Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Some Hoops

Saw a great McDowell-Prep game tonight. McDowell was huge underdogs, which may have accounted for the less-then-stellar turnout. Two years ago, you couldn't find a seat in the Aud. when Prep and McDowell played. Now it was three-quarters full. McDowell came out all fired up and really passed the ball beautifully and hit open shots and built a 10-12 point lead.

The only other game I have seen Prep play under the current "Bump" Flanagan staff was his first game, and like this game Prep got off to a miserable shooting start. The team held together and never panicked and came back and lost that game, but won tonight. Their defense really jacked things up toward the end of the third quarter and McDowell stopped getting the open shots and folded. Prep outmuscled them over the long haul. It was an interesting contrast in styles, as McDowell moved the ball brilliantly for most of the game with quick passes hitting the open man, while Prep relied mainly on slashing and driving and individual skills. In the end Prep had the horses, while the Trojans proved to be but foot solidiers that couldn't hold off the cavalry. (Aw, some good old fashioned sportswriting, what do you say? Where's Chaneable Sue when I need her?)

Also, do you believe what Gannon basketball coach John Reilly was quoted as saying the other day in John Dudley's column? This was after the team had pulled out a close win over arch-rival Mercyhurst in its final game of the season: "This season is over. We didn't bring in these guys. We brought in forward Aurimus Truskauskas, and he epitomizes what this team is going to be like in the future." Hold on a second there chief. First off, what baskebtall coach uses the word "epitomizes?" Second of all, why would you castigate (how's that for a word?) your team like that after they just came up with a huge win - one that you can at least lean on a little for the next six months.

Now I know Rielly has to be upset after finishing 12-15, and Gannon fans, and Rielly himself are used to better. Reilly, after all, was an assistant under the legendary Tom Chapman. But, he also been coaching in the all-Kentucky league or something for the last 10 years. Not that they don't play good ball in Kentucky... but at least, let's give your D-II players some respect. I attended several of the games, and it sure didn't look like they weren't trying... alright, maybe they weren't trying up to Reilly's expectations and when he gets his own players in there, they'll win 25 games and go to the D-II finals and all that... but maybe not. Not every coach is successful on the next level. Look at Chapman at Bonnies. I guess all I'm saying is can't we at least be a little kinder here? It's just a game. (And you just won one.)

Last thought on this, (quickly, because the whole story has already been played out in the paper including an interview with a couple senior, one being Damondi Johnson who came back from an enlarged heart to play for Reilly this year), but Truskauskas really was not all that great of a player. Yeah, he seems like a stand-up guy (after I game where I saw him leave several of these little jump hook things short, he had the insight to admit "I didn't go up strong enough") and got some good rebounds, but he didn't seem like much of an inside defender and he missed a lot of short shots and hit only like 50% of his free throws. Maybe he'll be better, as he, like Reilly, was stepping up a level in play this year, but really, based on his performance this year, I don't think you were winning much with five Truskauskases in the line-up.

I think I'm ready for bed.

Night. Night.



DocTorDee said...

You're right about the matter of John Reilly. Did he really say that? Wow, you never want to disrespect your players like that, especially after a win over Mercyhurst. These are student athletes and they typically work hard and do what they're supposed to do.

I think it's a combination of expectations and perfectionism that creates situations like this. Expectations are high for every coach and, guess what, not everybody can win, so the expectations for every coach to be a winner clearly arent realistic.

Then what happens? The commparative lack of success gets taken out on the students via negative commentary in the press. Sadly, the message from coach to players is: "You didn't give me what I want" and that's a more successful season.

We all want the coaches of our favorite teams to have the drive to win it all, but there's much more to the coach/student interaction than a winning streak. A college basektball season should never end with students getting knocked by their coach, unless the team was a bunch of hooligans and the coach had some specific justification.

This is my eternal commentary on the US: We are often so consumed by winning that we lose the enrichment of the human interaction.

Words are like bullets. Once they're fired, they're gone. So, now that John Reilly worked all year with these student athletes, practice after practice, game after game, he puts a bullet into all of it with negative comments about the team. The season is what mattered, not the desire for a better record.

I'd love to hear Coach Reilly's side to this....

[Kudos to Ralph on his sportswriting. I am not much of a reader of the sports page, but Ralph always makes it seem more like Greek Drama. Nice job, Ralph. DrD]

Ralph said...

Back in the day, I was the renowned sports editor of the Greenville Record-Argus... the other thing is, some of these players were scheduled to come back next year. As many have scholarships, they probably will, unless we get some Robby Benson, One-on-One action going on. How do you deal with that?

Let me caveat all this by saying that I met Reilly a few times way back when I was in college (for like six years) - he was a GU assistant, and I think actually shared a house with a friend of mine. He seemed like genuinely a nice person at the time and I've heard nothing to indicate he's a bad guy... but this pressure cooker thing, that all basketball coaches seem to be under, can drive good people to do not-so-great things. I hope that's the case here and John can dig himself out of this (small hole) and have a long and successful career at Gannon.

Right. Thanks for the input. DocTor D.