Yes, it’s that time of year again … March Madness … when anyone who loves B-Ball forgets all else for a few short weeks.
As much as I love the game—from my high school days through 20 years of announcing both boys’ and girls’ games at my alma mater—I’ve always felt the game mirrored life in so many ways. There always seemed to be valuable lessons to learn on the court and yet, ultimately, many never seemed to learn many of the most crucial and often times most obvious. The same certainly holds true today.
As we advance into the NCAA “Sweet Sixteen,” I couldn’t help but notice an ever-emerging trend in the bracket results thus far.
- 5 teams have been eliminated after losing by a mere THREE POINTS!
- 5 teams are now history after being beaten by only TWO POINTS!
- 3 teams have had their Championship Dreams destroyed by coming up ONE POINT short at the buzzer!
Now for those who constantly tell us: “DON’T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF!” … I’d love to invite you into the locker rooms of the above 13 teams to spread your gospel.
A free throw is considered “small stuff” by far too many people on and off the court! To others it’s the decisive factor between a very long and challenging winning or losing season!
I watched one of my favorite teams, heavily favored by the way, get booted out of the Big Ten Tournament in their first game. Simple math tells the ugly story.
- They lost by just 5 points.
- They missed 15 free throws!
- They’re still in the NCAA “Sweet 16.”
Another simple explanation:
- They won their first game by just 3 points.
- They won their second game by only 2 points!
Oddly enough, they enhanced their free throw percentage since the Big Ten Tourney!
Over my 20-year career as an announcer for hundreds of games, I lost count of the games that were decided by missed free throws!
My advice to any coach or player: “SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF” … free throws, dribbling, passing, blocking, rebounding, teamwork, communication, practice, concentration, attitude, etc. —all considered “small stuff” by many high school, college, and professional players and coaches today. Think not? Read the newspapers. Watch TV. Go to a game.
Yet, study any winning program and you’ll find an extreme focus on the “small stuff” which, in the end, is critical to the success of individuals and teams alike.
The same holds true in our personal lives and our careers. Take care of the details and “Big Stuff” seems to take care of itself. Think about it.