Danielle Rodriguez blog #3: As Utah WBB is showing this season, success is often about what happens between the (stat) lines

Everyone wants to be the hero, and a lot of people think the hero of the game is usually the one with the most points or the one that makes the game-winning shot. I can honestly say there’s been times when I’ve been caught up in the amount of points I score. It’s hard not to worry about how many times you shoot the ball or score, and I know I can’t be the only one who thinks so.

Coming from high school, where I was averaging 20 points a game, it took me awhile to realize that my role on my new team was different. Especially as a point guard in the collegiate level.

I had always been that player who, after the game, immediately wanted to see the stat sheet and see for example how many points I scored or how many assists I dished out. I always based the way I played on the stat sheet.

The older I got, the more I realized the little things that matter don’t show up on the stat sheet. You don’t see a column for charges or for how many times you throw your body on the floor for a loose ball. You don’t see a column for how many times you bust your ass playing great defense, or getting a hand in the opposing player’s face to force a tough shot.

I had also never really played for a coach that really recognized those types of plays that don’t always get put on the stat sheet. Until coach (Lynne) Roberts came in and introduced us to the “Army Men”.

A charge gets you a yellow army man (which is equivalent to five green or blue army men). Every five defensive boards or four deflections gets you a green army man. Every three assists or five offensive boards gets you a blue army man. And every game, one player is given a red army man.

The red army man is given to the player who, for example, may have taken a charge at a crucial moment that changed the momentum of the game. Or to a player that had a role change for the game and stepped up to the plate and did what they were asked to do. Sometimes the red army man is given to the player with the double double, who just played an absolutely amazing game. But in all, Coach is really teaching us that the little things matter, and we are being rewarded for it.

Photo courtesy of Danielle Rodriguez

There are so many uncontrollable aspects of the game. There are going to be nights when your shot isn’t falling, nights when the calls aren’t going your way, or the ball isn’t bouncing the way you want it to. But when you learn to focus on the controllables, like stepping in and taking a charge, hustling for a rebound, making a stop on defense or making the extra pass to your teammate, you’re helping your team succeed in the long run.

While scoring points is always fun, there’s always something else you can do for your team.