Sports psychology is a million dollar industry. Perhaps billion.
Should coaches yell at players? Should coaches critique? Should coaches suggest alternative paths? Do student-athletes need Safe Spaces?
Does anyone really know?
My feeling (which must be respected, right? because it’s a feeling?) is that hard-ass old school coaching is not a problem, as long as it’s performed by a person who’s actually thinking about psychology, and has a soft spot hidden away somewhere.
Brad Underwood is certainly a hard-ass, who thinks, and shows a distinct soft spot.
What will he say to Ayo Dosunmu about carelessness? And Alan Griffin about ball security?
Andres Feliz led the team in turnovers on Sunday, but I didn’t personally see anything boneheaded from him. The spectacular Feliz TO was arguably a foul on Nico Mannion. The other side of the argument is that Mannion made a great play, stripping the ball just as Feliz lifted it from his hip, looking for a lay-up that would have kept Illinois in the game.
Feliz was kinda brooding about it in the postgame, and we hope nobody notices, on account of you’re not allowed to complain about the refs in college bball.
Ayo turned the ball over five times, and a lot of it seemed like he just wasn’t paying attention. Alan got
raped stripped again, which is becoming a pattern. Alan’s a cerebral guy, so one gets the feeling that he’s visualizing all the great things that can happen now that he has the ball and then he suddenly doesn’t have the ball anymore, because a less cerebral guy thought “ook, ball!” and ripped it away.
Feliz is a great combination of cerebral and ook! He thinks about the game a lot, and his understanding of spacing, angles, weak-side strategies, positioning etc. all suggest he’s very well-coached, extremely intellectual, or both. But he’s as driven by emotion as any Hallmark Holiday Special about Afro-Caribbean idioms could portray. There’s a reason you’re already finding him to be the most compelling character on the team. And he’s got a wife and kid. He played himself off the island, and now has the potential to make a career of it. It’s the American Dream most Americans forgot about generations ago because they never had to consider the alternative.
Ayo’s turnovers don’t concern Ayo, according to Ayo. Maybe you want that mentality, as a lot of coachspeak suggests. Move on. Next play. But an interesting thing happened in the Brad Underwood postgame media huddle in Tucson. When presented with the idea that Ayo is nonchalant about his TO’s, Brad Underwood did not assent or agree when offered his previous statement about Ayo, offered in the Nicholls State postgame. His I never have to worry about Ayo didn’t seem glib at the time, nor did his defense of Ayo at Grand Canyon, which told that an opponent’s focus on Ayo opened opportunities for others (like Feliz).
That rationale works to an extent, but it doesn’t get Ayo drafted. The whole point is to get Ayo drafted (in case you didn’t pick up on every very obvious media saturation).
But how does one explain to a pre-ordained savior that his prospects will improve if he x (where x is anything other than what comes naturally). Why would a pre-ordained savior consider x?
This player-coach relationship will define Brad Underwood. Despite his age, he’s still new to head coaching. (Ooh, a double-entendre!)
Mostly, he’s lost a lot of games at the D-1 level. If he can make Ayo care, without stripping Ayo’s confidence, he might keep this job awhile.