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Your Most Painful/Worst Loss

Discussion in 'Coaches Corner' started by bandito0, Dec 13, 2013.

  1. bandito0

    bandito0 Well-Known Member Bronze Supporter SoSH Member

    This is my first year of coaching high school boys basketball.  I've never coached basketball, and was offered this position as a means of learning the game and maybe taking one of the JV positions when we start that team in the couple of years.  I coach at a small charter school (~300 total students 9-12), and our team has received and accepted invitations to play some of the area AAAA schools as a first game punching bag.  Last year we knocked off 2 of the 3 big schools that we played, but we still  haven't earned respect from anyone.
    Last night, we walked into yet another AAAA school's gym to play a game.  Our team, with no player bigger than 6'1", was viewed by the opposing team and their fans as a JV team, something that they reminded us of over and over during warmups. Fine.  We're used to that.
    We play a back and forth game, never falling behind by more than 8 and never leading by more than 5.  With 4.7 seconds left and leading by 2, our senior captain, best player in the gym who had dropped 44 to this point, grabbed a defensive rebound and was fouled.  He goes to the line, misses both shots, and the opposing team runs down the court, and hits a fadeaway bank shot three at the buzzer.   We lose.
    I get on the bus, talk to my senior (Telling him, truthfully, that we should have never been in that situation, teammates needed to step up, etc), and then sit up front and think about what I could have done.  Outside of advising our head coach to burn our last time out after the first miss so we could settle our team down, there wasn't much. 
    It's the next day and I'm still pissed, bummed, disappointed and happy we played well.  But I have to say, this is the most painful I've endured as a coach, and one of the top 5-7 of my athletic "career". 
    Anyone else have some war stories they'd like to share?  How did you deal with a loss like this?
  2. riboflav

    riboflav Member SoSH Member

    Varsity Basketball - Playing our arch-rival in their gym, two seasons ago. We haven't defeated them in our last five tries. We're up 21 at halftime and 14 going into the 4th quarter. I'll spare you all the details but we let's just say we were still up by 1 with 1 second remaining.
    EDIT: And although we've now won three in a row against them, that loss still haunts me to the point where I probably "run up" the score in some game sbecause I don't ever feel safe now.
  3. tonyandpals

    tonyandpals Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

    Maybe this is a good sign for you, because I'm a little lost on the details (it's been about 4 years now)...
    District finals for the 15yo baseball team I managed. We came out of the losers bracket and forced the "if" game, winner take all on our field. Up 2 going into the top of the 7th (last inning).  My starter is gassed, but I only have one kid who just throws straight fastballs on the bench.  Everyone else was burnt as my best pitcher went 7 the night before (ineligible) and my 2nd best went 7 two nights earlier ("unavailable").  Single, walk and I head out to make the change, even though we got the guy at the plate on offspeed stuff all day.  New kid comes in first pitch fast ball, gone.  Just like that, down 1.  Kid was visibly shaken, walked the next guy and I had to go to the kid who went 7 two nights earlier and he got out of the inning...
    We got a runner on and I am not really sure how it ended...but I know we lost.  Talking to those kids after the game was tough.
  4. Revkeith

    Revkeith lurker

    My senior year of high school playing basketball, we were playing our cross-town rival. We were up by two with about 5 seconds left, and during the timeout before the opposing team ran their final play, our coach ran his mouth at the ref and got hit with a T. I just remember everyone on the bench and in the crowd collectively yelling "NOOOOO!" right as the ref blew the whistle and signaled the technical. The other team sunk the free throw then hit a 12-footer at the buzzer to win. Still makes me queasy.
  5. Heinie Wagner

    Heinie Wagner Member SoSH Member

    My junior year in college, we had a fantastic low post player and ran a play for him  to catch it low post and score but if he got doubled, I cut to the hoop and he'd feed me for a dunk (back in the day I could really leap).  One game, we were down 1 with about 10 seconds to go and ran this play out of a time out.  It worked to perfection, he got doubled, I cut to the hoop, perfect pass, I went up for the dunk, banged it off the back rim, as it rebounded out to about half court, the buzzer went off.  We lost by 1.  That stayed with me for a while.
    On the bright side, I have a great story to share with kids I coach whenever they miss a shot near the end of a game.
  6. twothousandone

    twothousandone Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

    And you can end by saying "in a few years, you won't even remember this game. I've forgotten all about that game back in college"  and see if they get the joke.
  7. Heinie Wagner

