Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Bob

I did an interview with Coach McKillop recently and the thing that really stood out to me is the way in which he has really been tweeking things this season.

If you've read the Observer articles about funky practices, then you might have some idea about what I am talking about. Coach McKillop has realized the invaluable asset of coaching teams individually instead of just coaching to a recruited system. While he certainly finds players who have good shots, toughness inside and intelligence, he has also realized that every player cannot be coached the same way.

This group of seniors could very well be deemed the most prolific class in recent memory with outstanding records to their honor. However, they also might be the most sensitive and thinking class in a while.

Every day, Brendan Winters must face himself and realize that he is not his father and does not have an obligation to match his father's accomplishments. He cannot allow himself to take full blame for every Wildcat loss, and so coach has played him less to make him feel less like the franchise player. Brendan performs better as one of the cogs in the wheel, not the mule pulling the truck (like J.J. Redick).

At the end of warmups, Matt McKillop always secures a ball to shoot a spot-up three-pointer right before he joins his team on the bench. While there is no statistical correlation between his hitting a shot and a strong performance, the fact that he always has take a meaningful chance is a sports psychologist's wonderland.

In key situations in losses this year, Kenny Grant has always unilaterally driven the lane in the hopes of a defensive foul after saving the Princeton game in 2005. However, his lack of vision for a pass created charges against Charlotte, Western and Wofford and turned the momentum over to the opponent.

Coach McKillop has done several things to try to "take the pressure off" and help the players where they are. From the tip to 17 minute mark of the Wofford road game, he sat at the end of the bench and didn't say a word. He has used props in practice to lighten the tone and keep the players loose. He has been more visible on campus, joking with the guys and their friends in the Union.

On this last week of the regular season, everyone realizes that Coach McKillop is not a monolithic source of strategy and yelling. He has been touched by the integrity and intensity of the Davidson fan base. He relishes the remaining weeks of coaching his son and other special Seniors. And he knows that every player has a real life. Basketball is life, and yet it isn't. So whether or not we hit the last shot to win the tournament, life will go on for very special people; and coach McKillop has let them know that. Now hopefully they can finally hit that shot.

1 comment:

Jim Richards said...

Will, You are doing a great job with your blog! Thank you so much from all the folks who love Davidson Basketball. I think this has been one of the finest additions to our program in a while. Most Sincerely, Jim Richards '80