Netball was more interesting than usual last night. Ever since the centres started posting their points ladders and draws on line, the statisticians in the team have had a field day, as well as drawing useful information about the nights opposition.
Mostly useful anyway. Last night my current Monday night team 'Artless Zen' (occasionally known as 'The mighty Zen' encountered the top of the table 'Silver Perms' (the randomness of social Indoor Netball team names hasn't really gotten old yet, even after 13 years (Crikey!) in the game).
I often partake in a little on line research before the game to get an idea of form, and figure out what sort of game we might expect, which is probably counter productive when an 'easy' team turns out to be 'hard' due to false expectations, but satisfies idle curiosity anyway. Also I tend to remember what the other teams in our grade were like the last time we played them without recourse to the internet.
The Perms though were a mystery in the latter regard, since we hadn't played them yet this season. They had however beaten every other team in the grade, and averaged a respectable 40ish points per game in the process. Zen on the other hand had only lost one game so far, but had lots of narrow (by less than 6 point) wins. Knowing that this was a top of the table game added a certain frisson to things. I don't take the game as seriously as I used to, but I still like to win. On paper our opposition looked intimidating
Further frissonage was added courtside when they turned up for the game. You can get a rough idea about how clued up and good a team is by checking them out before the game. They looked good, and I wasn't too confident about our chances of victory. My normal underrating of myself added to the feeling - "they look like better players than me" etc etc.
So we get the game started, and it was a bit messy. Both teams defended well, but their offenses took a little time to get organised. Meanwhile I realised early on that while the guy I was marking looked capable (and was) I could mark him out of the game most of the time. The first chink in the armour of formidability was noted. They were also going for 2 shots and missing, and fouling a lot in the circle.
A little later on I noticed we were going point for point and I thought "hey these guys aren't as good as I expected". The chink was turning into a crack. Far from adding to the oppositions list of victories, we were competing, and leading a lot of the time.
That changed in the third quarter though when they started landing some 2's and lifted their game a little, and opened up a 5 point lead and I thought "this is why they are top of the table". We weren't landing our 2's, and the game was slowly being taken away from us. We were staying in touch though by ticking over the 1's nearly everytime we got the ball to the circle.
Still, at the start of the last quarter we were still four points down and I thought "We can make that up but its an ask the way they are scoring at the other end" and resolved to lift my game a bit and play as hard as I could to the end of the game. Turns out the rest of my team had the same idea, and basically shut the opposition 2 point shooters down. With them missing, the game was anyone's. We took the lead with about a minute to go, and looked good to extend it only to lose the ball and go level with about 30 seconds to go. The last thirty seconds passed with a wild combination of dropped passes, fumbled ball, missed shots, everybody yelling advice and encouragement (including other teams in our grade on adjacent courts who had finished before us and were watching) before the game ended.
In a draw. We could have won, we didn't win, but we didn't lose either, and I am happy enough with being in the only team the Perms haven't beaten this season, holding them to one of their lowest scores of the season in the process. Plus I know that they are very beatable now, which is good since I think we will be rematching in a final not too long from now. Looking forward to it.
Exemplifying the randomness, here are some of the Indoor Netball team names I have played for over the years. I can't begin to remember them all:
Fully Flavoured (named after something read on a beer label), The Ramons, Artless Zen, Random, The Screaming Orgasms, Suspect, Spahtanz, Teachers Pet, I Pity The Fool, Sparkle Motion, Tigers go Grrr, Guns go Bang, Cows go Moo, Balls on Top.