These are observations and opinions of many USF fans and are intended as a wake-up call to all concerned.
As in all things, we must start at the top, and that is the coaching staff. As a former player, coach, fan and basketball observer for over 40 years in the Chicago area, it has always been stressed that fundamentals win ball games.
Coaches who stress fundamentals over and over again win ball games. Evidently, this is not the philosophy of the USF coaching staff. If it was, free throws, defense, catching a pass and moving without the ball would have been a priority. The training and the effort were not there. Did you realize that if 75 percent of your free throws were made, you could have won ball games?
Another item was respect. The players showed no respect to the coaching staff, many times reverting to playing “streetball” instead of playing the caliber of ball that NCAA Division I calls for. Evidence for this is the second half “tank-job” the team did almost every game. For some reason, the team would completely go out of the game plan and revert to playground type shots all going for naught. It is as much fault of the coaching staff as it is the players. The old saying is, “If you let a child run wild, odds are he probably is.” The staff should have recognized this and put a stop to it early on. A coach has to be a leader, not a shouter. A teacher, not a dictator. Recognize this and correct this. If it happens 1-2 games at most, put a stop to it, focus and coach. If the players won’t do this, bench them and play those who are there to play. And if that doesn’t work, check out the intramural court. I am sure you will find serious student athletes wanting a chance at the big time.
Another thing, Coach, we do appreciate your wanting to stir up support for the team. We appreciate the many pizzas and bagels provided for the hearty souls at tent city. To me, this gesture was over and above the call for a head coach to do. As a student and fan, thank you, Coach, for this gesture. But Coach, never, I repeat, never publicly lambaste the students for not showing up for games, especially on Tuesday nights. Tuesday night on campus is the most populated class night during the week. Those of us who are usually there to see games could not because we were at our “A” game, which stands for academics. We know it is a “shame” we were not able to be there. Just remember, Coach, we are here for the team and in support of you, and if we can be there, we will.
Now to the players: Gentlemen, can anyone give me an explanation why there was not a consistent 110 percent effort on the floor this year by all of you? Yes, some of you put together more effort and showed more guts than others. But can you honestly say you put 110 percent effort in every game? I think not. Those of you who played hurt, I commend. Those of you who were healthy and dogged it, I say shame on you. We do not need any “Randy Moss” attitudes, (playing only when you feel like it) here at USF. If that’s the case, do us all a favor and transfer to UCF or some other school. Give your scholarship to someone who wants it and won’t abuse the privilege. This also goes for those who chose not to attend classes or failed to rank academics and sports in the same category. You were suspended. You hurt your team. Maybe you need to look elsewhere to play your basketball, too.
Finally, I will leave you with something that I hope you take to heart, something that was lacking this year. A former coach of mine wrote three words on a chalkboard that was in our meeting room before the biggest game of our young careers. He didn’t come in and talk to us as usual, but let us sit and think about these words for almost an hour. These three words have been with me all my life, and I’ve remembered them when things seemed at their worst. When I wanted to give up, I remembered the words. When I prospered, I remembered the words. When I thought I just wanted to go through the motions, I thought of the words. The words he wrote on that board that day were, “Ya gotta wanna.” Simple, but oh so true. So in this off-season, remember those words. Let them sink in and ask yourselves, do I wanna?
- Mitch Rebenstorf is a junior majoring in education.