I had an old coach that applied the "sandwich" technique when critiquing his players after a performance.
The sandwich approach basically meant, starting with a positive, then moving to the meat of the criticism, then eventually finishing with a positive. This technique tends to work well. You become engaged when you hear the positive and more open to the criticism, then you leave the conversation in a good frame of mind, with a clearer sense of what to improve on.
In my final blog of the year, that is how I will break down our season.
I know being a 6-12 team would suggest that there were not a lot of positives to the season, but when you step back and examine things with an objective and clear mind, there are some encouraging signs and some players that really had breakout seasons.
There was a lot of uncertainty heading into the season with some of our key players and draft picks electing not to play due to national team and MLL obligations. In some ways, it felt like we were starting over with a new set of teammates and definitely a different vibe and feel in the locker room.
Two players that really emerged from our rookie training camp, kind of unexpectedly, were John Ranagan and Garrett Thul. Both players are established in the field game, but had never played indoor lacrosse prior to the season. It was easy to see their skill and athleticism and overall potential. What impressed me the most was their willingness to learn, their competition level and toughness. They seemed to get better each game.
Other young players such as Pat Saunders and Kyle Buchanan also stepped up to play important roles for us throughout the season, proving that sometimes all you need is an opportunity. It was also great to see guys like Jordan Hall and Tracey Kelusky have standout years. They were two veteran players that meant so much to our team, on and off the floor.
In terms of critiquing our season and looking at what went wrong, you really have to look at our 6-game losing streak.
We couldn't stop the bleeding. Look at a couple of our losses in that stretch. If we could have just found a way to come out with a win, it would have changed the entire complexion of our season. I guess that is what separates the mediocre teams from the great teams. The great teams find a way and earn the breaks in the big moments and we didn't do that.
Moving forward I think this team has a lot of potential. We have some great long-term building blocks in players like Kevin Crowley and Evan Kirk (among others). I felt like we played our best lacrosse in some of our most meaningful games down the stretch. We wish we had just a little more time.
It means a lot when you continue to see the great support from our Philadelphia fans. Believe me, the players want nothing more than to deliver a winning team for this city. We just came up a little short. That being said, we have to be held accountable. It is important that look within, not accept the results, and look for ways to improve and take the next step.
Thanks for your support,