I have the unique opportunity this year to play on a team with 25 ballers on it. Top to bottom, bottom to top, we are all solid players. What makes us even better though, is the ability to trust each other and utilize each player to the fullest.
College is a little different because you have players at various stages of development playing on the same field together. You have the club calibre kid playing with the kid who learned a forehand 2 weeks ago and has shakey at best catches. I am going to try to make it my mission this year to utilize each and every player this year to maximize our ability as a TEAM.
This task also falls on the shoulders of the veterans on the team. By my 4th year at lehigh, I was a good player, but I didn't make others around me better. It wasn't until my 5th year that I began to do that. I enlisted the help of my friend and fellow 5th year player who would tell me when I was not playing within the flow of the team. He made me concentrate on putting others in situations where they could succeed. This might mean making sure you make a good soft throw to a younger player. Setting up a dump cut early, or not trying the hard break, but rather trusting others to be able to take 2 more passes to score. Most importantly for me, it was trusting my teammates to play good D and not try to play everyone's D for them.
It's the little things that develop trust. It can be as simple as looking a teammate in the eye in big games letting them know that you believe in them and the team. Most of it, however, is done not at tournaments, but in the car-rides to tourneys, track workouts, lifting sessions, and most importantly, practices.
Your goal for every practice should be to make your teammates better in every drill, every sprint, and every scrimmage. If you play your hardest, most physical D on a player, you are going to push them to get better. Likewise, on Offense, if you make it your goal to punish whoever is covering you by making hard real cuts, they are going to learn how to play better and better D. Challenge them to get better. Set the bar higher and higher for them each practice, and through these battles, you will get better by them pushing you to do the same.
Look your teammates in the eyes at the end of practice. Look at them with the pride of knowing that you pushed them and they, in turn, pushed back. By the end of the season, when you look them in the eye, you will also see the complete trust in knowing that no other team is going to push as hard as you pushed each other. That is a wonderful and unstoppable feeling.