Sometimes things do not go exactly as planned. That was the case for the University of Delaware women's basketball program on Tuesday in Fairfax, VA. Despite never leading by less than double digits in the second half and finishing the night with a 69-55 victory over George Mason, head coach Tina Martin was not pleased with her team's performance after the game.
I didn’t feel like we played the game the right way tonight,” Martin said. “We’ve gone through the whole year and these kids have been terrific, but tonight we didn’t have the energy or effort and I am not very happy. We didn’t take care of the ball and the lack of focus by some individuals was very evident. I feel like stupid play is not something that we’ve done and the fact that we did some very silly things tonight is very disturbing to me.”
Delaware was out-rebounded for the first time in a conference game all season and they were sloppy on defense for extended stretches.
“There’s only one way to play the game and I’m not the kind of coach that says, ‘hey we won everything’s okay,’” Martin said. “Oh no. This was a bad performance by us. Our players need to understand this was not acceptable. For the first time in a long time I was very disappointed by the effort we displayed.”
But in Martin's players' defense, they also were playing their third game in five days with a sold-out home game against bitter rival James Madison looming on Sunday. This was the ultimate trap-game setup.
The Hens did win going away, earning their 18th consecutive triumph overall and their 35th straight CAA victory. With that kind of resume I am willing to give UD the benefit of the doubt.
But that's not Martin's job. When you're coaching the 18th-ranked team in the country you have to grade on a steep scale. Beating a bad George Mason team is not enough. The Hens have to compete against themselves to stay sharp and get to where they need to be as a team in time for March.
Comments like these may seem harsh, but they make complete sense when you peel back a layer. That's why Elena Delle Donne echoed her coach's sentiments right after the game.
“This wasn’t the Delaware energy tonight that we usually show,” Delle Donne said. “Obviously we did win, but it wasn’t a pretty win. We can do much better, and that’s something we have to focus on as we move forward.”
That kind of thinking is what makes this team special though. They are not over-burdened by incredibly high expectations. They don't shy away from pressure and they will not crumble under the weight of a little criticism from their coach.
They will take it all in stride—learn from her message, make the proper adjustments and move forward.
UD may have a big target on its backs, but these Hens know how to handle it. One rough night won't be anything other than exactly that—just a bad night
You know they are all looking forward to getting back on the floor on Sunday. And that is exactly what the coach was hoping to accomplish with her comments. So for Martin it was mission accomplished.