Clarke, Bruiser at odds
By Mark Murphy, The Boston Herald, 2/4/1999

Bruiser Flint hit the luncheon circuit this week, spreading what word is left about UMass basketball this season.

He spoke to a group of Amherst-area businessmen on Tuesday, and a group of UMass academics yesterday.

And they all wanted to know why Charlton Clarke spent virtually all of the second half of Sunday's loss to Texas on the bench.

So Flint told them.

``I told them that I was disappointed that 20 games into the season, I had to do this with our self-proclaimed leader because I shouldn't have had to do that,'' Flint said yesterday. ``He's not a freshman. And it wasn't necessarily what he did on the floor, either.''

In Flint's eyes, it's a matter of how well Clarke has executed the coach's wishes on the floor, though the coach plans to start Clarke in tonight's game against Rhode Island - a matchup of two desperate teams tied for second place in the Atlantic 10's East Division.

They have been known to argue in practice and in game-night huddles. But when Clarke went to the bench Sunday and stayed there, he wasn't necessarily enlightened.

``There's no tension between me and him, or anyone else,'' Clarke said after last night's practice. ``But I have a job to do and he'll let me know about it when I don't do it.''

The part that bothers both men is that this moment has come about during Clarke's final season at UMass.

``(The friendship) is what disappoints me about the whole thing,'' said Flint. ``But leadership is something you have to prove. And when you say you're the leader of the team, you have to take that responsibility.''

Said Clarke: ``We are very close, but sometimes he feels that it's time to do things a different way than I want to.''

Clarke believes he has taken Flint's message the right way.

``I never really got a chance to talk to him about it this week,'' said Clarke. ``But I accept my punishment and it's time to move on. In a sense I don't understand what it was about, but he's the coach. I sat there on the bench and thought long and hard about it, and it just made me even more mad.

``Things like this are not supposed to happen to a senior, but he just wants me to go out there and run my team. He felt I was lacking those qualities last weekend.''

This is not the first time Flint has locked horns with a senior point guard. Edgar Padilla, the player most upset over the departure of John Calipari following the 1995-96 season, never saw eye-to-eye with Flint.

``I don't think that Charlton's been as bad as that was,'' said Flint. ``But to Edgar's credit, when he realized we needed him in a few big games, he came through for us. Hopefully this will be the same.''


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