Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Slumped

Let's address the elephant in the room:

I'm a shooter who wears a shooter's sleeve who can't shoot. 

In kinder words, I'm in a slump.


Out of the past four years, this has been the worst drought of my career. I've been purposefully avoiding the stat sheet because, well, it's not too hard to calculate a bunch of goose eggs. 

But, we're winning. 

My team's good. I'm shooting this poorly yet we're still cranking out W's. I'm shooting this poorly yet my coaches are still telling me to shoot. I'm shooting this poorly yet my point guard keeps passing me the ball. I'm shooting this poorly yet the only negative voice I'm hearing is in my own head.

Shooters shoot. 

How does a shooter get out of a slump? They shoot out of it. 

Yeah, yeah, yeah we've heard it all before.

"Keep shooting."
"You're hesitating."
"Don't overthink it."

I missed this.

And this.
Kari & I were a combined 1-17 this game. 
I made the one. Nbd.

My dad called me the other day and told me a story. It was long and drawn out and I spaced out a few times, but nonetheless, he hit the nail on the head.

"What do you say to yourself after you miss a shot?"
"Dad, you know how much I like to shoot. If I miss one, it doesn't matter. You know the next one is going up."
"Let me ask you one more time. What do you say to yourself after you miss a shot?"
"I'll make the next one."
"See, that's negative."
"Huh? No, I'm being positive."
"Think about that statement, Nicole. You're acknowledging the fact that you missed your last shot. That's negative thinking. What you should be saying is 'Give me the dang ball. This is cash.'"

Francis knows. 

Ya see, I've been that player from the day I was born. Every time I touch it I want to shoot it because I know it's going in. Why do I think that? Because of the countless hours I've put in doing just that. From when I was 3 and couldn't even hit rim on a ten foot goal, I'd be out there for hours heaving it up there till I did.

Confidence comes from preparation. 

And that's something I've been lacking lately. Confidence. And preparation. 

Coach gave us two days off this week. Today and tomorrow. For any of you who know Cori Close, THIS IS HUGE.


After yet another night of sulking in sadness due to a treacherous shooting performance the night before, I crawled into my roommate's bed.

"Kari, will you shoot with me?"

For those of you who do not know, Kari went 6-11 from 3 last night. She's wise counsel to seek.

We woke up this morning, despite our precious "off-day sleep-in" routine, and shot. 

Confidence comes from preparation. 

500 shots later, we finished at 80%. Put me in the game, coach.

During season, sometimes one can get too caught up on the game plan. 
Too caught up on the scout.
Too caught up on recovery. 
Too caught up in your weaknesses, and not your strengths.

Now known as a defensive stopper.

In order to get out of my slump, I do need to shoot out of it. 
I do need to not overthink it. 
I do need to stop hesitating. 
But what I really need to do is practice.

Shooting with Kari this morning was so fun. I got lost in the game again. I got lost in the fun. I got lost in playing with my best friend. I got lost in competing.


Tomorrow morning we're going to do the same thing. The next day too, and the day after that, and the day after that. All the way up until we play Cal on Friday.

This is my last go-around. I'm done playing the sport I've played since I was 3 in exactly two months. I can't just wake up in the morning and hope I shoot better next game.

To be honest, as of late, the joy of playing basketball has started to wane. Yes, we're winning and yes that is the most important part, but it is my senior year. This is my last shot. I'm here at UCLA, the happiest I've ever been, shooting the worst I ever have. In order to change the latter I need to do something about it. I need to take matters into my own hands.



Kari doesn't need to. Kari plays almost 40 minutes a game. Her grandma fifth year knees need rest.


But me? I'm a role player. 

I'm a fifth year senior who doesn't start. 

And I'm not afraid to say it. 


My freshman year? I was afraid to say it. It was my main focus to never ever ever be second string. I wanted to be a bad mamba jamba. Three years later, it's safe to say I'm still not the star. I'm a role player. And that's okay. 

Now he's the star.
Oh, how the tables have turned.

Have you seen Jordin Canada and Monique Billings? They're my teammates. And they're on another level. Mo almost dunked on a girl last week. My vertical is about that of a loose leaf sheet of paper. 

I'm framing this for my daughter one day.

Best seat in the house, amirite??
Yeah that's my leg bottom left.
I tripped after selflessly giving her this assist on a breakaway.
Can't you tell why? #LooseLeaf

The coolest part about role players, though? Come March they make or break teams. It's about the work in the dark that comes to light in March. All 14 girls are needed in March. Foul trouble, injuries, (slumps) all seem to take shape during this madness, and more times than none, that's when us role players better step up to the plate.

With that being said, I'm not playing 40 minutes a game. I don't need to rest my weary fifth year playing knees. I need to shoot. I need to be prepared. Because the opportunity may present itself in a big way very, very soon. 

Just after one day of extra shooting my shot feels so much better. I feel so much lighter. I feel so much smoother. I feel like Kobe.

I made this one.

See?

I'm a shooter who wears a shooter's sleeve who can really shoot.

