A goal, without a plan, is a wish.
That’s why the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds have a goal in mind.
It’s the Atlantic University Sport playoffs in women’s basketball.
Stop worrying about what could have been, what should have been, who’s playing, who isn’t playing and who is sitting on the opposition bench.
Otherwise, there is no goal, no plan and nothing but wishes.
The Varsity Reds, if they are to make a second half AUS charge, have nowhere to look but the mirror. And while the VReds are guaranteed a spot in the 2013 AUS Playoffs as they are hosting the tournament, their goal is more than to participate that weekend.
Head coach Jeff Speedy and his young lineup have learned some valuable lessons and even opted to get back to basics over the Christmas break. Instead of attending a holiday tournament, Speedy wanted his charges in their own gym, in their own surroundings to listen and absorb the message.
Play hard. Play to win. Play with purpose.
“There were times during the first half when we put together an outstanding first half of the game or maybe we dominated teams for a quarter here and a quarter there,” said Speedy. “We really did have some great results. But, we also lost our way and lost our confidence. So, we opted to stay together between Christmas and New Year, try to build something as a team and get some Mo Jo back.”
UNB, with a 1-7 conference mark, enters the second half with a home date Saturday, Jan. 12, at 8 p.m., at the Richard Currie Center.
The opposition is the St. Francis Xavier University X-Women, owners of a 4-4 mark and one of those teams caught in playoff scrambling traffic in the always tough, always competitive AUS.
St. FX dropped the V-Reds 88-72 earlier in the season at Antigonish, N.S.
“The game at X really mirrored our first half of the season,” said Speedy. “We fell behind early, fought hard to take the lead in the 4th quarter, only to score two hoops the rest of the way and lose by a bunch. This team has to gain some confidence. This team needs to grow. This team needs to believe and never doubt ourselves. Character doesn’t just happen to a team. It needs to be fostered and it needs momentum to build it.”
It also requires some clean slate minds.
“We know we had a tough first half, but we’re still fighting and we still have more than just a chance,” said Speedy. “That’s the motivation that’s needed. We stayed home over the holidays and allowed our players to bond in different ways than X’s and O’s. We adopted a family for Christmas, we participated in Operation Christmas Child, we volunteered at the local food bank, and went to local basketball team practices as guest coaches. All things made us feel good and enjoy doing fun and rewarding things together.”
Will it translate to wins on the court?
“We have great team chemistry … we really do,” Speedy said. “Building a team is about building trust. We’ve got a tough crew that has some chemistry and will never quit. We’re still together and still fighting. I really like that about this group.”
In addition to this weekend’s game vs St. F X, UNB will be home Jan. 18 to nationally fourth ranked St. Mary’s University Huskies and face University of Prince Edward Island Panthers on Jan. 19th.