Thinking Outside The Box - Blog 16

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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.

May 3, 2011

Bizarre Beliefs and Blue Jays

For some reason, this week's blog has been difficult to write.  I have a lot of random thoughts inside my head after a very disappointing week.  So let's just cut to the chase.  

The 2011 Patriot League Tournament did not start or finish the way we would have liked. The very beginning of the day was great, as the Patriot League honored Jeremy Boltus, Bill Henderson and Tom Palesky for being named the Offensive, Defensive and Goalkeeper of the Year, respectively.  But, when the whistle blew to begin the game, we had trouble getting going. We fell behind early against Colgate and were never able to tie the game.

Give Colgate credit. They executed their game plan perfectly and got the better of us again. Though down early, our guys did what they do. They scratched and clawed to get back in the game, but were just never able to tie it up. The effort was great, but the execution was not. We have to get back to basics if we hope to win this Friday. More on that later ...

The PPOW for the week that was went to Matt Marasco. Matt has done a great job all year long and has really come back well from injury. The POG from Friday was Bill Henderson.  Billy really defended well.  He limited his guy to one goal and one assist, and both came when Bill was matched up on someone else.

I guess this week's blog has been difficult to write because there are a lot of things on my brain. I realize that is a scary thought!
All coaches and athletes are creatures of habit. We work well in a routine, and get out of sorts when that routine is somehow knocked out of balance. Another "quirk" of many coaches and athletes are our superstitions. Superstitions can range in their level of quirkiness. John Galloway, the goalie from Syracuse, rubs mud on his face before every game. The dirt he uses comes from the field he played on in high school. I know one of our guys does not wash his practice gear during the week of a game. I won't divulge his name. I am sure it would embarrass him.  

The team has chicken parmesan every Friday night on the road. For the most part, we also have the same breakfast every meal. Eggs, potatoes and either pancakes or waffles. Coach Mac gets the serious stink eye if we don't get pancakes.

If you are familiar with our staff, you will notice that Coach A wears the same hat, sweatshirt, pants and shoes on game day. You will also notice that Coach Mac always asks me for a piece of gum right before the national anthem. What about my superstition? Let's try superstitions (plural)! Where do I begin?   

Last week, Coach Alberici asked me to send out an email to our recruits to showcase a great article that was written about three of our seniors. I waited until this Monday to do it. You want to know why? Well, last year at the beginning of the year there were tons of stories on our team, and I would send them out during the weeks leading up to the games. And every week I did that we would lose! So I stopped. So when he asked me to do this one last week, I could not temp "fate."

That one is probably the most mundane. I have to chew the same kind of gum on game day and it has to be a new pack. So yes, I have a lot of partial packs of gum in my locker in Truxtun. Thank goodness I chew a lot of gum during the practice week.

That's just a few, there are more, but we would be here for a while.  I have had superstitions for as long as I can remember, though after the week that was, I may be changing my routine up a little. It's amazing what we will do to try and "secure" a win.

I mentioned briefly above the effort our guys gave on Friday. Even though we were not at our sharpest in our execution, the effort our guys gave for sixty minutes was great. For fifteen minutes in the first quarter we just could not seem to get on track, but we never quit even as the scoreboard moved in their favor. I guess I should stop being impressed by it, but it would just be so easy for a team to give in to calamity, but not this group. They just keep plugging along. All year long it's been something. We have had our fair share of "issues."  But whether it`s been an injury or illness to a key guy, the next guy has just stepped up and made plays. We have been down in games, and the guys have never once packed it in. They just keep showing the attitude and mental toughness that will make them great officers in the Army.

In his post game meeting with the guys on Friday night, Coach Alberici told them that they need to look at this upcoming game in the context of 2010. In 2010 we faced the No. 2 team in the country in the playoffs with the pressure of win-or-go-home on us.  Well, flash forward to 2011 and we face the No. 3 or No. 4 team in the country - I can never keep the polls straight.  But the same can be said, it's win and move on or lose and go home!

On Friday night we will renew one of lacrosse's great rivalries. Army vs. Johns Hopkins - two programs rich in tradition. The Blue Jays are one of the most storied programs in our sport. They are the Yankees, Celtics or Red Wings of lacrosse. They have over 900 wins in program history, 179 First Team All-Americans and 39-straight years of making the NCAA tournament.  
All that stuff is great, but none of that will matter at 7:09 on Friday night when the 2011 Blue Jays square-off against the 2011 Black Knights.  

JHU is having a great year as they come to the banks of the Hudson with an 11-2 record and the winners of six straight. They are led on offense by a sharp shooting attack and a powerful midfield. They are anchored by a sophomore goalie who backstops an impressive group of defensemen.

Let's hope the boys do what needs to be done in order to extend the respective careers of a great group of seniors.

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