As I mentioned early in June, I was playing in my 20th season for one of my summer basketball leagues. That particular team had a very GOOD season. Despite some close calls (including two OT games), the team played well and finished undefeated (7-0) in the regular season.
In our particular division, there are 16 teams divided into two brackets (let's call them Bracket A and Bracket B). The top two teams from each bracket would make the playoffs. My team was in Bracket A and so we would play the #2 team from Bracket B in the playoffs. However, the #2 team from Bracket B was probably better than the majority of the teams we played in the regular season and we lost 56-45. While the score didn't look that great, it was due to free throws at the end. We were well within striking distance throughout but missed shots hurt us quite a bit.
My team was obviously disappointed as we had a chance to win the game. Yet, as I look back, I hope the young guys are proud of how they hung in there throughout the season. The team won games in all sorts of ways this season. We played one game without our star, fell behind by 10, but managed to win in overtime. We played one game with six players (meaning I played A LOT) and won by double digits. Plus these guys are still improving and with more experience, they will be a lot better next season.
For myself, I look at things in two ways. As a coach, I think I did alright. I mainly ran subs and focused on defensive strategy rather than offensive. I've never been much of an offensive coach so I was content to let the guys just play. Of course, if there were things I saw that could be improved, I mentioned them. If I wasn't playing, I probably would have been in a better position to coach.
As a player, I didn't do too well. I admittedly had some personal things I was working through and that affected me a bit during the games. But the fact is I was an old guy playing in a young player's league. The teams were quick and fast and I was a little outmatched. I hit a few shots here and there, got some rebounds and tried to fill in where I could. But for the most part, I was a bit player letting the young guys do their thing.
For me personally, while it would have a nice present to celebrate my 20th season in the league to make the championship (and even win it), I was quite happy to just have an undefeated regular season. Yes, we did end up losing our playoff game, but a 7-1 record is still pretty darn good.
To illustrate how good the record was, I have played 20 years in the league. In those 20 seasons, my teams have made the playoffs 9 times. Out of those 9 times, I have been in the championship game 4 times (winning two / losing two). My two championship teams were 10-0 and 8-1 overall. All the rest of the teams had 3 or more losses. Essentially, short of winning the championship, my 2011 team finished with the 3rd best record out of the 20 seasons I have been playing.
All in all, I am proud of my team and was happy I got a chance to play with a different set of guys. I think the young guys have a bright future and my hope is they stick around and grow together. As for my future, nothing is set in stone. I'll still be playing somewhere and if need be, I could play again next summer in 2012.