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OldGoldFreePress COLUMNISTS | BACK TO Guest_Columnist'S COLUMNS

PURDUE MENS BASKETBALL:
In The Huddle


MrHoops.com Forum Hall of Fame


Date: 12/18/2004
Author: BoilerBrian
© Old Gold Free Press Columnists

    Brian Cardinal grabs a loose ball and calls timeout while doing a double
    somersault with a half twist over the scorerís table. The referee holds up
    a Ď9.8í, then charges Purdue with their final timeout. The Market Square
    Arena Scoreboard reads ĎButler 17 - Purdue 16í with 0:05 seconds remaining
    in the second half. The managers bring out the green stools as Coach Keady
    gathers his troops to sketch the final play.

    "OK," begins Coach Thrash, taking out his clipboard, "Weíre gonna run the #2
    Special with -"

    "Wait a moment Jim," interrupts Gene Keady. "Before we set the play, I
    think we have some issues to deal with. Iíve been sitting here thinking
    since that last technical foul for throwing my coat into the upper deck.
    First thing tomorrow morning, Iím enrolling in anger management seminar.
    And I still want to win this game. I really do. But more than anything, I
    want to make these final five seconds a valuable personal growth experience
    for each and every player on this team. Brian, what was on your mind as you
    made that last steal."

    "I wanna kill," says Brian Cardinal with frightening intensity.

    "Iím sure you mean that metaphorically speaking," says the kinder gentler
    Coach Keady.

    "I wanna kill," repeats the red-haired forward.

    "OK, weíll just go with that feeling," says Gene in his most non-judgmental
    tone. "Perhaps youíd like to take the final shot Brian?"

    "I donít wanna shoot," says Cardinal. "I wanna kill."

    "But youíve only shot the ball once all night Brian," gently admonishes
    Coach Keady.

    Brian Cardinal curls up in a ball on the hardwood floor and mumbles "Donít
    want a shot Ö Donít want a shot Ö Donít want a shot."

    "Itís his father, the trainer," whispers Frank Kendrick in his bosses ear.
    "He used to give the family flu shots each year with those big long needles.
    It still gives Brian nightmareís every time anyone talks about Ďshotsí or
    Ďshootingí."

    "Can I say something coach?" says a tall skinny kid at the back of the huddle.

    "No, sit down John," replies Coach Keady. "Whereís Mike? Maybe Mike wants
    the last shot."

    "Heís in the dressing room," answers Jay Price. "He was a bit late for the
    game tonight. But he should be dressed real soon."

    "Thatís OK," says Gene Keady with an expression of saintly tolerance on his
    face. "Iím sure Mike had a good reason. Weíll just appreciate him all the
    more when he does get here. Now then, how about Jaraan? Is Jaraan ready
    to take the last shot?"

    "Do you really think thatís wise?" asks Coach Thrash. "Jaraanís 1 for 117
    tonight."

    "Well Iím sure Jaraan will do better this time," says Coach Keady. "Wonít
    you Jaraan? After all, in practice yesterday you were hitting from the row
    behind the scorerís table - the one Brian always lands in. Why donít you
    shoot like that in our games Jaraan?"

    "Well coach," says Jaraan Cornell shyly. "It just seems so pretentious to
    shoot like that all time. I mean, I wouldnít want to show up the other
    players in front of all these thousands of people."

    "Weíll work on that in your assertiveness training session tomorrow Jaraan,"
    says Gene Keady, patting the hand of his shooting guard understandingly.

    "Coach," says the tall skinny player at the back of the huddle. "Can I say
    something?"

    "No John," answers Coach Keady. "Sit down."

    The coachís eyes scan his team, and it suddenly occurs to him that there is
    a great deal of emotional work to be done here. How could he have been so
    blind? And what better time to start group therapy than this very timeout.

    "Maynard," says Coach Keady. "How would you feel about taking the last shot?"

    "You really mean it coach?" says an enthusiastic Maynard Lewis as he peels
    off his sweat suit.

    "Of course not," answers Coach Keady. "Youíre a freshman. But I was just
    wondering about your feelings."

    "Well coach," says Maynard Lewis, feeling disappointed but empowered. "To
    be honest, Iíve been feeling a little lonely there at the end of the bench.
    Last week you said youíd like to narrow the rotation to nine or ten players,
    and Iím afraid that my playing time is going to get squeezed out."

    "Donít worry Maynard," says Coach Keady gently. "Youíll have just as good a
    chance as anyone to be among the eight players in our playing rotation."

    "Gee coach," says Maynard, smiling a bit. "Do you really think so?"

    "Of course," answers Keady. "Thereís no reason in the world that you wonít
    be among the seven players that we play on a regular basis."

    "Thanks," said Maynard, feeling reassured.

    "And that goes for the rest of you," says Keady. "None of you should feel
    threatened because you all will have a chance to be among the six players in
    our final substitution pattern."

    "Even me coach?" asks the tall skinny kid in the back of the huddle.

    "Of course not John," answers Coach Keady.

    "But coach I really need to say something," says John Allison.

