Is going thru a high school basketball season undefeated and then being the number one seed and the big tournament favorite all that it is made up to be?
Is it better to have lost a game during the regular season to take the pressure off the undefeated season?
There is no question that all the pressure is really on an undefeated number one team.
If they win the tournament then most everyone will say, well you had the best team and talent so you should have won and if you get upset by the lower seed then many of the same people will ask what to heck happened to you. Undefeated teams are in a no win situation.
The enthusiasm and joy of winning a tournament and still being undefeated is not near the agony and disappointment of being upset, especially in the opening quarter-final round.
When an undefeated team is beaten in an upset by a 8th seed or lower in a quarter-final game, they not only lose a chance to win the tournament, they lose a game and they also lose an undefeated season.
As a high school coach I have been on both sides of the river and even in the river in this situation of being undefeated going in number one or playing an undefeated number one team as the 8th seed or lower team.
Two of my teams had undefeated seasons and won state championships to end up 22-0 each season.
We were picked in the pre-season as the over whelming favorites to win Eastern Maine Championships. The pressure of going undefeated was enormous and we were all more relieved when we won those state championships than we were happy as we kept our undefeated season in tact.
There was more of a great sense of relief, especially of having all the pressure and high expectations from the Maine high school basketball world lifted from our shoulders then there was of joy and excitement.
Many basketball fans root for the underdog unless of course it’s their team that is the undefeated top seed.
If you have never been in that position of being undefeated, seeded number one and expected to win a state championship as a player or a coach, you really do not understand the pressure high school age teenagers face, especially when most everyone in the gym except their fans want to see them get upset.
You also do not know the real feelings of relief and the thrill of victory when you win it and all of the agony of the defeat if you are upset especially in that opening round.
I can remember one season when one of my teams was seeded 8th and we upset the number one undefeated top seeded team in the quarter-finals. As excited and as happy as I was for the upset win for my team, I really felt bad for the top seeded teams players and coaches.
I felt from experience of having been in that situation before.
The biggest thing a coach can do for his/her players is to get them together after the game in the locker room and try to relieve their pain and disappointment.
Also, I found it very helpful to have a special team get together for a meal and comradary to try to end the season on a positive note.
I have never felt comfortable as a coach watching an undefeated team and top seeded team get upset in the opening round of a tournament because I know the feelings and heartache for the players, especially for the seniors.
The underdog plays with little pressure as they have nothing to lose and everything to gain, while the undefeated and top seeded team has everything to lose and nothing to gain because of the pressure of being expected to win.
Therefore, I can understand the excitement and joy of the Gardner Girls, but I understand more the agony and disappointment of the MDI Girls because some of my players and I “have been there, done that” on both sides of a quarter-final upset by and 8 seed or lower over an undefeated 1 seed.
Time and patience, which neither which you can purchase, will eventually ease the pain of the upset loss.