    Heinie Wagner Member SoSH Member

    LOL, I'll give that a try next time I pull that story out.
  8. Doug Beerabelli

    Doug Beerabelli Killer Threads Lifetime Member SoSH Member

    Not the loss to Harding?
  9. Heinie Wagner

    Heinie Wagner Member SoSH Member

    The Harding game was probably the greatest basketball game I ever played in.  Two of the best teams in the state and both played really well.  They ended up winning something like their 5th straight state championship.  At least three of their players played division one basketball.  At the time, it was hugely disappointing because that team was really something special.  In the Captain America movie, the scene where Steve Rogers jumps on the grenade, like 3-4 guys on the team would have done that for the team.  That was a team that was really the epitome of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts.  We played about as well as we could possibly play in that game, no regrets, no play where I wished I'd done something different, nothing in particular I'd go back and change.  Maybe it would have been great if we'd made one more shot or gotten a call and won, but even in losing, it was pretty great.
  10. Doug Beerabelli

    Doug Beerabelli Killer Threads Lifetime Member SoSH Member

    All true.  It was a great game.   More about being thisclose to pulling off a major upset.
    The Maloney game was probably worse.  
  11. Heinie Wagner

    Heinie Wagner Member SoSH Member

    Maloney was much worse, they were a good team, but we were better.  We didn't play our best and lost.  We struggled with their press and we never struggled with presses  I got into foul trouble, lots of regrets from that one.  That game was on some kind of local cable access channel, so I watched it a couple times.  It definitely stayed with me longer.  We had two division one players on that team (albeit one a freshman) a guy who at 6'5" was a solid D3 player and the Tigers new manager.
    Big regret from that game?  The day before we had all area pictures or all district or whatever it was back then, which was going to make us late for practice.  Brad and I screwed around afterwards, just killing time, BS'ing with the other players, so we'd be even later to practice.  Maybe a few extra minutes practicing the press break with the full team makes the difference in winning that game.
  12. bandito0

    bandito0 Well-Known Member Bronze Supporter SoSH Member

    Well I have another one to share from today, which has certainly usurped the story that started this thread.
    Our league's semifinals were today.  We drew a 2 seed and the best draw to the championship that we could have hoped for.  We're playing the 3 seed, a soft, slow, but sharpshooting team.  Our plan was to pressure the basketball with 2 up and once the ball got across to go man.  Then run them into the ground when we were on offense.  Use our athleticism and toughness to beat this team. It worked wonders in the regular season, to the tune of a 24 point win.
    Well the plan worked great for 3 quarters.  We're at home, up 9, and quickly we push our lead to 13 with 7 minutes left to go.  They call a TO.  We promptly shit away our lead in epic fashion, leaving the game tied with 5 minutes to go.  We get our lead back to 5, just to again give it away. Tie game with 3 minutes left.
    We go on yet another run and take a 7 point lead with 90 seconds to play.  We end up giving an and-one, a three, and another free throw in a span of 40 seconds to make it a tie game yet again.  Turnovers killed us.  We had 6 in the 4th quarter.
    After forcing a turnover on an inbounds play with 30 seconds left, the opposing coach orders an intentional foul.  Our best player, a senior, misses the front end of a one and one, we get the oboard.  They foul.  We miss another front end, get the rebound, they foul.  We miss the third front end in a row, they drive down the court and we foul on a layup attempt.  They hit both free throws with 3 seconds left. 
    Following our last time out, we get the ball in to our best player around halfcourt, he takes 2 dribbles, throws up an off balance NBA range three and it clangs off of the back iron.  The buzzer sounds and we lose.  Season over.
    I'm not sure how those of you who have played basketball, coached basketball, or any sport for that matter, deal with this.  This is the 5th year in a row we've been eliminated in the semis.  I've certainly have had my basketball coaching cherry popped this year. 
    I told most of my team to smile tomorrow and remember that life isn't over.  But that advice hasn't stopped me from being a total wreck this evening.
  13. Heinie Wagner

