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Coach Flip Naumburg's Journal
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
2008 WASN’T THAT GREAT SO 2009 IS GOING TO BE MINE
I haven’t written much lately but I certainly cannot say that it is because not much has been going on. In the last month, for example, I have purchased a lacrosse store. Now one might say that I already had one in Rock-it Pocket. Well, now I have two and we are in a recession, but hey, sometimes you just got to say, “What the Hey!”.
It is true that THE Rock-it Pocket ‘store’ I already have is much bigger than the COLORADO LACROSSE COMPANY that I just acquired but Rock-it Pocket is pretty much a cyber store front and this here new one is going to be a store in Fort Collins near Hobby Lobby and Burger King that one can really walk into and get interactive with while using more of the five senses generally available to most humans. I will say that we have two major goals for the store, and one of them is to be interactive with lax lovers in a big way. In other words I want to Sports Illustrated and ESPN ZONE to the max, only it will be mostly if not all about lacrosse. We want displays and big screens and video libraries and fun facts in the window and hopefully we will get some so worked up on lacrosse that we will have to sell Gatorade over the counter as well.
STICK IT TO ME or BOY’S GOTTA HAVE A DREAM
The other major focus is to make this store into Stick Central if you will, at least for the Northern Colorado area. I want to have the hook of great looking sticks that are put together as specialized components hanging on the walls. We match up handles with heads and heads with pockets to give the player the closest thing to whatever suits him (her) best as a lacrosse player. We can get you there or help you find where it is that the player needs to go. Everyone that plays at least somewhat understands how special the relationship is between stick and player. We are here to empower that relationship, and blah, blah.
THE DOCTOR IS IN
I also want to be the “stick doctor(s)” and I envision player people coming from all around to get their pockets ‘tweaked’ and in pursuit of this I intend to put all the ‘garbage’ about sticks and pockets that might be in, around, or locked inside my brain somewhere to use. God knows I spent enough time staring at pockets, stringing and unstringing them over and over again into the wee hours of the morning,, and all the while pondering the perfect marriage of throwing and catching that only the ‘perfect’ pocket in the right stick can give.
SO WHAT ELSE IS NEW?
My New Year’s coaching resolution is that we (CSU lacrosse team) will have a better and more mean and stubborn defense. I have seen us not score many goals from time to time over the years and I always managed to live through it or whatever, but my idea is that we will play more savage and more efficient defense this year than we have for a while. My plan is to get there even if it somehow kills me. I want to be ‘Us’again and to me that means stingy at our end of the field. To this destination I am traveling the road of study, the philosophy of conditioning, and the discipline of what drills to use to our greatest advantage.
IMPOSSIBLE IS NOTHING
I am convinced that right now we need to have players on a “need to know” basis. In other words, “PLEASE DO NOT THINK AND OR MAKE YOUR OWN DECISIONS!” I am much more of the Nike mind set, which is of course to JUST DO IT.
HELP IS ON THE WAY
Here is my assessment of the modern player: he wants to make all his own choices on the field, but when they don’t work out so well (e.g. other team scores goal) it might in his mind be because we perhaps weren’t in the right defensive set or slide or whatever. To me that is playing defense (or anything) without total buy-in, without complete commitment. You cannot serve two masters. You cannot play two heads against the middle and be successful as a team. Players cannot have it both ways that particular way in my opinion because there is no accountability when you pass the buck along.
WE WILL GO TO CHURCH THIS SPRING
Preaching and mantra-ing aren’t enough says me. To accomplish anything great as a group there must be faith. It is faith in one another and belief in doing the work to get somewhere that I seek in 2009.
JUST SHOOT ME
God also knows we have an incredible difficult schedule. It is my intention to prove that “I” did not bite off more than “they” can chew. First practice is three weeks from yesterday.
Friday, November 28, 2008
I WANNA KNOW SOME STUFF
Okay, so I keep coming back to the fact that my ongoing team building mantra has always sort of been something like when you do things as a team in a certain, unified and cohesive way, that this process of ‘good’ will always enable a team to improve as they work together, and with that amelioration of the overall state of that team they will also tend to be most competitive in the games against the toughest teams that they play against.
EVIL EMPIRE BUILDING IS FUN
The idea was and is to overcome the ‘evil’ in the world (teams that don’t do as many things “right”). I have, for example, many times shaped, fashioned, and or built us on a given year (any given year) to simply beat BYU or whatever I perceived BYU to be, shaping the Cougars for us to view through the looking at the ‘Evil Empire’ eyes and them as the ‘force’ that we had to overcome to achieve success in the (MCLA) galaxy. We grew and then thrived on that premise and doctrine, the one that stated flatly that if we could beat that team then we would also and naturally beat all the others that got in our way along the way.
