Final Four: Raw talent yes, but also ‘sticking to the fundamentals’ and ‘playing simple basketball’

The Elite Eight are one game away from being the Final Four, and Kentucky is the only team left from my initial picks. 1312322394_Clip_Art

But even with the excitement and intensity of the games, I’m trying to learn from the best of the best in basketball by looking past the fast-paced moments on the court to see what got them there.

It is interesting to hear the coaches’ philosophies on growing a solid team that knows how to win with humility and how to lose with grace. I’m also intrigued with how the coaches teach and develop the players as individuals and as a team.

One coach urged his team to “play simple basketball” while another echoed the sentiment with “stick to the fundamentals.”

And then another coach said “don’t be afraid to take a risk but make the risk count.”

The “play simple basketball” and “stick to the fundamentals” instructions reminded me of the time I attempted to camouflage an English paper in school with a fancy cover sheet, binder and fonts. I don’t remember how weak the writing of the paper was but for some reason I felt compelled to decorate it, likely in an attempt to earn points for presentation.

My English teacher saw right through me and called me out on it. She said I needed to spend more effort developing the fundamentals of the paper and less time trying to make it look good — that if the paper were solid in and of itself, then the rest wouldn’t matter. It would stand on its own.

Her coaching in that moment has guided me in a lot of areas in life well beyond writing English papers, news articles and first-person columns.

And her words come to mind every time I see an organization, team or even church trying too hard to “decorate” itself to earn points with those considering joining it.

Why do we sometimes think a polished image and glossy appearance is more important than securing the core of the structure?

Think about some of the most precious experiences in your life. The surroundings might have been truly beautiful or they might not have been special at all, but most likely whatever was happening was because it was simply what it was meant to be — with no extra, unnecessary decorations.

Tell me about a basketball game or other event in your life when “sticking to the fundamentals” made the difference.

—Jennifer Davis Rash

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