PLYMOUTH – Riding the momentum of a very positive outing against Michigan City providing a big upswing of confidence Plymouth’s Lady Pilgrims lost a game Saturday to a different opponent.
Close contact with COVID quarantined several varsity players and with several more injured and a JV just returning to practice Plymouth found themselves with just six players able to take the court against Valparaiso on Saturday.
“A couple of weeks ago it (COVID-19 quarantine) hit our freshman/JV team so they haven’t been in the gym forever and they just got back,” said Plymouth coach Dave Duncan. “If we had had some JV kids we could have moved up we would have gone ahead and played that game. We were in a situation that we didn’t have enough kids to have them come over here to play.”
Both schools’ athletic departments have decided on a makeup date of Dec. 23 but a tip-off time has yet to be determined.
“In a way, it’s good because we will be able to play a JV game that night that we weren’t going to be able to play,” said Duncan.
The Plymouth coach finds himself in the middle of a situation that many coaches are dealing with as well, how to plan in an era that makes plans obsolete from moment to moment.
“This thing changes so quickly you are afraid to look at your phone sometimes because you don’t know what the message is going to be,” said Duncan. “We lost two starters to tracking due to close contact. We lost another starter this week with a stress fracture in her foot. This has been different than what we are used to.”
The problems are two fold – the loss of individual players that will have to recover their conditioning after a two week lay off and continuing the development of the rest of the squad.
“It’s hard to get a whole lot accomplished in practice with just six kids,” said Duncan. “That’s what is thrown at us. You have a practice plan ready to go and then you get a text and your plan changes quickly. It’s nobody’s fault it’s just the society we’re in right now.”
“You just role your sleeves up and go with the flow of what’s going on right now,” he said.
While basketball is a team sport, it’s difficult to work on being a team without enough players to practice those skills.
“It’s pretty much just individual skills,” said Duncan of practice time. “We threw a few coaches on the floor trying to simulate a one, three, one. It’s been difficult but we are trying to do what we can with what we have.”
The pandemic has eliminated another part of the game for high school teams – the scouting report. The Lady Pilgrims are scheduled to take on Logansport on Tuesday and the Berries played their first game of the season on Saturday.
“We are at the point right now where it’s hard to even simulate what another team does,” said Duncan. “We haven’t seen anything on Logansport, they play their first game (Saturday). They have the same coach so you assume that they will be doing something similar to what they’ve done in the past.”
Duncan thinks the effect of that will be felt later in the season.
“I still think that early in the season it’s more about you than the other team,” he said. “We’ve been lucky to get some games in here early. It’s hitting us now and it’s going to be harder.”
The schedule says Logansport will be in town on Tuesday – as of this writing. That game has already been changed once to allow both teams to play a JV contest, the Lady Pilgrims first since week one of the season.
“They (JV and freshman) are getting their practices in and Tuesday they should be ready to play,” said Duncan. “We were scheduled to play Monday but we were able to get that game changed to Tuesday when they will have all their practices in.”
“We are appreciative of that. If they (Logansport) don’t agree to move it we probably couldn’t have a game and we wouldn’t have a JV game. It’s important and we need to get some game reps with our younger kids that they haven’t had up to now.”
“We will have to move some kids to fill the varsity roster,” said Duncan. “You just go with the flow and deal with what’s thrown at you.”
“That’s the thing about this year for our players. You never know when you’re number is going to be called.”
Duncan’s team is hoping somehow to maintain some of the momentum that had the arrow pointing drastically upward for the season.
“I think the growth in that one week (before Michigan City) was tremendous,” said Duncan. “That’s the way we felt. This is a little bit of a setback. Not just for the team but for those players that are out. Now they have to get back and recondition and get the reps back they lost out on for a couple of weeks. Those are big factors for us right now.”
The opportunities to stay in playing shape are limited for those forced to sit out with no contact with the team.
“The weather has been nice, maybe get outside and shoot a little bit,” said Duncan. “Just don’t sit around the house. Even then when you get back your lungs are going to burn a little bit.”