15 comments:

  1. Bad. Ass! Shoot away shooter! I'm sharing this with my 7th grade girl (& fellow role-player).

    ReplyDelete
  2. Let it fly! I'll be looking for you on TV and I'm volunteering at the Final Four so we can meet. Make sure your mom saves me a seat. 😁

    ReplyDelete
  3. I went to school with your mom at Chamberlain. Me my girlfriend, our 8 yr old daughter and maybe another friend who is a huge UCLA fan are coming to watch y'all play Cal on Friday. Your mom shared your blog. Great piece, your dad is spot on. Cash money. Also, you're right. I had an argument with a good friend about basketball years ago. He was all about Bball championships are because of the star player. I pointed out for every Bird, Magic, Michael, Kobe abd LeBron, there was Sischting, Cooper and Rambis, Paxton and Armstrong, Madsen, and Miller and Thompson. Nobody wins anything without that one shot, that one rebound, that one loose ball, that positive attitude off the bench, and that one play without a stat. Those win. And those come before the ball is ever tipped.


    PS, your mom was the opposite of athlete, so you've overcome a great burden.

    (Just poking fun Trac)

    Good luck Friday, and in the Tounament

    Blake.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Love your blog! I will share this with my high school basketball team.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I don't know you but this is AWESOMENESS!!! Hope to see you in Dallas at the Final Four shooting!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Nicole -

    As a Ucla WBB season ticket holder and Bruin Elite I have witnessed and shared your agony with your recent shooting struggles both at Pauley and on the road. That said I think it important to highlight those two end-of-period three-pointers that kept your team within striking distance against Oregon State and ended up being critical to your eventual win and, more importantly, kept our Bruins in contention for the conference lead. I also have to mention that highlight behind-the-back to Jordin against the Wildcats. I hope the coaching staff didn't give you too much heat for that pass.

    I look forward to seeing you finishing the rest of your final season strong. From your words and actions it is clear that you are the consumate team player and garner the respect of your teammates. Good luck and keep shooting.

    Fred Uno
    Ucla '75

    ReplyDelete
  7. That behind-the-back pass got me out of my seat yelling!! ���������� ������

    ReplyDelete
  8. Girl! I have read this 5 times TODAY! Read it aloud to my JV girl and sent it to my varsity. One baller (also slumped) yelled out, "SHE SAID IT PERFECTLY!" Another said, "now we know why you love her." #notashamed

    You ARE a bad Mamba Jamba, agent Zero, 3point Sniper with a powerful personality and the ability to influence and resonate with all you come in contact with. I saw it from the moment I met you. You're impressive on AND off the court. UCLA is so blessed to have you on their team. I'll miss you next year but I won't forget you. #putNicolebackin This Terp loves That Bruin.

    pS that clap video is just YES YES YES! As someone on IG said, Love your "extra"

    ReplyDelete
  9. You don't know me but I know Andrew Eppes, and saw it on his feed. Thanks for sharing! Keep shooting and keep writing !!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Nicole -- LOVED reading this article and will read more of your work this season...thought I'd share a quick bit from my experience as a reporter covering sports. I covered a CBA basketball team in Omaha many moons ago, and one night their star shooting guard went ICE COLD for three periods...couldn't hit water if he fell out of a boat, it was that bad. His team was down 23 going to the fourth, and then he caught fire and couldn't miss. He hit five 3's in the fourth, his team outscored the opponent something like 33-5 and won the game. I asked him afterward what was different about the fourth quarter from the first three, and he said that his old coach told him, "If you're cold, you keep shooting until you get hot. If you're hot, just keep shooting." Keep shooting and keep writing...you obviously do well at both. Good luck the rest of this season.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I just got back from Maples Pavillion, where I personally witnessed Nicole Kornet drive big ugly nails right into the coffin of the Stanford Cardinal. 2 huge treys! Nails defense! Ice-water-in-the-veins free throw shooting! A key charge! A serious baller drive to the rack.

    No Nicole Kornet tonight, no Bruin win at Maples tonight. But as it worked out: UCLA just beat Stanford on its own home floor for the since 1999. 1999!!! When Bill Clinton was President. That's 4 Presidents ago!

    Congrats, Nicole. Congrats to the whole Bruin team. What a blast to watch.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hey Nicole -

    Mission accomplished! You found ways to contribute when your shot didn't fall early and when the ball dropped through the net on that first three I felt sooo happy for you and the team. You then dropped the old fashioned and one and hit your second three pointer to keep Stanford at bay. Sealed the game late with your clutch free throws.

    As Pat said you stepped up and delivered when the team needed you to do so. You can look back at this team win and beam with pride that you helped snap the road losing streak to ranked teams and the 19 game losing streak at Maples.

    Now keep it going and keep shooting.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Thank you so much for this! I'm sharing this with my 8th grader with high aspirations in basketball and she was a "role player" instead of the starter last year. This was following a year of sitting out due to a broken arm 2x. Blessings! Can't wait to read the next article

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thank you so much for this! I'm sharing this with my 8th grader with high aspirations in basketball and she was a "role player" instead of the starter last year. This was following a year of sitting out due to a broken arm 2x. Blessings! Can't wait to read the next article

    ReplyDelete