Have you been having trouble this week keeping track of what day it is? I’m not complaining about the Thursday Holidays, mind you – but it’s made for some serious disorientation. Nice and quiet at work, though. I’ve been digging through things I hadn’t gotten to for months, and my in-box is down to just a few items – great feeling for starting 2009! Here at home I’ve been experimenting with Picasa and uploaded my first Web Album. Whaddya think? But enough about me. How about HollyCornblog?
HollyCornblog rang in the new year at home with CharlieHopbrew … where they roasted a 14-pound turkey in their Green Egg on New Year’s Day. (Looks yummy, doesn’t it? Apparently, it cooked a wee bit longer than intended … so after a meal, much of it has gone into a scrumptious turkey soup.) Sounds pretty good to me, either way!
And what about Pia, you ask?
Found an excellent interview with her in Soccer America Magazine titled “Pia Sundhage The Agent of Change.”
Q: One element of the U.S. game you wanted to improve was its ability to play the ball out of the back. How did you do this with more or less the same players?
A: We gave expectations to the backline to be good with the ball, not just me, but the whole coaching staff. I showed them with my body language. If you’re first to the ball and you kick it out of bounds, honestly, I think that’s bad. Why not take another step and play it back to the goalkeeper? Just keep it.
All of us were telling them they were good enough to do it. Look at Kate today. You wouldn’t say now she’s bad with the ball. She’s pretty comfortable with the ball. It takes expectations, some guidelines, and you go from there.
Then the movement off the ball will be different because they expect Kate Markgraf to keep it. You start with circles and they get bigger and bigger.
I love her clarity and outspokenness. She talks quite a bit about our center midfielders, Carli Lloyd and Shannon Boxx – and how well they played together. If I’m remembering the commentary at the time correctly, I thought that they were actually singled out for some criticism – especially for not being in sync. Pia states:
Q: The injury to Abby Wambach right before the Olympics drew a lot of attention, and Hucles stepped up to score four goals in the tournament. Yet throughout the tournament midfielders Carli Lloyd and Shannon Boxx dominated the middle of the field and they seemed especially tough in the final against Brazil. How important was their play?
A: The center mids are the heart of the team. You are asking a lot of them. They are very important. It worked perfectly at the Olympics. They brought out the best in each other. If they like to play with each other, it will be even better.
I agree with you, they were very important in the Olympics and in that Brazilian game. If you listen to the Swedish commentary they were talking about how compact they were and what big hearts they had and how they were reading the game. They were talking about Boxx and Carli quite a bit.
It’s important to have center mids regardless of the formation. You can play 4-3-3 or 4-4-2 or 3-4-3, but if you want to keep possession, and if you want to get into that kind of space – we call it space two – it’s important to have center players. If you have two or three it doesn’t matter. They should be responsible for the rhythm of the game.
Interestingly, she says a couple of times in the interview, “If they like to play with each other, it will be even better.” I wonder if there is a back story there.
There were also a couple of Pia-related stories in the Swedish press, here and here …the latter looking like an interesting write-up of Pia’s impact on Swedish soccer, as a role model for women – and a maverick in the best, non-debased sense of the word! (GoogleTranslate did a nice enough job to give me the gist of the piece.)
It’s snowing rather hard here at the moment – and I’ve gotta get into town to do the food shopping. Hmmm. Today’s the start of some serious NFL action (sorry Alice), as well as some women’s college b-ball. Here’s a TV Schedule for Women’s College B-ball (I’ll be adding this to my sidebar). Please note – all times are Central. Also found a great collection of Women’s basketball links compiled by Mary Jo Haverbeck … we thank you!!! It’s time to start studying up for March Madness, folks. (Mo is already way ahead of us all on that front!)
What’s on tap for today in Women’s b-ball? Let’s see! (As noted on the TV site – times are Central. So don’t forget to “translate … and you may want to double check before game time to make sure you’re not going to miss something!)
|LSU at UConn||11:00am||CBS|
|Minnesota at Illinois||11:00am||CBS|
|Tennessee at Rutgers||1:00||CBS|
|Villanova at Cincinnati||1:00||Big East Sports Network|
|Vanderbilt at Iowa State||2:00||Mediacom|
|Washington State at Washington||3:00||Fox Sports Net|
|Navy at Air Force||4:30||The Mtn.|
|Eastern Illinois at Jacksonville State||5:00||ESPNU|
|South Florida at Marquette||7:00||Time Warner Sports|