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Bro. Neal’s Chat with Coach Biehl #3

January 13, 2022

Chat with Coach Biehl #3

by Brother Neal Golden, S.C. (CJ ’57)

"The Crusaders began Catholic League play with losses to Jesuit 57-56 and St. Augustine 57-43.

Did the long time off during the Christmas break with COVID problems on the team kill the rhythm established in the 13-2 start in pre-district play?

Coach Biehl says, “It took its toll. I wouldn’t say it totally killed it. We’re not going to make excuses. Did the time off hurt us? Yeah, it hurt us but not to the extent that explains the level at which we’ve played, and that’s disappointing. When we played Jesuit, we were missing three very important players. However, it’s something everybody’s dealing with. The boys aren’t going to make excuses. It’s just the times we live in.

“We just didn’t make very wise decisions against Jesuit, and they’re the type of team that capitalizes off your mistakes. We made some very uncharacteristic mistakes. It’s frustrating because we had the opportunity to seal the game, and we didn’t do a good job there. Then we had the opportunity to win the game, and we didn’t do the job there.

At the end of the day, that falls on me. I’ve got to get our guys more focused on what it is we’ve got to do. When you have a five- or six-point lead with three minutes to go, you’re supposed to win the game. It’s a point of emphasis for us.”

The last minutes of the Jesuit game were “a comedy of errors. We’re up two with the ball with 45 seconds to go. We turned the ball over, but to our credit we got a good stop. Now we’ve got the ball with 30 seconds to go. And you know the other team’s looking to foul. We did some very uncharacteristic things. We had some mental errors. They’ve been addressed, and I’d love to tell you they’re corrected. Until we’re in that situation again, I can’t guarantee that. It’s not going to be from a lack of being instructed what to do and not the first time we’ve talked about it.

“I thought Coach Smith did a great job at the end of the game getting the boys into position to get three really good looks to win the game, but sometimes that ball doesn’t want to go through that net. So a one-point loss or 40-point loss, a loss is a loss.

“Any time you lose a game or even when you win the game but don’t win pretty, our job as a team is to evaluate what we did well and, more importantly, what we didn’t do well and learn from it and get a little bit better. That’s what made Tuesday night’s loss to St. Augustine so difficult to bear. We had a couple of days of practice where we did a pretty good job of telling the boys what to expect and what we wanted them to do. And at the end of the day, the execution of it was non-existent. When you play any team, but particularly a district rival, and don’t come with your ‘A’ game, they’re going to eat you up. Something we hang our hat on is getting into teams and making them take shots they don’t want to take. I’ve watched the game films, trying to see where the breakdowns are. We addressed it today in practice and made some strides, but we’re not nearly as crisp defensively as we were three weeks ago. 

Is the home game Friday night a must-win to avoid starting district play 0-3? 

“Absolutely. We’re eager to redeem ourselves against Holy Cross. We’d be foolish to think we can just shake off the loss to St. Aug. and not learn from it. 

“I thought the district has been down last couple of years across the board. But everybody this year is playing good basketball. Holy Cross is a very young team that’s going to get better and better every game. They’re 10-8 for the season and 1-0 in district with the win Tuesday over Rummel, which is much improved from last year. They also have a quality win recently over Riverside Academy.

“Holy Cross is playing a style they don’t typically play. They press a lot and play more zone than they typically do. I noticed St. Aug. played a lot of zone, and they don’t typically play zone. Even Jesuit is playing some zone. The Catholic League has always been predominantly a man-to-man defense league. But more and more coaches are switching to zone. That’s why it’s good to play a non-district schedule where you see a little bit of everything. Up to now, we’ve seen more zone than man.”

Does that have anything to do with COVID, guys missing practices and in and out of the lineup?

“Absolutely. A majority of these boys are more used to playing zone. The lack of continuity (in practices) makes it a little easier. Our man defense stunk the last two games. If you asked me a month ago, I would have told you this is the best man-to-man team I’ve ever coached. But for two weeks, we weren’t able to be together. Sure COVID’s had a little bit of bearing on that. But at the end of day, we know what we’re supposed to do and have to do a better job of it.”

Let’s pack the Conlin Gym Friday night to root the Crusaders to their first district victory. Tip-off is at 7:00 p.m."

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