CAN I GET A WITNESS?
Well, it doesn’t seem quite as simple as all that right now. I have found myself in recent times talking and thinking about match-ups (oh-my-god) and not just completely focusing on our own team and individual preparation like I used to. I want to watch more tape of my opponents than I used to, too. I think what I want to get is different from what it might have been if I had wanted to watch more tape in the past when I didn’t watch much at all. It is not because I am currently interested in what they (opponents upcoming) might do. It is much more that I am looking intensely for the Achilles heel, the weakness, the thing they DON’T want to be or do. In other words who do I want to shut off?
I SAID BORED, NOT BORED
In games against some/many teams in recent years I got so that I couldn’t stand watching other teams just throw the ball around the extreme perimeter when they had the ball during times of the game, and then talking about how they controlled ball possession time when they got interviewed or whatever after the game. I sought ways to attack that, and truthfully lots of those ways worked pretty well over the years. We put a lot of pressure on the ball carriers we faced. Things have changed, however, and offenses are now predicated on the fact that a defense is going to do that pressure and slide quick thing, and we have suffered a little at times because our defense has been broken down/bored through because it was stretching out to attack the offense that was boring me. Does any of that make sense? Too bad, I can’t stop.
So, my mind is moving towards, “If they want to stall the ball, go right ahead”, and then, “We’ll just wait around and hope to help you screw one up”. I think it is harder to execute 6v6 offense when the defense is anchored solidly into the sacred area protecting the goalmouth than it is when you get them running around and such.
HE’S NO FUN, HE FELL RIGHT OVER
In years past I have always tried to build a wall (sliding wall))) in front of our goal. That historically or traditionally RAM TOUGH defensive barrier we presented most of the time and had for so long seems to have a few little ‘holes’ or cracks due to age just now, or perhaps it is a bit of conceptual rust. Sometimes our defense doesn’t work equally well against everyone as it used to more or less. My ‘new’ ideological plan might be a more ‘dig a trench’ in front of our goal, one with an 'Indiana Jones' level of treacherousness. I won't be going for the building of the traditional wall as the to-build-a-defense thing this year. I do want people from other teams to definitely “fall down” when they get anywhere too close to our goal. I don't care what we have to do to do that more or less. We will definitely 'practice in pads' on Tuesdays and every other day as well.
We shall see if a proposed new approach comes about and or works, but either way I think I am about to do team defense in somewhat of a generally new way. In the past I think I just wanted a defense where the goalie could make saves and look good. Now I want more shape to it, more sides, like a star.
THE BATTLE OF THE BULGE (you were there at)
Tactics and attacktics seem very important now, more than ever, and to me that has come along with the offensive lacrosse mainstay of teams looking for ‘shortie match-ups’ going vs. the defensive game plan and the evolution of the modern, quick-sliding defensive philosophies. We are beginning the next phase now and I do not plan on, excuse me, bringing up the hind tit this year as it changes again. I am ready for and to alter the current state of some stuff.
RAMBO ON, I MEAN RAMBLE ON
What do I mean by all this and that? To put it in simple “lacrosse” terms the ‘Princeton defense’ no longer works for the most part JUST because you might know how to do it or execute it properly. Everyone knows about it now, they grew up playing it or against it. It is similar to the fact that your man-down defense knows all the man-up plays because they are routinely seen in practice. This makes the element of surprise pretty difficult to pull off and that makes it (EMO) a most challenging and intriguing team dynamic to practice more or less every day.
If you don’t believe me about the so-called Princeton defense, just take a little look at Princeton itself and the success they haven’t had in the most recent years after all those championships. Their ‘demise’ is not just that they don’t have enough great players anymore. They do (surely) have fabulous players lining up to go there if they can somehow get in. Other teams have ‘caught up’ to those Tigers of New Jersey in a lot of ways, though, it would seem, because they (Princeton) are far from THE final four fixture now. That is more than a fact. It is a glaring reality.
NOT VERY IVY LEAGUE, NOW IS IT JOEL? (College recruiter in Risky Business)
It (Playing the Princeton Defense) is no longer good enough to stand on its own two feet as it were. It (defense in general) needs to be so much more than that now. I know from where I speak because I strived for us (CSU) to be like Princeton on the lacrosse field for years, and it worked some, too. I schemed from the first thought that since we were such ‘thugs’ as it was that any Princeton influence or breeding marks of any kind at all would look good on us, and for years that style of defense and general play did look very good on The Ram and very few teams ever got anywhere close to scoring ten goals against us in one game. From that success we sired a lot of victories.
