you are looking for. However, take note, when it comes to a practice match result you are best advised to take little notice. Those who read too much into a win or loss usually end up with egg on their face if they decide to use the result as a guide to how the season will pan out.
Every coach I know treats a pre-season game as just that, a pre-season game. Depending on where players are at with regards to their preparation for the season ahead, quite often we don’t get to see teams at their absolute best. Rarely do we get to see a full team, rather there always tends to be someone missing. Maybe even a few players are MIA.
In fact, just like the current AFL pre-season, many Big V teams use these games to expose young players and give them a taste of what will come their way at some stage in the future. It’s exciting to see the next crop coming through and with a win or loss meaning nothing at all, you can therefore educate around mistakes rather than yank players out of the game.
Likewise, the older bodies tend to be treated with care, almost wrapped in cotton wool to some degree. Not often do we get to see a team’s leading player pushing the boundaries in a pre-season hit-out. Kicking back on the bench down the stretch is unfamiliar territory for the star players, but that’s what you’re likely to see at this time of the year.
Games at this stage of the year also gives the coach a chance to tinker with positions, rotations, offences and defensive structures and, as is often the case, this leads to a few errors and sloppy play along the way. You most certainly won’t see the best basketball during February.
So, while we’d all like to think that pre-season games are a definitive measurement of what will take place during the season, try not to fall for those teams that are more akin to shining in the February spotlight, chances are they may not be shining so brightly come August.
The Final Whistle has blown.