Our 5th and 6th grade girls basketball season.

          I signed up to help coach my daughters basketball team this season. It was my second time coaching basjetball, my first was coaching a 7th and the grade school team. For that school team we had 5 practices before the season started and 2 a week. Definitely  not enough to compete against teams practicing all week. Our team is a group of girls who were put together on a team. They recieve 1 hour of practice a week. Yet the we’re bumped into the school 5th and 6th grade league, against several schools who have practiced daily, as well as being together since 2nd grade. They were also cherry picked teams of the best kids they had. We were up against it.

         We begged and pleaded to get more practice time. We got 1 extra hour. Out of our 2 practice hours, one was on a half court. The only other team that practiced there had full court. Our head coach preferred to scrimmage and I prefer drills with rules in a scrimmage. During practice I would run drills to improve fundamentals ; dribbling, passing , shooting, boxing out, rebounding and off ball movement. I would try to combine them into one drill in order to make the most of our time. The only place we did not see dramatic improvement was our shooting. They jumped from 8 foot to 10 foot rims. The adjustment period has been tough on them. We worked on adjusting their shots  one girl double clutched every shot. Very difficult  to work with in 2 hours, but we made progress.

       Our 2-3 improved dramatically  over the season. First game all of our points were given up in transition. Our second group of girls had difficulty  learning the close out, then returning to their spot. Our guards played well, although they left the middle open quite a bit. Our center was very good but we were a team of 5th graders playing the majority of 6th graders. I know it seems like lame excuses, but their guards were taller then our center. We played well despite the odds. The kids never quit. We had 3 games where we got trounced and we were just over matched in those games. St season the 2 guards ran everywhere while the 3 down below stood there. It was a difficult learning curve for them. They shpwed a ton of improvement as the season went on. Very proud of them.

        Offensively we did not have much to build on. Last season the guards did the work while the big stood and watched. We taught themscreens, give and goes, V-cuts, pass and move and just general smart off ball movement . Because of the lack of time and their difficulty  understanding how to use a 1-3-1 to break the 2-3, we had to run some very generic movements. We referred to it as the curl and screen. The wings curl down under the basket to the other side. We would set a high screen and a low screen to cause the close out to fight through a screen. The only issue is we could not make our shots, otherwise it worked. We got a lot of open shots that were either air balled or bricked. One girl scored about half of our points, she took smart shots and worked into the middle. The big thing was the growth, they were setting screens, passing improved in games, shot selection for the most part was good and the dribbling improved. They also started doing things on their own. One quick example; they came down court, set the screens inside the top 2 in the zone, point guard dribbled in, drew in the defense and lob passed to our center. Who missed, but it was what we were looking for.

         We did win 1 game, suprisingly, even the guy in charge of the league was suprised  we won at all. All season we told them not to look at the score board, wins in 5th grade basketball are not important. This is where you set the foundation  for everything you do going forward in basketball , work ethic, attitude, skill and sportsmanship is built here. Throughout a 10 game season we went to the free throw line for 10 shots, yes 5 times total. Referees there were not good. It was a learning experience  for me, how to bend and mend in order to get 11 year olds to practice hard, to cement in their heads that you play like you practice. It clicked for some, others not so much. It was a season of growth, despite the fact I seem bitter, I am not. I am trying to be honest and I would be remiss if I didn’t admit to being disappointed  in myself. I let them down at times, as all coaches do, my practices were not planned out properly, wasting precious time and I didn’t put my input in on out lineups, despite disagreeing with how we started the game. We will be playing in a few tournaments  against some of these good teams, yes it will be a learning experience  on how to grow and play for them. But as it is said, iron sharpens iron. The better we play against the more they improve.

Conservatives, their time is now.

          Conservatives control the House and the Senate. They have control of 70% of state governments. The 2014 election was a blowout. Republican candidates took over in almost every state or important seat in the country. Despite all of this, what will these Republicans do with it? The early indicators do not look good for the average American. It seems to be more of the same, the same policies that nearly destroyed our economy and put us into 2 endless wars. 94% of sitting politicians were reelected, despite a 9% approval rating. Voter apathy? No, plain dereliction of a citizens duty.

          John Boehner invited Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to speak before Congress. Though not unconstitutional, it clearly is a shot at President Obama. President Obama is currently engaged in talks with several countries in attempt to disarm a nuclear Iran. This makes it appear that the United States is siding with Israel and puts all peace talks in jeopardy. It is a complete lack of knowledge on the part of a party dedicated  to destroying a Presidents legacy. Add in the fact that despite 8 investigations into Benghazi, which revealed no wrong doing by anyone on President Obama ‘s staff, Republicans want another investigation. They have wasted $60 million already. What’s a little more right? A lot when you look at the cuts they want to make.

                Republicans are going after the SNAP program, Social Security, unemployment and tax cuts for middle class. Mitch McConnell said any tax cuts for the middle class are off the table. Paul Ryan wants to gut Social Security, because they are all leeches scamming the system, despite him receiving it as a child. Raising the minimum wage is a non-starter for Republicans and they were already attempting to cut $58 billion from the SNAP program. All while trying to get more tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations. They want to cut education  funding and privatize it like our prison system. We saw how that worked right!  Is a myriad of policies that benefit their benefactors at the expense of the American people. Which battle should Democrats fight? I belive all of them.

             On the first day of the new Congress they proposed an Anti-abortion law, which was voted down, then proposed another. They proposed a bill to make this a Catholic nation, clearly unconstitutional , doesn’t matter to these clowns. Then they are trying to push through the Keystone Pipeline, calling it the Keystone Jobs Bill. They added in mountain  top removal, another mining technique that destroys the environment. The day they voted on the pipeline bill, we had the 4th pipeline explosion or break of the month. The Keystone Pipeline will create 35 permanent jobs, the oil will not come to America and it is some of the dirtiest stuff in the world. Sadly if you look at the contribution list for all politicians, all that voted for the bill received a fat stack of cash. The Koch Brothers have bought our Democracy.

              Citizens United needs to be overturned. 94% of the candidates who raised the most money won their race. Money should not equal power in our Republic. When the Disclosure Act was voted on, Republicans voted against  it unanimously. The Disclosure Act would allow us to see all money donated to every candidate. President Obama  proposed a one time 14% tax on American corporations hiding money overseas to pay for roads and bridges, Republicans are unanimously against it. I hope by now you can see the trend. Unfortunately these people are not working for us, they work for their sponsors. My grandparents wouldn’t recognize this country now.

              Republicans are firmly in control. It is on them, no more excuses. They can no longer hide from their policies. It is truly put up or shut up time. We all know trickle down economics doesn’t work, that Paul Ryans budget is a joke and that these Republicans had 4 years to create jobs, but only created chaos. It looks like that is not going to change. They don’t care because more then half of all Congressmen are millionaires now. Why would the middle class or poor matter to them? How do these people represent us when they do not understand how we live. We have allowed this to happen with our dereliction of duty. We must vote to keep them honest. We only have ourselves to blame.