What has been interesting this season is how the team has surprised everyone. Ranked #1 early in the season, fans and critics alike saw quickly this young “freshman” team had a lot to learn if there was any desire to keep that top ranking at the end of season.
Well, they are one game away from a national championship title. As the team has surprised Kansas State, Witchita, Louisville, Michigan and most recently Wisconsin, some interesting team dynamics have emerged. This team has matured and they same is likely important for your team as well.
For basketball fans, you will love these lessons. But even if hoops are not your sport of choice, the lessons are important to understand just the same.
#1 Your team must have depth.
Willie Cauley-Stein has been a powerhouse in defense for the Cats this season; but an ankle injury sustained early in the Kansas State game has forced him to miss the last 3 critical games. What has been fun to watch is how the team has relied on other players for success. During the Wisconsin game, the team went 9 players deep on the bench to round out the offense and defense. The same is true for your team. If you rely too much on one player, your team could be in jeopardy if he is “injured” in any way. The remedy? Create bench strength. Every player must have a back up who can step in as needed.
#2 The basics always create victory.
Every sport has its fundamentals. In basketball, it’s the basics of foul shots, turnovers, offense and defense. Score as often as you can and keep the other team from doing the same. When each of these basics are performed well, you will see a victory. Missed shots will lose a game. And poor defense will too. For your team, what are your fundamentals? How well does your team execute customer service, a great product, ease of purchase, product knowledge, etc? Perfect these and you will win.
#3 Your team must have a rallying point.
Most basketball games include a series of lead changes and often a deficit in which the underdog must rally back to take the victory. In each tournament game UK has played that moment has occurred – and basket after basket, the deficit is narrowed until a victory occurs. For example, against Louisville, the Cats only had the lead for 65 seconds of the entire game! But it was the timing of those final seconds that became the difference between victory and defeat. For your team, there will be moments of deficit. It’s natural. So when (not if) that happens, how will your team rally to inch forward to victory. It’s what great teams are made of.
This young Kentucky team has learned a lot in the last few months. And regardless of a championship title, they have showed us what great teams do. Here’s hoping yours is becoming a great one.