South Orange, NJ - Following the DePaul Blue Demons' 71-59 victory over Seton Hall Pirates on Saturday, I caught up with Anna Martin of DePaul.
A junior guard, Martin scored 18 points and added 4 steals in the victory. The three questions, plus one courtesy of Anna, follow.
SA: How has your role changed with the injuries DePaul has weathered this season?
AM: I have had to step up a lot. We all have had to step up as a team and not just games but everyday. I have been getting involved more offensively but offense, defense, both areas are important and we all have to be more aggressive in what we do."
SA: Down the stretch what does DePaul need to work on?
AM: "We have to realize, when we get leads teams are going to make a run and challenge us. We have to not get down on ourselves when teams do rally. We have to get back to what got us the lead and finish those games out."
SA: Coming off a heart breaking loss Tuesday at Rutgers, you came into face a Seton Hall team that is winless in conference but plays hard. What message did coach (Doug Bruno) give the team?
AM: "He (Bruno) emphasized not to look at Seton Hall's overall record in conference. They are a good team with some nice early season wins. We watched film of their recent games and went over matchups. Basically the biggest message coach gave us was that the Big East is outstanding because a team at the bottom, right now, like Seton Hall will give you a challenge and you must be ready to play."
Speaking casually with Anna, told her I have been officiating 23 years. To which she asked me, "Do you feel the quality or skill of the individual player is decreasing?"
My response was over the years the approach and knowledge of the game has improved. When I started, a fifth or sixth grade girls team would walk the ball up the floor and passively pass until someone open could get a shot. Now teams know a few sets and defenses.
Individually, the skills are eroding. From Travel to AAU the premium is on games not practices. In practice a coach, who may be a well meaning parent but not a true teacher/coach . Might spend little time on fundamentals. The younger kids need that fundamental training is just not there so the skills suffer.