The Bottom Line
By Bill Nestor
At the start of every basketball season every team begins undefeated. In a perfect scenario a team would stay that way. In Shinnston, there is a team that has done just that through the first 20 games and I had the opportunity to talk with Lincoln girl’s Head Coach Rob Hawkins about the feat and how his team accomplished it.
This year’s edition is extremely talented and that is no secret, however, Hawkins pointed to other essentials that have been difference makers. “One thing is that the girls are all comfortable in the system because they have all been in it for two, three, or four years. They have played so much basketball together that they know each other’s strengths and weaknesses.” The Cougars possess a lethal lineup that is unselfish and is a tight knit unit that “has great team chemistry both on and off the court.” The work ethic is present there according to Hawkins, “if there is something that we feel that we are weak at we will put an emphasis on it. The girls are very coachable and they understand that in basketball the regular season is just practice games. They have really made the effort to improve and we have had the improvement both as a team and as individual players.”
No team knows how they would respond to this type of situation until they are actually put in it. For Lincoln it has been business as usual each and every day. “We talked about being 6-0 heading into the new year and I don’t think we have mentioned it since.”
Hawkins always has his hand on the pulse of his teams. In my opinion one of the reasons that his teams are always successful is that he is always aware of what his players are thinking and feeling. “We are enjoying this opportunity. It’s rare when you play a 22 game schedule to get to 20 wins. The players seem to be enjoying it and they are still coming out every night working hard. They are showing up at practice and giving great effort and that has made it even more enjoyable.”
In the coaching business there are coaches that like to coach and there are those that love to coach and it’s the love of the players and the game that drives Hawkins. Consequently this type of situation is more magnified for coaches that truly care. When asked if this scenario provided pressure or was a motivator Hawkins replied both. “There is pressure going into every game with that zero. Very few coaches have the opportunity to be in this situation. It’s also a motivator to keep playing well.”
This group knew that it was good from the get go but it knew that improvement was needed in order to achieve the big goal. “Every team gets better as the season goes on and we had to get better too. We can’t be the same team that we were in December and expect to beat teams in February.”
Despite the accomplishments that have already been gained, Hawkins knows what he has and where he wants to be at the end of the season. “We know this is a special group that we have now and we want to take advantage of it. We are going to come out every night and try to get the W.”
That will do it for now. Until next week…take care and God Bless!