GOOD TIMES, BAD TIMES, YOU KNOW I’VE HAD MY SHARE
We still blow out teams that somehow aren’t as good as us. Great. We did that at CC when I played there, too, and one thing I hated about some of my former Tiger teammates there way back in the day was that boy, they would jump up and down and score five or knock somebody down when we played School of Mines or whatever, but when it came to playing the United States Air Force Academy (really good team in the 70’s and my personal evil empire to strike back at) you sometimes couldn’t find the somsabitches anywhere near the fracas. The 'Zoomies' played faster, rougher, and more together than any other opponent we faced. They had always just been back east to play Maryland. All the AFA players were from New York and Maryland. It was playing against the best.
Well, I personally would have rather have played the Air Forces of the world pretty much more than partake in any other life experience I could ever think of, and metaphorically I do not think that has changed a whole lot.
Okay, question I frequently ask MYSELF: why do we not these days give a good fight to one or two certain teams that are as good or heaven forbid actually better than us? You don't have to be as good as or better than a team to give them a full tilt boogie battle on the field. You just have to know how to put up a fight and want to do it.
In our last 4 or 5 games vs. BYU we couldn’t stand up with any kind of the necessary fight and or intensity, and if we did at all it wasn't until we were already 4, 5 or more goals down. One game we pretty much quit on and that just about killed me. Never quit. Not on a ball, not on a game, not on your teammates, not on a dream. There shall be no surrender ever if you really want to be a team or a player.
IS ANYBODY OTHER THAN ME MAD AS HELL?
Well, I’m sorry, but somebody out there has to get inspired for us and do something about it. Yes, I will take much of the ‘blame’ for any team trait we might have that I don’t want us to have. I am the fixer in charge, but ultimately it is not all boiled down to whether you run a 1-4-1 on offense or a zone on defense, or even what the coach says in the huddle. It is about whether you will take a hit in the mouth and not flinch, or better yet hit them first, which we really don’t do against the better teams lately. I am looking for that one or more of them that does have his fist pumped very hard. This game and being successful in general is not about talk or having a “sic” split dodge. To all that on the surface crap I say, “HELL NO, it won’t go!”. Actually it is really ALL about self-motivation to begin with and that becomes a collective mission at some point. It is not just, “Hey its swell to be part of the team or ‘family’. Somewhere along the line our “family” has become soft. I thought we were the family as in the Mafia is a family, and not a “Let’s all go to the mall” concept. In the end it is about things like whether you have the patience and or courage to actually finish scoring a goal because you are imposing your will on the other team and will not be denied.
CSU RAM TOUGH? IS IT JUST ME?
There was a long time frame when CSU lacrosse was literally defined by the player who was the first one that the other team zeroed in on when we showed up at their place. He was the one that put the fear in their hearts. We have no such warrior(s) right now because we don’t establish that for some reason by the style that we play. Now all they (other teams) say when they see us is, “Gee, there sure are a lot of you guys to shake hands with after the game”. Well, that was amusing for me for a while with our 55 players or whatever, but it no longer is, and if I can’t get this team back to a level of toughness that I deem necessary, then I am very soon to be done with it because much of what I love about lacrosse is the elegant violence I craved so much as a player and actually as a coach as well.
IF YOU BUILD A BETTER MOUSETRAP THE WORLD WILL BEAT A PATH TO YOUR DOOR
Sure, Ben, “Early to bed, early to rise”, that’s a good one. So is, “I’ll be back”, Mr. Governator. How about, "Go ahead, make my day"? It is a line still used 30-plus years after that Dirty Harry movie came out, but the one oldie but goodie that has always struck me and stuck with me is that build a better mousetrap one, and I say that even though nobody really has. They/we still use the spring-loaded whackers. Anyway, that’s what I always wanted to do, build a little better one and trust that all things good woud come from that effort.
There is so much potential to that thought, and the idea for such a thing as a better mousetrap can or could come to your mind at any time or in any place and it doesn’t necessarily matter what had originally been on one’s original train of thought. Sometimes the truth of inspiration comes from an active place and of course other times it seems to passively appear from Nowheresville.. For me it is those simple realities and not the availability of a GPS on the dashboard that makes the search so exciting.
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