Blogs | 4/9/2014 2:41:48 PM | John Gurtler
It was no secret the Bandits were going to come out flying against the Calgary Roughnecks last Saturday night. And they lived up to the expectations, moving the ball crisply and taking good shots. Boom! Bandits up 4-0. Then it was 9-6 Bandits at halftime. Heading into the fourth quarter it was 12-9 Buffalo.
But the crazy part about this game, when a team goes for a run – like basketball – a quick six comes pretty fast and furious. Calgary triggered an excellent run, damping the effects of what was a pretty good game by the Bandits.
Between watching Saturday night’s game on replay, and the mind-numbing Monday night television programs, I was searching for answers from the five-plus minutes Calgary vacuum-packed their fourth quarter run.
I couldn’t make sense of the language dialect from the swamp hunters, back-country safe crackers and pawn shoppers on those reality shows, let alone trying to understand what happened during those moments in the fourth quarter where the Bandits ended up chasing numbers.
I am still trying to find my ticket to take it to Moe’s; didn’t want to let that one get away.
“We’ve got to get back to being a disciplined team,” said Bandits head coach Troy Cordingley. “The team comes first and we don’t need to get even right away. Discipline is a huge thing for us.”
“We have a very emotional team and they want to win so bad. We just got to go about it the right way.”
But despite the stunning loss, the night was a great success for Tucker Williams, the eight-year old son of Shawn Williams, who is battling Stage III Burkett’s Lymphoma.
Billed as “Tucker out Lymphoma Night,” the team staged several events and you, the fans of Banditland, responded in such an incredible heart-felt manner. It was just overwhelming. And the standing ovation from all 16,606 of you, in support for Tucker who was at the game, was emotionally moving.
Now the Bandits must start developing the Alpha approach with four games remaining, as they sit two-and-half games behind first-place Rochester.
Bandits forward Mark Steenhuis put it into perspective. “If you don’t do what you set out to do, you are not going to have success,” said Steenhuis who leads the team with 25 goals. “We need to play the game and not the hand of the other team. We need to do the little things get back to the essentials.”
And what exactly are those little things that the forward referred to?
“Moving the ball and allowing everybody to get set and let the ball to do the work,” said Steenhuis. “(It’s about) creating point-blank opportunities, instead of settling for those 25-foot shots with five seconds left in the shot clock.
“We really want to try and expose that middle of the floor, get open and try to have more easy looks than more difficult, which increases our chances of scoring. For us, it’s ‘ball hot, feet hot’ and we have to make sure we do it.”
It’s no secret; the Bandits control their own destiny.
“Our immediate goal was to make the playoffs and now we’ve done that,” said Cordingley. “We want to host a game. It’s in our hands. We go out there and play the way the Buffalo Bandits can play: stay true to our systems, our teammates and be disciplined. Hopefully we can get a home playoff game.”
Brian Shanahan, TSN/NLL color analyst and author of the Power Rankings on ILIndoor.com was my halftime guest on the Bandits radio broadcast last Saturday night.
I asked him how he goes about in deciding his Power Rankings, released every Monday on the popular lax website.
“A lot of it is gut feel, based on records obviously,” said Shanahan. “Sometimes, somebody might look at something and say that doesn’t make sense with this team that beat that team. It’s an overall gut feel who I think are the top teams in that order.
“A team might have a big win, and might not make a lot of difference in the rankings, because I am trying to take a snap shot at this point of the season. This is how I view the teams in the league,” he explains. “Buffalo was number two and three for a long time and they just slipped down (based on their losses) but it could change in a game. It pretty much is in my mind a gut feel along with the standings.”
My interview with Shanahan continued while the two of us roamed the hallway of the Ted Darling Memorial Press Box.
What do you see with the Bandits this year?
“I’ve been really impressed with them this year, said Shanahan. “I think of lot of it (success) starts in net. I think Anthony Cosmo has played the way I thought he would play when he first came to Buffalo and few years ago. He’s playing the way we’d expect him to and that’s been a big part of their (Bandits) success this year.
“I know a lot of Buffalo fans are panicking saying ‘Is this last year all over again?’ I doubt it. I think maybe they weren’t as good as they looked early in the season. As long as they stay disciplined, stay away from the stupid penalties, I do think they are a very good team. I don’t think they are in the same class as Edmonton, and I don’t think anybody is right now. But that doesn’t mean Edmonton can’t be beat at the end.
“I like Buffalo, they have great coaching. I’ve always thought Cordingley is one of the best coaches in the league and he’s shown it again this year, so I fully expect them to be a team to contend at the end.”
It’s no secret, the Bandits need to dominate from here on out.
Up next for the Bandits is another trip to Minnesota to face the Swarm on Saturday. Our radio coverage from St. Paul starts at 7:30 p.m. with the pre-game show. The game is set for 8 p.m. on ESPN 1520 and WGWE-FM 105.9.