I played 59 games over my two year career at The College Of Staten Island for legendary coach Tony Petosa. My first home game I scored ZERO points on 0-5 shooting in 32 minutes of playing time in a regular season win vs non conference opponent Rochester Institute of Technology. My last home game ever I scored 40 points to help our team advance into the sweet 16 for the first time in program history. Conventional wisdom would say I played “better”, maybe even a lot better, in the game where I scored 40 points. I’m here to tell you why I played just as well in the game in which I didn’t score.
As a point guard my entire life, I’ve always valued winning above anything else. I have always fantasized about the great pass more than the great move for a bucket. I have always loved the buzz from the crowd you get when I made a nice pass that didn’t seem to be there. As I got older and got into my first college season after a long journey, I openly proclaimed that I wanted to lead the entire nation in assists.
After the first two games I realized that was selfish.
As a point guard who had the ability to score, I had the chance to treat each game differently and give my team what I thought was needed for that specific game. I didn’t always have to score or look to score. Sometimes I needed to look to get myself going to open things up for everyone. To be the best me I could be I needed to trust my feel of each game.
Fast forward to the only game in college in which I didn’t score a single point.
It was our home opener as we had just won a 2 game tournament at Wesleyan University in which I lead the team in scoring both games. There was a lot of excitement building around our team and RIT had just come off a great season the previous year. I’m not going to lie, I was excited and wanted to show my home fans my ability to lead the team by scoring and assisting. Well RIT had other plans as they rotated great defenders on me and forced me into an eventual 0-5 night with 5 turnovers. About halfway through the game I knew I was going to be forcing anything offensively but wanted so badly to help us win a close game. I instead shifted all of my energy and effort on their star guard who had 16 with about 15 minutes to play. I hounded him. I chased him through screen after screen. I fought to make him work just to catch the ball. I also continued to get us into our offense and let our team go to work. As the game went on I was wearing down but I could see he was as well. He finished the game only scoring 1 more point including missing a 3 to tie it at the end of the game. I was extremely proud of my effort as were my teammates. I knew I had contributed to our victory regardless of my doughnut, both of which Coach Petosa acknowledged after the game.
Fast forward to my highest scoring game at any level.
We were up against a real physical and experience team in Rhode Island College. Coach Bob Walsh (Currently Maine’s Head Coach) and his team were looking to head to their third straight sweet 16, an incredible accomplishment at any level. To make a long story short, our best player Jordan Young was in foul trouble the whole game and our leading scorer Bloochy Magloire was having an uncharacteristically cold shooting night. I knew that I was going to have to be increasingly aggressive to score as the game went on and I was also very fortunate that my teammates found me in good spots, set great screens and opened up opportunities for me. Honestly, my 40 points did not win us the game that night. We had a freshman big (Javon Cox) and reserves Dylan Bulger, Lameik Black and Matt Van Manen play their asses off against RIC. Without their efforts we lost by 15 points. I also felt that our team defense and adjusting to playing with awkward lineups was awesome.
Shooting well has NOTHING to do with playing well. In all the games in between scoring 0 and 40 I have had many different type of games. I have scored 25+ and not played well and I’ve also scored 3 and had a huge impact on the game. Impact in the game of basketball just like in life, can not be measured by a box score or statistics. The most important thing is that you do your job to the best of your ability and elevate the performance of those around you. The higher you go in level and the older you get, the more you will see that everyone has the ability to score the basketball. What will separate you? The one thing you can control in all of your games and practices is your effort and energy especially at the defensive end.