Coach wants to see more passion from his players
By Robin Deutsch with Bruiser Flint, MassLive, 12/2/1999

I have always sympathized with football coaches who only get to coach one game a week. No matter how close a loss might be, or how valiant the team might have played in that loss, it is a long week before the next chance at a win.

Luckily, we don't have to wait long for our next game following our disappointing 65-55 loss to Marshall in our home opener. Thursday we play host to Boston University. Then we travel to Boston to face Boston College at the Conte Forum in Saturday's Commonwealth Classic. On Monday we return home to play another Big East school, Villanova. It's early in the season, but the next three games are an important stretch for our team.

What bothered me most about the Marshall game is that we didn't play with emotion. I have often said that I don't want to coach emotion. I want to coach players who can motivate themselves and come ready to play. After we jumped out to a quick lead against Marhsall they came back which we expected they would and we became tentative, especially offensively. I thought as a team, we defended well. Marshall scored only 65 points. Problem was, we couldn't score.

When we are at home, we have to make a statement: We won't get beat on our floor, on our turf. That leads us to Thursday's game against Boston University. BU will scrap and scrape and fight against us. I have warned my guys that if we don't come to play, we'll lose. It's that simple.

Boston University can't match our size, so they'll try and defeat us from the perimeter. We'll have to rebound better than we did against Marshall and ultimately play with more confidence. We'll have to be more intense in every aspect of the game.

Dennis Woolf, the BU coach, does a great job with the Terriers. He has a guard-oriented team with Mike Costello and sophomore Dereck Franklin, who was a member of the America East All-Rookie Team last year. Senior forward Jean Avebe is a dangerous player in the frontcourt.

I am looking for our guys to play with passion, but to have fun. I have been pleased with Kitwana Rhymer's first three games of the season and have been pleasantly surprised by his offensive game. On the other hand, Chris Kirkland has to take more than eight shots a game. We need his offensive skills and athleticism around the basket. Shannon Crooks is still getting acclimated to playing competitive basketball again, so there will be nights in the early part of the season, where everything may not click for him. It is only a matter of time until Shannon finds his game rhythm.

As far as our newcomers Micah Brand and JoVann Johnson, it is also only a matter of time until they become impact players. They need to get confidence playing in games where there is an upside. Hopefully the BU game will give them an opportunity to play meaningful minutes and that will extend against BC and Villanova. We have a deep bench, so don't be surprised to see players like Winston Smith and Anthony Oates get increased playing time. There's not a player on our roster that I don't have complete confidence in.

Our next two home games against BU Thursday and Villanova Monday are important, so I am hoping to have a lively and supportive crowd giving us our homecourt advantage.


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