Sunday, November 28, 2010

Great weekend for the Diamonds (or should I call them the comeback kids?)

There seems to be a recurring theme with my Diamonds: they are slow starters. The rules in the grade 8 age group require that 9 different players play at least one of the first three quarters of the game. As a result, I can't just play my five best girls as much as I would like to. This means that I have to mix and match the better players with the less experienced ones in the first three quarters. In practice, I choose to do this in the first two quarters, so that, in the second half, I can play whoever I want to (i.e., those who deserve it). This means that my team usually performs better in the second half. For example, last Wednesday's game (described in my last entry) saw us tied at half time, yet winning by 13.

Little did I know that this would become a recurring theme. Yesterday, we were visiting Jean-Grou high school. I didn't really know what to expect, as Jean-Grou is traditionally a great basketball school, yet they lost to Regina Assumpta a couple of weeks ago 72-8. Also, I was afraid that the girls might not show up on time, for several reasons. 1) There was no bus to take the team to the game, as it was a weekend game. 2) School was cancelled on Friday because of a mini ice storm in the morning, which means that practice was also cancelled, and I could not reinforce to the girls that they had to be on time. 3) Jean Grou is quite out of the way. 4) There are two different gymnasium's at Jean Grou, and people could easily show up at the wrong one.

By game time, only two girls had arrived. I could not believe it. The referee told me that we had 15 minutes to get a team together. Six more girls showed up, and, luckily for me, one of my players' younger sister, who also attends our school, was willing to be a temporary member of the team (she did OK). Another player eventually showed up. By this point, I had already almost had a heart attack and the game had not even started.

When the game did start, it was not long before we were down by 6 or 8 points. The girls managed to claw back to 17-16 after one quarter, but were down 31-24 at half time. The way my team played in the second half was a thing of beauty. They started out the half with a 10-0 run and never looked back. Jean Grou never managed to close the deficit and the Diamonds won it 52-49. The girls were pumped, and I was pretty excited myself. It was really an impressive win, in less than ideal circumstances.

At the end of the game, I really stressed the importance of arriving on time for today's game. It seems as if the message was received, as the girls arrived at Collège Anjou early enough to warm up properly. I was hoping that a proper warm-up would make the difference and help us deal with the slow start issue. On the defensive side of things, I could not complain. However, the offense was just not working. The girls were not generating many shots and were missing the ones that they were taking. As a result, the Diamonds were down 18-9 at half. I can't say that I was discouraged, given the way things had gone in the last couple of games and also due to the fact that my strongest five players would be playing the whole second half.

The second half was really no contest. We held the other team to 7 points in the third quarter, then only 2 in the fourth. In the meantime, our offense was beginning to take shape. I was so proud when one of the girls set a pick for the point guard, generating an easy layup.. you really don't see this much at this level. With 28 points scored in the second half, the girls took the win 37-27. As one of the parents mentioned to me after the game, I will have a few new grey hairs by the end of the season at this rate. I admit that I am quite emotionally invested in the team, but all I really want is for my girls to do well and play to their potential!

As a result of this week with three comeback victories, the team is now 4 and 1. We have the second best record in the league, behind Regina Assumpta, who are 5 and 0. There are no more games before the holidays, and we should have some time to work on addressing some of the issues that have come up this week.

I emailed Alex a link to a used BMW M3, telling her that for about the price of a 2006 0r 2007 325i, we could get a 2003 M3. She was not hard to convince that it might be the car for us. As a result, I have made an appointment to have the car inspected at the BMW dealer in Quebec City (where the car is located). The car has a few modifications (some of which I would quickly undo) but has covered only 103 000 km, with no winters. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Big week for the Diamonds

Today the Reine Marie Diamonds played their third game of the season. I was expecting a relatively easy win, as the team against which we were playing got crushed by Regina Assumpta, a team that only beat us by ten points. They had also lost to the team we beat by 15 in our second game.

I don't know if the problem was overconfidence, but the beginning of the game went very badly for us. Our defense was shaky and our offense was non-existent. We were down 8-2 after a couple of minutes. The second quarter was not bad and we went into half time tied at 23. Fortunately, our defense came together in the second half and we held the other team to 7 points. We missed many easy shots and put-backs, but still managed to win 43-30. We never had a big enough lead so that I could play my bench. I don't know if the girls were stressed out, but if they were, it was my fault. I have to find a way to get them fighting right from the beginning of the game. We can beat all the other teams if we play well. We have two games this weekend, both against teams we can beat. I have to find a way to motivate my troops!