    "John please sit down next to Maynard," says Keady. "Weíre doing some
    important work on ourselves here. Now Carson, that hair of yours is a
    pretty obvious cry for help. Do you think you could share with us why
    youíve decided to give the ball away to our opponents so much this year."

    "Well coach," says Carson Cunningham thoughtfully. "Iíve been reading a lot
    on philosophy lately and somewhere I read that itís better to give than to
    receive. I think it was Sarte Ö or maybe it was Janet Jackson."

    "Well Iím sure that Jean or Janet wasnít talking about basketball when they
    said that," replies a confused but philosophical Coach Keady.

    "But you see, all Iím giving away is a physical basketball," says Carson.
    "In return Iím receiving a ton of Karmic energy. In the next life, Iím
    gonna be like Michael Jordan or something."

    "Can we redshirt him until his next life?" Coach Keady quietly asks Frank
    Kendrick.

    "Yes," replies Kendrick, "But then heís technically a recruit and I canít
    give him a ride back to the motel after the game."

    Suddenly, one of the teamís two dozen power forwards stands up.

    "Iím Jamaal Davis," he says courageously. "And I canít hit free throws.
    Itís been one shot since my last brick."

    "Hi Jamaal," says the team in unison.

    "Iím Gary McQuay," says another power forward. "And I canít hit free
    throws. Itís been two shots since my last brick."

    "Hi Gary," says the team in unison.

    "Iím Greg McQuay," says yet another power forward. "And I canít hit free
    throws. Itís been one shot since my last brick."

    "Hi Greg," says the team in unison.

    "OK, OK," interrupts Coach Keady. "Weíll start a Foul-Shooters Anonymous
    chapter tomorrow, but if we let everyone who canít shoot free throws talk,
    weíll be here all night. We still have some point guard issues to sort out.
    Alan could you please share with us why you insist on passing the ball to
    your teammates feet?"

    "It goes back to AAU ball," sniffles Alan Elridge. "Everyone else on the
    team got brand new Nikes. But when they got to me, they ran out. So they
    made me wear Converse."

    "Good gosh!" exclaimed several players in horror.

    "Oh the humanity!" sighed Coach Thrash, shaking his head.

    "Ever since then," explained Elridge as a tear ran down his cheek. "Every
    time I see that swoosh, I get so angry I just throw the ball at it."

    "Itís not healthy to repress your anger," agrees Coach Keady. "You just
    keep on letting it all out Alan. How about you Tony? Would you like to
    take the last shot?"

    "Put me in coach," says Tony Mayfield eagerly. "Iíll foul Ďem good. Whack!
    Right across the wrists. Whack!"

    "We have the ball Tony," reminds Coach Keady. "We donít have to foul."

    "Youíll see," repeat Tony Mayfield eagerly. "Whack! Right across the wrists!"

    "Snap out of it Tony," asks Coach Keady, suddenly sensing the approach of a
    breakthrough moment. "Tony why do you always do that?"

    "I canít help it Coach," answers Tony Mayfield, feeling the love and support
    from his teammates. "When I was just a kid, I used to reach across the
    dinner table. And every time, my momma went WHACK! Right across the wrists."

    "And how about you Chad?" says Coach Keady. "Youíve been awful quiet
    lately. Whatís on your mind."

    "Well coach," says Chad Kerkhof. "I donít mind being a walk-on, and a
    defensive specialist, and playing only limited minutes, but itís those folks
    on the Internet. They canít ever spell my name right. Itís always ĎKerkoví
    or ĎKerkoffí. One time it was even ĎChekoví. Iím a human being, not a Star
    Trek extra."

    "Go on Chad," comforts Coach Keady. "Assert your personhood."

    "Coach," says the tall skinny guy at the back of the huddle. "Can I say
    something?"

    "No John, sit down," says Coach Keady. "Now is there anyone else that has
    something heíd like to share."

    "Yeah coach," says Cameron Stephens, rising to his feet. "They called me
    name likes ĎChubbyí, ĎThe Busí, ĎBig Daddyí, and ĎFat Mací."

    "Kids on the playground can be so cruel," says Coach Keady understandingly.
    "It must have been so hard for you, growing up with a weight problem."

    "It wasnít when I was growing up Coach," explains Cameron Stephens. "It was
    in the locker room before the game."

    "Well I think itís just about time for a group hug," says Coach Keady.

    "But Coach," says the tall skinny kid at the back of the huddle.

    "What is it John?" says Coach Keady, finally noticing the freshman center.

    "The gameís over Coach," said John Allison. "Everybody went home and the
    janitors want to lock up now."

    "Thereíll be other games," the coach assures his team. "Whatís important is
    that we all grew as people tonight. I think weíre finally getting somewhere
    this chemistry thing."

    "But coach," explains John Allison. "We won. Rodney passed the ball to
    himself, then took it the whole way. Finished with a 360 windmill dunk. It
    was awesome!"

    "Great," says Coach Keady. "Thatís exactly the kind of teamwork weíve been
    looking for. Now how about that hug."


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