Pull

Pull by Kevin Waltman Read Free Book Online

Book: Pull by Kevin Waltman Read Free Book Online
Authors: Kevin Waltman
it—and I feel that jump to my pulse. I feel like I should sprint back to the locker room and shed these street clothes for a uniform.
    There’s no telling what they’re saying with the band blasting, but now and then I see people nod or point in my direction. On the court, the team’s getting warm, the coaches are out near mid-court helping our bigs stretch their hammies. And over here I stand by the bench, clapping encouragement next to the equipment manager. No wonder I’m getting some stares. I guess word didn’t get out that I was sitting, but I’m sure by tip every last man, woman, and child in the Marion East gym will have it figured out that Derrick Bowen’s a screw-up who got his ass suspended for the opener.
    The stares come from the other end of the floor too. The Brownsburg coaches see me in street clothes and then they huddle-up to talk strategy. One after another, I see the Brownsburg players sneak a peek in my direction. With each one, there’s this little shift in their expression—just a slight lift of the eyebrows that says, Hey, we got a chance to come in here and steal one.
    The buzzer sounds. The crowd settles. The starting lineups trot out. Lord, I can barely watch. I’ve heard players talk about having to sit and play cheerleader while they’re injured. They all say that’s the worst part of the injury—not the pain, not the re-hab, but just sitting there without helping their teammates. That ball goes up. I’ve got Oxfords on my feet instead of my new D Rose 5s. It feels like going over to Jasmine’s house to watch her make out with another guy.
    The game waits for no one. As soon as Stanford controls the tip, they’re into it. Not a soul in uniform is thinking about me. They’ve got a game to play. Kicks chirp against the hardwood. The defensive chatter of Help here and back-screen coming mixes with the grunts of bigs fighting in the post and claps of open men wanting the rock. Rider does his best. He runs us through our offense. When things break down, he sprints out to get the ball near mid-court and re-set. But on the next time through the offense, he makes the same mistake he’d made in practice—he sees Stanford in the post, but waits an extra beat before making the pass. It gets swiped and Brownsburg pushes the other way.
    When Fuller tips a Brownsburg pass out of bounds, Murphy slides down next to me. “Chin up now, D-Bow,” he says. It sounds wrong to be called D-Bow now. It’s like that should be reserved for when I’m on-court. “You still can help us.” I nod, but it’s not enoughof an agreement to please Murphy so he stays after me. “Come on now. Every time-out, you need to be in Rider’s ear, telling him what to expect. You got to encourage your teammates out there when things get rough.”
    â€œGot it,” I say. He’s right, but somehow the thought makes me ill.
    On the other end, Reynolds gets beat baseline and Brownsburg’s up 2-0.
    It’s gonna be a long night.
    We hang. Stanford gets himself rolling in the third, burying a baseline J, a turnaround, a put-back and a little finger-roll in succession. Reynolds knocks in some treys, showing that he’s grown up quite a bit from his rocky freshman year.
    But we don’t have anything on the court that makes Brownsburg get jumpy. After a quick timeout, they start doubling Stanford—and it’s not even a hard double, just a guy dropping down a little further to make Stanford think twice. That’s the only adjustment they have to make. Aside from that, they stick to the shooters, stay in front of us on D, and box out. Pretty textbook.
    On the other end, they hum through their sets. It’s basically a flex offense, nothing we haven’t seen a million times. But it suits them. Their bigs can shoot, and their guards have some heft to them. So sooner or later, Stanford or Jones get hung on a

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