    Heinie Wagner Member SoSH Member

    Three front ends missed in the last 30 seconds?  Oh man, that's a tough loss.  Some times things just aren't meant to be.  It takes hard work, skill, preparation etc, but sometimes also a little luck.  Sounds like you didn't get much luck
    "I'm not sure how those of you who have played basketball, coached basketball, or any sport for that matter, deal with this."
    When I played in HS.  I'd walk around for a few days trying not to speak to anyone after a tough loss.
    Fr-Soph year in college - I'd drink and drink, I don't even remember most of those losses :)
    Jr year in college - I'd go out the next day and work my tail off so it wouldn't happen again, even after the last game of the season
    Sr year - back to the beer
    When I played in Europe - a combo of beer and working like crazy the next day
    As a coach - I'll have a beer or two after a tough loss (sometimes even a tough practice) but not like in the old days.  Mostly I'll try to focus on what I could have done to make my players better prepared and more skilled so they could be more successful the next time.  That can lead to some really unproductive days at work.
  14. riboflav

    riboflav Member SoSH Member

    Tough losses eat away me. I don't sleep well for days, maybe weeks. Some seasons, I lose up to 15 pounds.  I still have nightmares from a loss several seasons ago even if I've had really good teams and seasons in the interim. I HATE losing and will do everything legal to win. I drink, curse, talk a game to death, sulk, whatever. It's not healthy but I know it makes me the best coach I can be and that I care about more about than anything.
    Good for you for being a wreck. I'd want to play for you.
  15. Rsox4life

    Rsox4life Member SoSH Member

    The varsity baseball team I coach lost 2 to 1 in the state final last season. Had a lead through 6 and lost it in the 7th. 3 hitter homers 5 ft foul would have won it for us...strikes out next pitch. I can't help but think when we lose by a run that it falls on coach.
  16. Cumberland Blues

    Cumberland Blues Dope Dope

    11/12 LL tournament team. Must win game after a hard fought 3-2 defeat the night before. Up 11-4 heading to the bottom of the 6th:

    6-4 fc
    single (should've been caught but nobody touched it), 1st & 3rd
    e6, 11-5, 1st & 2nd
    e4 , bases loaded
    single, 11-7, 1st & 2nd
    single, 11-8, 1st & 3rd
    New pitcher (my kid)
    walk, bases loaded
    K, 2 outs
    walk, 11-9, bases still loaded
    cheap seeing eye bloop single on an 0-2 pitch, tie game, 1st & 2nd
    infield single (thought we had the guy at 1st, didn't get the call), bases juiced
    single - game over.

    In all that - I think the first and last hits were the only balls that were really hit hard - everything else was soft and we didn't make plays or they found holes.

    Definitely a "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" moment for Cumby Jr. and his mates. We've got one game left tonight - but that's just for fun & pride, as our chance of making the next round went out the window with that 8 run 6th inning. We had only given up 8 runs in the whole tournament prior to that meltdown inning. And while it was a shitshow of an ending, I gotta say that while I was disappointed with the lack of composure the kids displayed (there were as many mental errors as physical ones in that last inning) - on a lot of teams there would've been finger pointing galore - but these kids were all supportive of each other afterward. So bad loss on the field, but the coaches & parents done good - this is a really awesome, tight knit group of kids.
  17. Heinie Wagner

    Heinie Wagner Member SoSH Member

    Sounds like a lot of little things went wrong but the most important thing went right. Congrats, that doesn't happen by accident.
  18. steeplechase3k

    steeplechase3k Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

    Cross Country, my junior year of college. I was at Wheaton (MA), a DIII school that had only have men for ~15 years at this point. Not much of a history of a good distance program, but I enjoyed running. The previous 2 years I had been running the 8k (~5 miles) races in around 38 minutes, really slow, even for DIII. I had a pretty good spring track season as a sophomore and a great summer of training. Got to college and one of the first practices we did a long run. A teammate had marked the mile points on the road for this loop. I went through 5 miles in ~36 minutes. 2 minutes under my previous PR, and I still had 3 miles to go. I finished at the same pace. As we go though the season I'm taking a minute or two off my time every week.

