- Illinois State Redbirds - November 30, 2015 - Rupp Arena - 7:00 PM EST - ESPN2
As I was sitting here this morning getting ready for an early practice, I wanted to let everyone know how jacked I am to coach my team today. I have the normal aches and pains of a coach my age, but there should be no worries on my behalf. I’m fine.
I’m excited to coach my guys because I know we’ve got good kids who want to learn and who want to get better. I think everyone sees now that we don’t just recruit the best players and then roll out the balls. The start of this year shows you that just isn’t the case. Everyone can see this group needs to be coached and that it needs to come together. They’re great kids, but they have bad basketball habits they keep falling back to.
But that’s fine. This is what I live for, to coach these guys and make them better basketball players and better people. I’ve had teams go through this that I knew would be fine. During our 2010-11 season, it took us a while to learn how to win close games. Once we did, our team took off. The growth of a team takes time.
Once all of our guys wrap up their finals, we’ll start the beginning stages of Camp Cal where we will start to correct some of the issues. It’s pretty obvious we have to work on winning time in the last three minutes of a close game. We’ve been there and have failed three times in winnable games, so we’ll focus on that these next couple of weeks along with a few other things.
Having said that, don’t expect things to change overnight. This is going to be a yearlong process. Yes, I want to win every game I coach, but our ultimate goal is to be in that conversation at the end of the year. I know we have to be more organized, our mission has to be clearer to the players, and I have to be less emotional during the game because we’ve got a bunch of young kids. I can’t put winning before their growth.
This is about getting these players to think a different way, to think about serving each other. My job is to serve them. Their job is to serve each other. That’s what Players First is about. It isn’t player first. It isn’t team second. What they accomplish as a group supersedes everything. As our team succeeds, individuals benefit. Just look what that approach did for Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. That’s what I’m trying to get these guys to understand, but the fact of the matter is not everyone is on the same timetable.
I just have to stay patient and continue loving them as I challenge them and raise the bar — no easy task when you’re dealing with 18-year-olds. These are good kids. They want to learn. We are going to be fine. Just remember it’s a process. Enjoy the ride, Big Blue Nation, because we need you.
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