You always have to be ready to make the next transition.
That's the lesson first-year Shorewood boys basketball coach Chris Hill is trying to impart to his young team as the Greyhounds got not one but two chances to advance in the WIAA Division 2 tournament last week.
Shorewood dropped a regional quarterfinal game to sixth-seeded game Milwaukee North on Feb. 28. Hill gave them the initial season-ending speech in the locker room at North shortly after the game ended, collected the uniforms and then prepared for the rest of his usual immediate postseason duties.
He was just about to do some of them around 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 1, when his Athletic Director Levar Ridgeway gave him a quick call.
The season was not over just yet.
"I got a call from the WIAA Wednesday afternoon that North had to forfeit, and we had a chance to get back into the tourney if we wanted it," Ridgeway said, "and we were happy to get another chance."
So Hill quickly had to gather everyone together in order to arrange a hasty practice at 3:45 p.m. that same day. They had another the day after.
They played a good first half against Wisconsin Lutheran in the first half of the regional semifinal, but then things got out of hand in the second half as Shorewood's season officially came to an end with a 71-40 defeat.
Hill saw the whole episode as another opportunity for his young charges to learn.
"I told them North had forfeited and we had another chance to move along," said Hill. "Fortunately, a lot of guys were still in class at that time, so I was able to get them together fairly quickly. They were excited, excited about the opportunity to play on Friday.
"It was great to have another two days of practice with them, especially the seniors," Hill said. "As it turned out, (senior) James Ewing turned in a great effort on Friday (against Lutheran)."
But Hill made sure his team knew this was about much more than just getting another chance to play.
"I talked to the guys on Tuesday night (after the North game) about just that," he said. "Do the right things, get your schoolwork in order, do the other things you're supposed to do. Then good things will happen to you. We talked again on Wednesday (after the quickly arranged practice) that sometimes you get lucky, and that the harder you work, the luckier you usually are.
"That's one Rob Jeter (his former UW-Milwaukee coach) pounded into our heads over and over. I was just glad I finally had a chance to use it."
A lesson, it appears, the Greyhounds are still trying to absorb.
Shorewood trailed Lutheran, 33-24, at the half, but things got out of hand in the second half as Hill said the Greyhounds got into a little too much one-on-one mode.
"And we're not good enough to beat many teams that way," he said. "We've got to play team ball if we want to win, and we got away from that a little. We need to share the ball, make the extra pass."
Ewing led the way with 14 points while guard DeAndre Anderson finished with 10.
Hill will try to use this rare opportunity as a building block as he prepares for next winter's season. He's trying to build a culture of success that is about far more than just an acrobatic finish to a beautiful layup.
"Take care of your schoolwork, take care of your family," he said, "because no matter how talented you are or how many championships you win, the ball will stop bouncing one day, and you will have to make a transition (to another phase in your life).
"How do your separate yourself because there are many different ways to do it? Make that good transition."