I wrote about some things that irritated me while watching Jackson play on Wednesday, turns out I unknowingly dipped into a very hot topic. I intentionally wrote the original article with broad statements and descriptions. I probably made a mistake doing that. I received so many positive responses from parents and players and even followers that have nothing to do with Jackson. After finding out that the article was making its rounds on message boards I saw that it was being looked at in the wrong light. My fear is that some people were showing support and agreeing with something that I wasn’t trying to project. Though I risk losing some support from people, I feel it’s important for me to keep my integrity and clear up exactly what I meant. I sincerely appreciate the support but I’ll never accept public support in exchange for getting what I wanted said, understood. If I were to do that it would be extremely weak minded of myself and an injustice to the Jackson team, parents and fans. Hopefully the wrong impression wasn’t taken by as many people as I thought.
This time I won’t be vague, I will be specific in order to leave no grey area…
Keep in mind I formed my views without any of the backup issues that the Jackson people struggle with. I only know Coach Butch in passing, I am 0-2 in coaching matchups with him in my career, I’ve talked to him one time this summer at a middle school league. Though I believe he is perfectly capable of doing the job I have no dog in that fight. I have no idea whose parents have all the money, whose parents are on the Board or most influential. I obviously don’t have any connection with any Jackson players, therefore have no preconceived ideas. I have my opinions based solely off of the games I’ve attended and things I’ve heard and observed while there.
The one thing I did know going into this was that Mr. Grace has quite the reputation, and I want to be very clear about this…I was not pointing him out in any way at all. I am also not defending him at all. If anyone thinks that is what I had in mind that is a cop-out and diverting any fault from themselves and whoever else is just as deserving. Without knowing whose parents are whose I heard lots of negativity, and Mr. Grace wasn’t even around.
The biggest injustice is the fact that in my opinion the parents and fans take out their frustration with her dad on Landrie. The fans, I’m assuming some or most were parents, were trashing Landrie and yelling for her not to shoot, making comments like “you won’t get the ball back if you pass it to her”. If you had any sense of reality, as opposed to only recognizing your daughter isn’t scoring as much or shooting as much, you’d realize Landrie is probably also leading the team in assists. At the very least she does an above average job of finding open players and drawing double teams that results in easy baskets for others. She has a unique set of skills that raise the level of the Polar Bears, and you might be shocked to see the difference if you had to play without her. Although many people like to criticize her shot selection, having a player with her range and ability to pull up in transition as well as she does benefits the team in ways most casual observers wouldn’t understand. I’ve talked to Landrie, she realizes she takes some bad shots, she wants to improve and make some better decisions, but I can promise you that publicly scrutinizing a teenage student-athlete isn’t the way to help her get there.
Landrie clearly isn’t without fault but she also doesn’t deserve to be addressed the way she does. Unfortunately it doesn’t stop there. So many people are complaining about using the posts so much. So the guards shoot too much and the posts are too involved, I can’t imagine what the fans want. Then there was complaining that they only scored 29 points against a top 10 team in the state. Since when is a coach terrible for holding a powerful undefeated team to almost half their average and losing by 5 points? The whole situation is magnified and blown out of proportion by people who have no understanding of basketball. It honestly seems like not one player on the team is exempt from the criticism.
If parents only realized how much leverage their words carry. These girls can’t develop continuity and trust to their fullest potential if they’re going home every day hearing how so and so should pass more or the posts aren’t carrying their weight, it’s just not possible. Once people start supporting everyone, Mr. Grace included, you will see a little sharper team, a less hesitant team, a smarter and more free-flowing team. They will then be able to play without reservation, worrying about who they should pass it to or who they shouldn’t. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this team is loaded with talent! They have four guards that are better than any other four guards in the Federal League and the county. They have above average height and posts, each excelling in a different area. Not everyone can score the points, and every rebound can only be had by one person. When the parents and fans allow their child to be a part of the team and not always strive to increase their recognition then things will work more smoothly. No one person is more important than any other! This surely isn’t a last place team, no one can be happy with that. I understand the frustration from the players and parents.
For what its worth this team is 8 points way from beating Lake, McKinley and Stow, and being the second/third best team in the league. They honestly are that close. They are athletic enough to play with almost anyone. To put things into perspective, in the Lake and McKinley game they were one possession from a win. There’s no way to tell but think of how many turnovers may have been a result of a player not wanting to pass to someone or not making the extra pass for a basket just because they wanted to score or second guessing based off of the negativity they hear from their parents.
I honestly did see a difference Saturday in the half I seen. There was an impressive stretch of team basketball and distributing, everyone was making the right pass for a score. The fans also were behind the team in what seemed to be more of a united fashion. Against Stow there was a lot of complaining and moaning and worrying about who was doing what, Saturday it seemed like the fans were more supportive after timeouts and seemed to be more of a solid group. This issue may be laughed at but I’m telling you right now that this Jackson team may be the best team in the league next year. Parents might as well start checking the egos at the door if you want the best for this team moving forward.
I’m hoping this clears my thinking up, and forces everyone to take a look at how they’ve been acting and talking negatively about the players, coaches and team. Or you could think I’m a foolish outsider that should mind his own business, I’d suggest you take a good look at what I’m trying to say as an unbiased point of view. Negativity is never a good thing. Of course not everyone is guilty and if you’re a parent who supports the team and players unconditionally I commend you. It’s also not just a Jackson issue, but most teams aren’t so close to success. I’m excited to swing by a few more times this year and see the team play some big games…be patient and positive and you might just see the next step happen.