Coaching: Quagmire vs Solid Ground

The situations are arguably analogous.

Certainly illuminating.

In this fellow’s opinion, absolutely illustrative.

Indiana and Louisville both had big wins this week. The Hoosiers was bigger obviously, over its arch rival after nine straight losses in front of a rabid sold out crowd. The Cardinals, in front of a smattering of fans over a team it should have beaten but had to beat after three straight losses

IU was led by a career underachiever who had a career game and hit the game winning shot. Rob Phinisee.

U of L was led by a career underachiever who for the first time this season displayed a hint of his considerable promise. Jae’Lyn Withers.

Both players had talks with their coach before the game.

Here’s the rub.

Indiana coach Mike Woodson, a Hoosier lifer last seen smiling, arms raised in triumph, being escorted through the celebratory throng in Bloomington, was the instigator of conversation who called Phinisee in for an extended pep talk.

It was Woodson, doing what knowing coaches do, providing a player encouragement.

Phinisee: “I actually had a talk with Coach Woodson before shoot-around today, and he told me just if no one else is in your corner that he is in my corner. We had a really good talk before shoot-around, and that just really boosted my spirits. Finally. We finally beat Purdue.”

It was Withers, wondering what he needed to do for more PT, who went to Mack for an explanation.

As opposed to, you know, the other way around.

Even after the game, Mack, sullen and prickly as is his wont, was understated in his praise, such as it was.

“He wasn’t perfect tonight by any stretch of the imagination. He was much better and gave the coaching staff more confidence keeping him in there.”

Yes, I’m down on the coach of my team.

I believe, given the totality of circumstances facing the program and university, he ain’t goin’ nowhere. Even if the season totally crumbles.

At his combative pregame press conference, he admitted he had not contacted any mentors or fellow coaches to see if he might get fresh insight on how to deal with the Cards’ malaise.

I just wish he’d be willing to look at his own methods, and be willing to adjust.

That simply doesn’t seem to be Chris Mack’s modus operandi.

 * * * * *

For those who believe Mack could be terminated for cause, because of those minor NCAA sanctions he allegedly committed, take a look at what happened with UConn and Kevin Ollie.

The university fired its former national championship winning mentor for cause, refusing to pay him an $11 million buyout. The NCAA found the school, and Ollie individually, guilty of violations.

Ollie sued the school. It went to arbitration. Where the arbitrator, it is my understanding, was convinced the NCAA was wrong, that the sanctions against Ollie were not legit.

And, thus ordered UConn to cut Ollie a check for $11 mill.

Hear what I’m sayin’, Cardinal fans?

 * * * * *

It is my fondest hope that U of L turns it around, finds success and makes the tournament.

My hope against hope is that Chris Mack joins his two predecessors, and wins a national title for the Ville.

But, right here, right now, on a cold cold gray January morning, I’m sorta pissed, and just not feelin’ it.

— c d kaplan

9 thoughts on “Coaching: Quagmire vs Solid Ground

  1. I couldn’t agree more. I, like you, have been a Cardinals fan since the days at the Armory. I know we have had some down times but I don’t remember a team so seemingly disconnected from the coaching staff like this one. You know some of these guys have talent because of other D1 places they’ve played but we don’t seem to consistently get the best from any of them. While there have been a few high-level recruits that failed to get better throughout their careers at UL, nobody on the current roster seems to be improving from year-to-year. Sadly I agree with your conclusion also so am a little discouraged at the near future.

  2. Excellent perspective. The truth hurts, especially when it involves a team you have been following for nearly 70 years. And when you look at what the 1-3 year future holds it only compounds the hurt. While Ellis might be an exception, I cannot think of a Mack coached player atU of L that has improved more than 10%. All the more reason to closely follow the UofL women.

    1. I agree and I do follow the women too. Last night was a heartbreaker for sure but I think the law of averages caught up with them. NC State was (I believe) the best 3-point shooting team in the land and had been held to 1-13 if I remember right. But man, when they started they couldn’t be stopped. I think maybe the fatigue of the all-out effort of three quarters of a suffocation defense. I think the interviews with Coach Walz are a good indication of the personalities of the two coaches. Last night’s halftime interview was simply fun, with some good insight into what was happening in the game at that time.

  3. This past weekend, while watching 2 of my beloved DC teams, The Wiz and Hoyas, I was mightily impressed by the time out huddle demeanor and behavior of 2 assistant coaches, pressed into service by Omicron.

    Former Arizona starter and ex-Globetrotter Joseph Blair manned the helm for the Wizards. Ex-Orange and Knicks star, Louis Orr, was coaching in Patrick’s place.

    How refreshing to hear both men; calm, engaged with the players, encouraging and hear them teach and adjust. No anger. All encouragement and poise. Listening to the players’ suggestions.

    Tapping ex players and current NBA assistants is a good idea, IMHO. Oh, if the Cards could land a mature, calm, reasonable ex-NBA player, and throw the Inept Sour Bald Bum, Mack, out. I despise him and he brings NOTHING to the party.

  4. An aside when talking about coaches and personalities. The baseball team will be doing a meet and greet before tomorrow’s Notre Dame game. Another example of a positive-minded even-keeled coach.

  5. Well fans, the Notre Dame game is over.
    It was over after two minutes elapsed in the second half. This team came out flat with poor energy and a lack of understanding of what got them the first half lead. More importantly Mr. Mack had no clue on how to right the sinking ship.
    If you watched this game, you must have noticed that the only other person who received a ROARING applause comparable to Russ was , yeh, you guessed it, COACH Rick Pitino. Need any more need be said about what it will take to clean up this mess.

    1. The Iona Gaels are sitting at 16-3, with no losses in the MAAC. Looks like they’ll be taking another trip to the big dance in March.

  6. I can’t name 5 players on this team – they’re all jumbled together in a gumbo of mediocrity and a coach who is intractably disengaged from reality – We suck

  7. Louisville needs better players. Mack hasn’t forgotten how to coach. If he goes who do you get? There is some talent here but not Louisville type players. Malik Williams can’t or won’t jump. His foot still not good. West cates and plays hard. Faulkner plays hard. But these players are grad transfer from teams that aren’t ACC quality. Cross has some talent but has to be set to shoot can’t create. Ellis too wild. Davis needs more development. Curry looks like he might develop into a good player. Too many what if’s with this team. Not enough talent. This team will be lucky to win. 3-4 more games. It’s just a poor group. If you blame Mack I it’s his recruiting. A lot fans don’t like his coaching style. Well, winning trumps everything. I’m not sure Mack is going to get it done. But that seat will be really hot because you just don’t miss the tournament 2 years in a row.

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