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The preseason grind

By: Jim Linsdau News Messenger/Placer Herald Sports
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It is inevitable that basketball programs would pit their skills against some of the toughest competition around when scheduling games for the preseason. Coaches basically have just one month to prepare for league play with CIF restrictions limiting practice, and the holidays taking up a big part of the time available. Coaches and players know they have to combine all that activity into a small package and hope the result will be operating at peak performance when contesting for the conference title. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out that way as there is the risk the effort will take too great a toll on the team physically and mentally. During a recent post-Christmas basketball tournament I asked Laguna Creek’s head coach, Paul Casey, what he like best about his team’s win in their final game. His answer was revealing. “I liked, for the most part, that we competed on the third day,” said Casey. “When you’re not in the championship game it’s hard to get motivated, and I think for both teams it was going to be a question of which one was going to have any energy.” Casey also mentioned he was missing four of his players and would have to work them back into the lineup in the short time remaining before league was to begin. Although today’s athletes are in tremendous shape, injuries are still inevitable. New training techniques and equipment have been a great help, but bumps, bruises, and breaks still happen. Lincoln’s Cassandra Jaimes just recently rejoined her team after fracturing a bone in her foot. She said she still feels pain, but with taping and braces was able to work through it. Whitney head coach, Matt Rickabaugh, said player Matt Gruber would also be rejoining the team after suffering an ankle injury against Del Oro. There was concern he might be lost for the season. Coaches and players don’t want any surprises when they begin the conference title chase. They want to have seen it all, and unfortunately, some of what they see isn’t pretty. Perhaps it’s Darwin’s “survival of the fittest” with a good deal of skill and motivation thrown in. But, when league play arrives, most will have seen it all.