Coach Brown continued to work with Alex, this, combined with the challenge of lining up against the Rattlers starting point guard Sam at training drills was bringing Alex’s game along with rapid improvement. Where Sam was once too strong and experienced with superior skills he was finding the match up far more even and both players were benefiting from the experience. Coach Brown changed Alex’s defensive stance by transferring more weight onto his toes creating a minimal change in balance but one that was sufficient to make change of direction more dynamic and add even more speed to his lightning reflexes. Subtle changes like that, greater familiarity with team plays and Alex’s own training program of ball control exercises, fitness drills and practice shooting 200 baskets a day were evolving his game and lifting his skill level and quality of execution - a fact not lost on Coach Anderson. Playing with Jack as a team mate had not improved.
It was in game 5 of the season that Alex finally got some court time. The Rattlers were in an even defensive game that was tending to become a dour struggle so Coach Anderson decided to throw him in as a wild card to see if a change up would breathe some fresh air into the game. He called Alex from the end of the bench and gave him instructions before calling the switch subbing him on to play the 3 spot.
Does History repeat? If so then it did at that moment. Alex became the game breaker - two spectacular blocks, 3 assists, 6 points, 3 rebounds, one steal and one intercept in the space of 4 minutes. Back on the bench after his brief but explosive time in the game Alex’s heart still pumped hard as the adrenalin continued to rush through his body. He had turned the game becoming the catalyst for the team’s 5th win of the season and established himself as a player of the future. Sam the starting point guard was clearly delighted and made sure Alex knew it.
The Rattler’s 6th game was against a lower ranked team for which game Sam sat out resting a slight muscle strain. Jack took the point, however, when Alex subbed into the game the magic of the previous outing was missing. It was not for want of trying and defensively his game was excellent. His offensive game was lacking it’s punch. Coach Anderson rotated players, searching for the spark, relegating Jack to bench and changing Alex to 2 and suddenly the game jolted to become lively. It seemed the Jack/Alex combination was not ideal.
Game 7 was against State University at State! Paul! Alex was so excited. He left emails and MSN messages giving all the details he could muster. Seeing Paul and spending some time together was all he could think about during his spare time. He longed to be alone with Paul, to be held in his arms, to take in his delicious scent, to feel the warmth of his golden skin and bask in the glow of his radiant smile.
On the bus en route to State University Alex leaned back in his seat, closed his eyes and gloriously allowed his mind to flood with images of Paul. Delicious thoughts broken as the bus pulled into the State University Complex and pushed to the back of his mind so that he could concentrate on game preparation. There would be time for those thoughts later since Paul would be there and they would spend some time together.