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Guarding Against the Self

“The mark of the champion is to be everlastingly on the lookout against the self.” — Golfer Bobby Jones

No matter how experienced you are as a coach or athlete, you face an enemy more powerful than any oponent. That enemy comes from within, in the form of the temptation to sit back and get a little too satisfied.

Apparently that does not happen on the UConn women’s basketball team, which is 35-0 entering today’s game against Cal. Coach Geno Auriemma gave an insight into his team’s mindset after a recent victory over Florida. He was asked if he thought that even better things were ahead for his team.

“Yes, otherwise there wouldn’t be any reason to practice the next couple days, watch films or do anything that we do as coaches,” he said. “I think whenever we look at a game and we focus on the final score it’s easy to see that we played well. The stat sheet shows that we played pretty well.”

Auriemma’s words are a blueprint for greatness. ANYONE can see when things are going well. ANYONE can look at a scoreboard or a stat sheet and point to a result.

It takes a special competitor to see beyond the score and to recognize what can be improved.

That’s exactly what Florida Coach Amanda Butler did in the last minute of the loss to UConn. With 12 seconds left and her team losing by more than 30 points, she called a timeout. In that situation, most coaches would just let the clock run out and head to the locker room. Not Butler.

“We were trying to execute a play even though we were clearly going to lose the ballgame,” she said. “There is a big picture here and I could care less about making the fans mad or whoever is disappointed. It was an opportunity for my team to get better. There was a certain amount of time left on the clock and we were going to draw up a play, execute it, and score, which is exactly what we did. That’s what I was thinking by calling the timeout.” 

So can you look beyond the score and do what needs to be done?

Coach Tully’s Extra Point: A transcript of Auriemma and Butler’s remarks can be found here.


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