I was amazed that my CV (resume) was accepted by Florida College. Afterall, I was an Englishman whose experience of basketball went as far as playing High School back in England (nowhere near as big a deal as in the US) and playing NBA Live on the Playstation.
Still, with a lowly rank of 91, it seems the Dean was slightly desperate at the time and nearly bit my hand off to accept me as coach.
He did ask one question though.
Cos it's hot, and there's oranges, and Disneyland is nearby...Duh.
The initial draft plays out reasonably for us. That should help as we were just stuc with some deadwood in the Junior year. Still, they'll be gone before too long. 16 wins ain't enough to get us into the tournament though but hey, what can Florida expect??
We get no draft action so I'm stuck with the kid with the wooden leg and the lad with the goofy eye and sticking out jaw. You can't polish a turd but I give it a go anyway. Thankfully we've got a hot young centre who joined us last year who's stepped up a level in this year and it's mostly down to him that we post an improved 20 wins. The Dean commends me on the team's improvement but warns me that the school needs to make the tournament next year.
It seems like we turn the corner as the two useless lumps graduate to go off and swep roads or whatever they're going to do. The draft isn't good for us though and we're stuck taking on a third centre (bearing in mind that we've got one (now Junior) who's clearly the best player in the team and starting to make a name for himself in the league). Still, we do what we can and this year we make the tournament with 24 wins in the season!
The tournament itself goes well and 22 victories isn't at all shabby. The Dean is pleased and pats me on the back in the privacy of his own office.
Three quality squad players graduate this year and I must admit I'm worried. Our centre and three of our other starting players are Seniors and the three players we got in the draft are useless. The best of a terrible bunch. True. on the court we look better than ever but if you glance at the bench you want to cry, or laugh, depending on whether you're for us or our opponents. 31 season victories is our best yet but I'm nervous as we head into the tournament knowing that this could be our last chance for years.
We go all the way, as the Centre plays for his professional future. But 29 victories leaves us just TWO short of the championship. The Dean is pretty pleased but I go home and can't sleep for a week. I just lie, staring at the ceiling with visions of those useless Freshmen haunting me.
More rubbish in the draft. Two years running with no quality. As our team is annouced to the college at the start of term one of them trips over his shoelaces and lands headfirst into a tuba. I cover my face in shame. 10, that's right TEN wins this year is the worst of my career. True, a bad workman blames his tools but I'm hammering in nails with a jelly with these kids. The Dean kind of understands (afterall one of them threw a ball, smashing his window, while they were aiming at a basket 50 metres away) but he doesn't want another embarrassing season.
No drafts. I'm surrounded by useless Juniors, Sophomores and a Senior who I can't wait to kick out of the door. My only shining light is this one Forward who's better than the rest of the team put together. He's given up working with the other players and just does it all himself. It works as he pretty much singlehandedly wins us 16 games this year. Still not enough but it's an improvement. Things look rosey for the future as one of the Junior Guards is starting to step up his own quality. Hey, things might still work out.
I get a call in the summer from the Dean. Turns out the Phoenix Suns have signed the Forward. I want to cry. So does the Dean. I'm out next season unless I make the tournament apparantly.
With space on the teamsheet (finally) we have a peek at drafts. Nothing much there so the Dean desperately phones round the colleges asking about possible Junior transfer students. Offering all kinds of crazy scholarships and promises for them to come to Florida. Even offering them a week's free pass to Disneyland. It works. We get two guys, big, strong, full of quality. It feels like cheating but we've finally got some quality to go with the Guard who's now in his final year. Regular season goes well with 25 wins - our second best - but something miraculous happens in the tournament where we take 33 victories to WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP! The Guard gets our MVP as the Dean hugs me, crying tears of happiness into my shoulder. Still, it seems the end of a three year adventure as the Guard graduates and one of our Junior transfers gets picked up by the San Antonio Spurs.
All good things come to an end. With two of our three pronged attack gone we're left with the one decent Senior (transferred from last year) and a team full of average Seniors. A true "treading water" season. Still, in the draft we picked up a decent looking Centre and Guard who should develop nicely. 13 wins in our transition season and the Dean laughingly tells me that it was "just as well" that we did so well last season. It's a downer of a final year for our decent player but at least he had a championship.
An exciting year with so many new faces! Five from the draft to be exact. I managed to nab a quality young Guard, another couple of young hopefuls and two more Junior transfers. 24 wins gets us into the tournament for the fourth time in nine years before a quality 26 wins gives us a good showing in the tournament itself. The Sophomore Centre/Guard pairing looked great while the young Guard is showing promise. One of the transfer students had the Miami Heat sniffing around him but eventually they gave up which is great for us!
None graduating meaning that my great team from last year are older, wiser, stronger and more of a team than ever. This shows in an amazing 32 win season sending us crashing into the tournament. Then a huge 35 wins leaves us dominating the competition and picking up our second Championship! Amazing from the Junior Centre and Guard who were frighteningly great. Three graduating this year but our big three (those two with the improving Sophomore Guard) all around for next year!
Three new players in, a couple decent, one to warm the bench. The starting five and first benchman especially, have trained hard and look the best I've ever seen them leading into the season. They have the belief and they have the experience and a huge 33 regular season wins (our best) has confidence high of a repeat. Our two big Seniors are dominant as usual but the big story is the now-Junior Guard who is shaping up to be the best player we've had through this College in my time. A massive 37 tournament wins gives us our third Championship and second in a row to a hugely deserving squad. It's with tears in my eyes (again) that I bid farewell to our longserving Seniors as a huge rebuilding job is needed for my twelfth year - a season I've already decided will be my last.
We get in some decent players in the draft. Still, it doesn't feel quite so "special" in training or out on the court. The Guard, now a Senior.....Well it's all about him. An awesome player now, controlling the play, calling the shots. 26 wins gets us to our fourth tournament in a row and the media are huge on the chances of Florida College making it three in a row. The kids say they're out to win it for me, that they'll do their all. Still, there's no fairytale finish as they fall just short with 24 wins.
I'm carried out of the stadium on the shoulders of the players as the hundreds and hundreds of college attendees at the final game give me a standing ovation.
Twelve years with Florida College.
Seven Tournament appearances.
33 wins / 37 wins best season.
10 wins worst season.
31 Graduating Seniors.
2 Stolen by the NBA.
So yeah, I really enjoyed the game. I may not have been playing it totally right and as it was my first play I missed out some of the optional rules (to make it harder etc) but I'll give them a go next time. Building a dynasty was great and seeing it rise and fall and rise again. It certainly ebbed and flowed with three highlights - the first being the great Centre player early on who got us our first two Tournament appearances where we just missed out. The second was our first Championship which felt a bit cheap as I pulled in the Juniors. I needed it that year though or I would have been fired! (seventh season and two without reaching tournament up until that point!) The third was the 9th-12th season with the build, the win, the retain and then the ease down where we still nearly got the third win. The final Guard was incredible Man it was great to see him progress. The Centre and the Guard just before him were amazing too and the 11th season was a fantastic team.
I'll definitely be playing it again and there wasn't much printing to do and the cutting out wasn't too bad at all. Great game.
Fun report. I should point out that it is Disney World in Florida, Disneyland is in California.