The key to roster building

By ALEX SPONSELLER
Posted 10/22/20

In my opinion, the most important thing to consider during roster building is depth. Of course, talent, character, reliability, health, all of that matters and plays a role in a team's success. But in terms of strictly roster construction at all levels

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The key to roster building

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In my opinion, the most important thing to consider during roster building is depth.

Of course, talent, character, reliability, health, all of that matters and plays a role in a team’s success. But in terms of strictly roster construction at all levels of team sports, depth is the most key.

The reason why I am bringing this up is because last week I covered the Cranston West girls tennis team which beat Chariho and has gotten off to a strong 5-1 start to begin the fall.

The club has had strong numbers the past two seasons which has been vital in its ability to be one of the top teams in the division.

This year so far has been no different, and last week’s match against Chariho was the prime example.

West was down two of their singles player … captains Savanna Rasombath and Olivia Martin. In high school tennis, being down one starter is tough enough, but to be down two? With each being a captain? That’s when it becomes a pretty big disadvantage.

However, the Lady Falcons rolled to a 5-2 win and didn’t miss a beat.

It’s easy for any team to have a couple of standout players to lead the way, especially in the regular season. It’s also easy for a team to lack assets but have enough coaching and grit to win as well. Obviously you would like to have each somewhere in the middle.

But when looking at those two scenarios and considering the importance of high-end talent and coaching, I still think depth trumps each. To have a starting lineup followed by a capable bench to roll out there each game or match? That not only gives you plenty of productivity, but it also gives you health insurance, flexibility in the X’s and O’s, and the ability to keep players fresh and able to wear down the opposition.

Depth is applied and valued a little bit differently sport to sport, but for tennis, this was a great example of how important having good numbers is. I am not sure how long these two girls will be out of commission, but for many teams, most teams in fact, losing two starters is a huge blow and sometimes can be the difference between competing for a state championship and not. It’s a little early to be making predictions, but I feel like it is evident that this West team has all the pieces to win it all, especially if it gets back to full strength soon.

By the way, the two girls that filled in for them - Mia Buco and Sanjana Ananthula - each took home wins.

Speaking of teams with championship aspirations, it looks like both the Pilgrim boys and girls soccer teams will also be in the hunt for state championships once again.

The boys won two seasons ago and were the favorite heading into last fall’s postseason. As we know, they fell early in the playoffs to the surprise of most. As for the girls, they went undefeated in the regular season but also unexpectedly came up short.

Pilgrim soccer has been some of the best and most consistent in the state over the past few years, but when each program fell prematurely last fall, I did wonder how they would respond this season.

Let’s not be ridiculous here, each team made the playoffs last year, it’s not like either laid an egg. But to come up short when expectations were so high … I’m sure it was a tough pill to swallow for each club.

However, the girls are off to a 2-0 start and looked championship ready in their 9-1 thumping of Coventry, and the boys rebounded from a tough opening day loss to roll to a 6-0 shutout over rival Toll Gate on senior night. Although Toll Gate lost a pretty large core from last season, it still was the state finalist and should be competitive again this year.

It’s early in the season, but I do think we have seen enough already to suggest that these teams will once again be in the playoffs (assuming the league holds a postseason) and will be contenders for championships. The past two seasons they have each been in position to get the double win, boys and girls, but maybe the third time will be the charm.

For my next item, I won’t mention which team it was, but like every week, I have to vent a bit here.

As the game was rolling along and the losing team of this particular game saw its chances of winning slowly slipping away, it became an on-field finger pointing match between a few of its players.

This is a major pet peeve of mine. If I was a coach and saw my players yelling at each other, criticizing one another, I would not think twice about pulling each one of them out and throwing my bench pieces in.

I get it, I do, sometimes during tough losses your teammates drive you crazy. There are times when one will blow a big play, commit a costly penalty. But at the end of the day, finger pointing never does the trick. You want to know the easiest way to lose a game? Self destruction.

This particular team had a chance, too. The blame game did not begin in the final moments, it really began in the first half. Sure enough, things only got worse and lead fell even further out of reach.

Your teammate falls short on a play? Encourage him or her, tell them what you saw that maybe they didn’t, pick them up. Your teammate made a boneheaded penalty? Tell them to focus, relax, get back to work. Don’t call them out and blame them. That’s what the coach is for (within reason of course).

I am also not trying to downplay the importance of teamwork and collaboration. Communication is extraordinarily important when it comes to a team gelling, but communication does not mean criticism. You are in it together and it takes everyone on the roster to have success. Work as a team to build each other up, not tear each other down.

roster, sports

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