The unpleasantness of bye weeks, which has become a part of the NLL schedule, unfortunately, produces an inferior product out on the field.
You just can’t expect these elite players, which depend on strength, intense cardio and recovery during a real game, to simulate such for three weeks between games. You’re never going to get a peak performance, and if you do, it only lasts so long.
Such was the case last Saturday night as the Bandits became fatigued following a spirited first quarter to the point where they couldn’t do much right, falling prey to the talented Halifax Thunderbirds 15-10.
As my broadcast partner Randy Mearns mentioned, from his experience as a coach and player in situations like this, you just have to fight through it, never give up, and finish on a respectable note. At least the Bandits did just that, scoring four goals in a little over three minutes – two within eight seconds – near the end of the game.
But let’s face it, the positioning, shots, resets and communication was way off.
“Never fun,” Josh Byrne said.
“We weren’t sharp,” said Dhane Smith. “But we are going to be better. Just two games in, there is no hitting the panic button.”
“We could have folded up shop in the third quarter, but we all kept going. You can’t take the three weeks off as an excuse,” Ian MacKay noted.
This now has turned into a cold-hard reality check for every member of the Bandits. Commitment, focus, and being a better player.
Every team in this league will go through these ill-timed bye weeks, and now it has become a very important part of coaching technique and team chemistry and depth.
“We are all in communication with each other pretty regularly. We are practicing every week, but we are definitely doing a lot on our own time,” defenseman Matt Spanger said. “We have a pretty tight-knit group here, so we’re all pretty active in the group chat and talking to each other.
“It’s definitely like a family. We do have a lot of depth on our team this year, which I think it’s going to be very important as we go deep into the season.”
The Bandits will take the entire week to regroup because there is no game – again – this weekend. It will be up to the players to stay in shape, work out on their own, and set their sights for next week in preparation for their first road game in Georgia.
Let’s just think of it as the Bandits wanted to give full attention to the Bills in their first-round playoff game Saturday in Houston against the Texans. Yeah, that’s the ticket.
No more mention or complaining of bye weeks. It’s a part of the game now.
Happy New Year, Banditland!