    We get down to what is probably the last race of the season (unless we all run like crazy and the team goes to Nationals), and I set a goal of breaking 30 minutes. That means running slightly better than 6 minute miles. I planned on negative splits, that is I wanted to run something like 6:05, 6:02, 5:59, 5:56, 5:54 or something (I know I had it planned to the second a the time). Less than 5 minutes before the gun, my coach tells me to try to stay with one of my teammates. I was the 7th runner and he wanted me to go out with the 5th. I went for it, and at the mile mark was at something like 5:50, a full 15 seconds faster than my goal. I panicked and slowed down. At 2 miles I was at 12:25. about 20 seconds behind my goal. I did the quick calculations in my head of what I needed to run the rest of the way to still break 30 minutes and...

    I failed.

    I ran a 30:45 or so. I was PISSED at myself for running a stupid second mile. Senior year I ran like crap since I had a bunch of injuries over the summer that prevented any decent training.
  19. Bowhemian

    Bowhemian Member SoSH Member

    Division 3, NH high school football, 2 years ago. The team I was coaching was undefeated through the regular season. We were stacked, and were smoking teams all through the regular season to the point that we were resting starters even before halftime. First game of playoffs, pretty easy win. Next round (semi-finals) was a team that we beat handily in week 1. We were all confident, kids, coaches, parents, media, everyone knew we would spank this team. Except our team that year had one HUGE problem. We couldn’t pass. We knew we couldn’t pass, but never had to. Never had to even throw one to keep teams honest. We had that good of a running game, or so we thought.

    Semi-finals game, the team we had beat came in and stacked the box on defense. They had 7 on the line, 3 linebackers up tight, and 1 safety about 5 yards back. Every play, all 7 were crashing, plus 1 of the linebackers. We thought that if we could just break one or 2 good runs, there would be no one left to stop it. Except we couldn’t break one. Not one. Tried throwing but since our QB was an overconfident clown who could not complete a pass to save his life, we had no chance. Our defense just plain gave up after seeing the offense with complete fails. We lost 20-8. Utterly humiliating.
  20. Dummy Hoy

    Dummy Hoy Angry Pissbum SoSH Member

    The team I was coaching lost a hockey game in the state semifinals in such a brutal, unjust, and demoralizing fashion that it still bothers me more than I enjoyed winning the state title the next season. Much like the Aaron fucking Boone game, I will never get over that.
  21. DrewDawg

    DrewDawg Dorito Dink SoSH Member

    HS baseball state playoffs, regional finals, many moons ago. I was injured and not playing (that was painful enough) although in a pinch I was available to bunt or run, but only if we ran out of players.

    A win takes as to State as one of 4 teams left alive in the group of biggest schools in the state--this was our school's best team ever. Our coach, not the brightest, goes with a LHP because he gets the platoon split shit backwards against a team of all RHH. He goes 2/3 IP, 6 runs. We bring in the RHP he could have started and he shuts them down, we claw back and lose 6-5, with runners on 2nd and 3rd to end the game. No single nut-punch play, just a chance for our Al Bundy moments and we never really had a chance.
  22. BJBossman

    BJBossman lurker

    State Semifinals my jr year of HS baseball. I was ready for this year because it was supposed to be my year as well. I programmed the date of the state championship game into my phone so every time I turned it on I would see that date. Remind me what i was working for.

    We reach the final four against the team the courant projected us to face (as lose to, despite beating them earlier in the year with our #3 starter against their full lineup).

    We're up 2 in the top of the 7th.

    With 1 out, perfect double play ball to the shortstop...

    ...close enough that he could've stepped on the bag and thrown to 1st and won the game.

    Instead...the ball hits a rock and kicks 15 feet into the air.

    next batter hits a base hit to tie the game.

    Game keeps going. Bottom of the 7th our senior 3B forgets how many outs there are and doesn't score with 2 outs on a double to RF.

    Our ace (going to UConn that fall), goes 9. He throws 192 pitches (not a typo).

    We end up losing in 10.

    Just crushing.

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