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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.

Feb. 14, 2011

Not quite the right foot forward…

Jeremy Boltus told me on Thursday of last week that my blog is skewed towards the goalies.  Well JB, this week it’s not going to change.  Senior goalie Tom Palesky was named the player of the game for his 18-save performance at UMass and sophomore Evan Danahy was named the practice player of the week.  Congrats to both members of the “Red Army.”

Both young men who won our weekly awards showed great effort and execution all week. Tom’s 18 saves were a result of a very good week of practice. I mentioned to #4 two weeks ago after the Stony Brook scrimmage that I felt he was not making a lot of saves in practice.  He had a good week in preparation for Fairfield and it held true during the scrimmage with the Stags. I thought he had a very good week of practice leading up to the UMass game. He was exceptional in the pipes, but knows he needs to clean up the execution of our clearing game. I tell our goalies all the time, they are the first pass in our offense.

Evan, who is a backup goalie, did a great job all of stopping our shooters during last week’s practices.  He, and the other goalies, are put in drills for the offense to shoot on them.  It is not a fun job, but he executed his part for the team very well, and that earned him the PPOW for week #5.

Well fans our heroes stubbed their toe this past weekend. The 2011 season did not start like we had hoped. Our Black Knights lost 8-5 to a very determined UMass team last Saturday. The game was very sloppy. I think both teams would agree on that. 

As a whole, the game came down to our inability to execute our game plan and their ability to make us pay for our mistakes. Lacrosse is a very simple game when you get right down to it. The team that executes the fundamentals of catching, throwing and scooping will most likely win the game. That rang very true on Saturday. UMass forced us into over 20 turnovers, limited us to less than 25 shots and took 50 shots themselves.

That is only part of the story. I am a big fan of motivational speeches and motivational speakers. Someone in their infinite wisdom stated that practice makes perfect. I remember in an article during his consecutive games played streak, Cal Ripken Jr., took it another level and said it was perfect practice that made perfect.
We were a classic example of that. The problem was we did not practice perfect, our practices were in fact sloppy. It was not an effort thing, our guys practiced hard, the effort was there, but the skillful execution was not.

There is a quote that sits eye level on my wall right in front of my computer from William Foster. I read it every day. It’s one of eight motivational quotes, tenants, or letters that are in my office.

“Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction, and skillful execution.” 

The outcome of any lacrosse game is the fruition of that quote.

The two teams were very equally matched. Both have explosive offensive players, both have strong defenses with quality goalies. In a game that pits two very equal opponents against one another, execution becomes the deciding factor.

We can break down our game and the week as a whole by looking at that quote…

We had the highest intention of winning. We gave it a sincere effort. Our leaders gave us good direction. 

That brings us to execution…

Our execution was not skillful. Offense, clearing and special teams were not executed to the level we strive for. Even the defense needed to execute better.

If we are to succeed as a team, we need each component to work together.  If the offense is struggling as it did on Saturday, then the defense needs to have a heightened sense of awareness and “dig the heels in” deeper.

I hope our guys learn from Saturday and realize what is needed this week and the weeks ahead. 

It’s on to VMI for #1!

Here is another nugget for your week.  See if you can identify who sent it to me by this little play on words. He is a certain color playing card in middle America.
“If you want unusual results, you need unusual behavior.”

Talk to you soon!

Coach Murph

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

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