My own team lost again. We are really not playing to our full potential. Also, we found out that one of our guards is out for the season with a torn ACL. I scored 17 points, but I missed many easy shots. We have the night off this Friday.

News of Alex:
Alex was offered a professor job at Concordia! I am super proud of her and very happy that Concordia saw her potential (they better, after a 10-hour interview!). The position begins next summer. I'm also very glad she will be staying in Montreal.

Also, Alex getting this great job allows us to buy a new (used) car. I went to try out a 2006 BMW 325i. I like the car a lot, but the one I saw had a couple of small issues and too much mileage. I briefly toyed with the idea of importing a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8 from the USA, but I realized that it was going to be difficult to find a good one with my limited budget. It's not that easy to find a great BMW 325i with my budget either, but there is no hurry.

I'm watching Hell's Kitchen, and Chef Ramsay is yelling at his chefs: "It's like you're doing it on purpose!" I felt like yelling this during the Diamonds games at some point, but I managed to hold back. I believe in positive reinforcement, but it's hard not to yell sometimes!

Cool cars spotted:
Audi R8 V10 Spider
Porsche 997 Turbo S
Bentley Continental
AMG C63
BMW M5 V10
Audi RS6
Audi S6 V10
Aston Martin Vantage

Monday, November 15, 2010

First win for the Diamonds!

My team, the Reine Marie Diamonds, won their first game this year (we lost the first game by 10 points last week). The final score was 42-27. The girls did not play as well as they had in the loss to Regina Assumpta, but they played well enough to win. I would have preferred for the scoring to be better spread out among the girls, as one player accounted for 20 points and many did not score at all. Still, our passing was improved and the defense was generally solid. Also, I witnessed some amazing fast breaks and passing plays. Our next game is in a few days and I hope the win will contribute to the team's over all confidence.

Cool cars spotted:
Porsche 997 Turbo
Porsche 997 GT3 RS
Audi R8
Audi RS4
Cadillac XLR
Rolls Royce Ghost
Nissan GTR
Nissan Skyline R32 GTR
Jaguar XF-R

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Focus on Basketball

In the last couple of weeks, my focus has mostly shifted to basketball. The Diamonds, my grade 7-8 girls' team, had their first game last weekend against Regina Assumpta. Even though we lost 46-36, I was very proud of the way they played and did not get discouraged, despite being down by 15 points in the first half. The other team had more skilled players (they won the grade 7 championship last year without losing a single game), so my team's performance was more than respectable. Our defense was solid and our shooting percentage was extremely impressive. Our main problems were beating their press and poor passing leading to turnovers. Tomorrow, we have our second game of the season, against Joseph Francois Perrault. This team lost big to Regina Assumpta, so we should have a good shot at a win.

My own team has played two more games. We won by 12 last Friday, and I scored 15 points, which is a lot for me. I even scored a 3-point shot! Yesterday, however, we lost by about 15. We were never really in it and it was never very close. The other team had an incredible shooting percentage. At one point late in the game, I lost my cool and yelled at a referee, which earned me a technical foul. I think I scored 13 points and my shooting has been improving. However, as a team, we were outplayed and were not able to generate any serious offence. I hope we can bring it together next week.

Cool cars spotted:
Ferrari Mondial
Lamborghini Gallardo
AMG C63
AMG E63
Mercedes 500E
Maserati Quattroporte
Porsche 997 Turbo
Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8
New Subaru WRX STi sedan
Bentley Continental

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Updates

As the seasons shift from fall to winter, my focus continues to shift from car stuff to basketball. My girls' team has its first game this Saturday. It will be our first ever game in AA and I just hope we can keep it close.

I played in my first men's game last Friday and it went OK. We actually tied, which is a first. We were tied at the end of regular time and again at the end of overtime. Personally, I played OK. The team chemistry is not there yet, but we have good potential.

I stored the race car for the winter in my parents' garage. I managed to fit 15 mounted wheels in the car. Is that some kind of record?

I called a guy about a 1990 BMW 325i for 1 000 $. The car is in Ontario and the front seats are missing. Potential project car? We'll see.

Oh, I saw this parked near my house, on the street:

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Wow. Just wow.

Cool cars spotted:
Porsche 959 (!!!)
Porsche 997 Turbo
AMG C63
AMG E63
Aston Martin Vantage
Audi S6 Avant
Audi S8 V10
Bentley Continental
Ferrari F430
Maserati Quattoporte