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Thinking Outside The Box

Mike Murphy is in his eighth season as an assistant coach with the Army lacrosse team. Under his tutelage, the Black Knights have consistently been ranked among the nation's top defenses, while he has also guided some of the most prolific goalkeepers in Academy history. A native of Beverly, Massachusetts, Murphy graduated from New Hampshire in 1996 where he was a three-year lacrosse letterman for the Wildcats.

March 8, 2011

One for the seniors ...

I ended last week's blog with this thought to our team:

"I hope as our players read this blog that they realize that they will never get that opportunity back.  We will play another game this Saturday as we welcome the Cornell Big Red to Michie Stadium, but our seniors may never return to the Carrier Dome and it would be sad to know that we did not give our very best performance if that is indeed the case.  To our seniors, how will you affect the rest of this season?   To our underclassmen, how will you affect the seniors?   And know, that what you do for them will be reciprocated unto you when you are watching the sands of time run down during your final season."

Well, I would say that everyone on our team read those words and did their best to make a positive impact on our team and on Saturday's outcome. The seniors went into the week facing a team in Cornell that they had never beaten. A team, though not the same one, but the same school that really took it to us last May in the NCAA quarterfinals. 

The response was great.  But Saturday's win does not tell the whole story.  The outcome began to take shape on Monday and built momentum Tuesday through Friday. The team brought to every practice a desire to win and compete.   

Monday we met, as we always do at lunch, and watched the film of Syracuse. We were battered both emotionally and physically. The guys knew that they had let one slip away. 

Monday is when I finalize my blog, so the guys did not know where I was going with the post-Syracuse blog when we met. Tracy Nelson, our SID, usually posts the blog Tuesday morning after giving it a once over and correcting any grammatical or typographical errors. That is a fulltime job in itself. Thanks for all you do for us Tracy.

Tom Palesky stopped by the office Tuesday before practice to see Coach A. He pulled me aside and said that he thought the blog had hit home with some of the guys, and it was Tom who actually brought it to my attention that his class had never beaten Cornell.

I missed practice on Tuesday as I travelled to see an upcoming opponent who was playing that day. I called Coach Alberici at halftime to give him an update and ask how practice went. He said that it was not great, but he felt that we made some good progress in learning from our mistakes at Syracuse. Well, that's not good. I thought, "a lack luster practice after a day off, what are they doing?"

Wednesday was a cold blustery day but the guys had a good fire about them. They were getting on each other in a good way and we seemed to be focused on what lay ahead. So even though we might not have "won" on Tuesday we "won" Wednesday. Thursday was more of the same, and Friday was a spirited pre-game practice.   

There is a special bond among teammates that allows you to expect more from each other and much more from yourself. If you genuinely care about your teammates then you will demand the very best from him and give the very best in return. Teammates who truly care about one another know that a strong word or correction is out of respect and not out of cruelty. Great teams expect the very best from all members of that team and they know anything less is a dishonor to the members of the team.

Are we a great team...NO, not yet.  We are not even close. However, the potential is there. And "potential" can be a slippery word. Potential is often times used after the fact when we talk about the potential someone or something had when they failed in their pursuit of the "gold ring."

I hope our guys take Saturday's result, and the trials and tribulations it took to get there, to heart and know that great things are on the horizon, but the journey will not be easy. There are 10 more opportunities out there, 10 more opportunities to win or 10 more opportunities to lose. The identity of the 2011 Black Knights is starting to take shape, but what that identity truly is won't be known until the final whistle blows. But I think we may have taken a good step in the right direction.

Saturday was a great team win. We played hard, we played smart at times and we competed for everything. Coach Alberici asked the staff on Sunday after we had watched the film what are thoughts were and I said that I was impressed with how the underclassmen played. Nine of our 11 goals were by underclassmen. Four goals from Devin Lynch, two goals from Garrett Thul and then one a piece from Andy Boyd, Tyler Kamide and Tim Henderson. In addition to the goals, Pat Brennan had two assists to contribute to the win.

I think the dedication to our seniors by our underclassmen can be summed up by one guy's hard work that did not appear in Saturday's box score. Plebe goalie Bobby Sincero won the PPOW for his play in practice. Bobby and Evan Danahey spent the week playing goalie for the scout team defense.

 Now that may seem mundane, but they both played left handed to give our offense the same look they would see on Saturday from Cornell's goalie. It's not easy to step in the goal in the first place, but then to do it with your off hand raises the degree of difficulty just a bit.

So as we look forward to the next one, I hope that they look back and realize what kind of effort it takes to achieve success. We need to dedicate ourselves to getting better every day, working hard and taking care of each other.  If we do that, the rest will take care of itself.

It's on to Bryant for #3!

"If you want unusual results, you need unusual behavior."

Coach Murph

Previous Entries
Oct. 14, 2010
Jan. 27, 2011
Feb. 4, 2011
Feb. 10, 2011
Feb. 14, 2011
Feb. 22, 2011
March 1, 2011

 

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