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Temporary Like Achilles [DDSCB3] [Retired]

Started By Wayne23, Apr 04, 2014 08:03 PM

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#1

Wayne23
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Author's Note: DDS:CB3 is still a new release and changes are being made. I have started several threads but have them on hold since updates may result in losing them. If that happens I can pick up from where I am but not if I continue.

At the same time I enjoy doing dynasties so i thought I'd tart one and run it until game changes kill it. Thus the title (A Bob Dylan song for those who do not know his music). Here goes:

May 1, 1971

My name is Achilles Karabinakis. I am the son of immigrants but I was born here in the United States in 1927- three days after my parents arrived. They settled in the little northeastern CT town of Willimantic and immediately went to work in the factories. I was left in the care of my grandmother who accompanied them here. I grew up speaking Greek and only learned English when I began school. I still speak both languages. As you will find with all Greeks I am very proud of my heritage. I am also very proud to be American.

My parents were short and stocky but something about the American diet or climate or whatever made me quite different. I grew to be 6’ 6”, 265 pounds. I have always been very strong.

When I entered Windham High School in 1941 the football coach saw me and wanted me on the team badly. I was not interested in American football. The school did not have a soccer team (what we in Europe have always called “football”- the REAL football) but I knew a little something about basketball and thought I would give it a try. The coach of that team was overjoyed to have me, again, due to my size, certainly not because of any ability, since I had none at that point. Coach Piotrowski was a hard man and a true task master but he was a good teacher, and over my four years with him I learned an enormous amount, enough so that the University of Connecticut, in the neighboring town of Storrs, CT, offered me a full four year basketball scholarship.

Attending university was a dream come true for me and even more so for my family, so I accepted the scholarship gratefully. From 1945-’46, through 1948-’49, I was a UConn Husky, and there was never a man who wore the uniform with more pride.

In those days there were not many players of my height and bulk and so I think it is fair to say I was an asset to my team. I was never a scorer but I learned to be a very good rebounder and an even better defender. Coach Hugh Greer, a man who has always been a god to me, taught me with great patience and endless knowledge. He gave me the great compliment of repeatedly saying that I was the best defensive player he had ever coached. If that is the case it is entirely due to his tutelage.

Upon my graduation Coach Greer helped me to secure the position of history teacher/ head basketball coach at New London High School, on the CT shoreline. I remained in that position for eight years, learning my trade and improving bit by bit. In 1957 I was offered the position of assistant coach at the University of Vermont, again, through the graces of Coach Greer. I accepted, and served there, learning from a very good head coach, until 1963, when, following the tragic sudden death of Coach Greer, eventual new coach Fred Shabel took me on as his assistant at the University of Connecticut. I stayed at UConn through the Shabel, Burr Carlson, and early Dee Rowe years until, just recently, I was offered the head coach job at Akron, here in Akron, Ohio. So finally, at age 44, in 1971, I am a head basketball coach at a Division I university. I will chronicle my adventures in this new position in this journal. I believe that keeping records is important.

A little bit about my personal life. I have been married to Maria Casavetes Karabinakis, since 1953. We have a son, Achilles, Jr., age 15, born in 1956, and a daughter, Maria, who is 12, born in 1959. My wife Maria is a traditional Greek housewife. She does not work but stays at home with the children. She is an excellent cook and housekeeper and the perfect partner for me. I cannot imagine life without her and am grateful to have her in my life every single day. My children are good students and they make me proud. There is never a hint of trouble from either of them. Young Maria wishes to become a veterinarian, and studies very hard. Achilles is an accomplished football (soccer) player on his high school team, and is already sought after by many colleges. His academic interest is in the sciences, especially physics. He hopes to become a physics professor someday. My parents, unfortunately, both died young, but my wife’s parents are a treasured part of our lives and they make their home with us. Tradition is important and they provide us with a richness of the past from our native country, to which we return- all of us, every other year.

As I arrived at the campus to begin work I was struck by how fortunate I am to be here on this beautiful campus in this fine American community. Life has been very good to me. I will work very hard to deserve my good fortune.

All three assistant coaches chose to leave at the end of last season so my first task is replacing them. I want to spend a bit of money upon a recruiter since recruiting is vital to success. I will save money on the other two positions. I am most fortunate to hire Roy Baker as my #1. He is very highly regarded in the Midwest. He will recruit for me and I feel he will be a great asset. I have him for three years. John Lewis will be my #2, my scout. In our interview he showed me great analytical skills. I asked him to break down some film which he was seeing for the first time, and he saw everything I had hoped he would see. #3 is Pat Johnson, who will be my practice/bench coach. He is indeed a strategist. Naturally there will be some overlap of duties with the staff. We will meet formally twice each week but I intend to work very closely with my staff at all times. As a long time assistant myself, I know what good assistants have to offer and I intend to avail myself of all of it.

This is perhaps a good time to state that I have waited a very long time to become a head coach. For the past several years I have applied for positions throughout the country, and I was repeatedly disappointed by the meager response. I feel my credentials are impressive, my recommendations were of the highest, and I was mystified that opportunity so regularly passed me by. I began to wonder if there were an issue of bias due to my ethnicity, but there is no way to determine whether that is the case. I mention this only to state that I am more than ready. I enter the ranks of head coaching with a wealth of experience and knowledge, far beyond that of most first time coaches. I am very confident of success but then we Greeks are a confident, proud people.

#2

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June 26

“Achilles, my husband.”

“Yes, Maria.”

We speak Greek in our home but I will translate.

“Your colleagues, your compatriots, at some point they will read your diary.”

“My journal yes.”

“And they are, are they not rather interested in statistics, in ratings, in things like that, is that not true?”

“It is indeed true.”

“Then perhaps you should provide them with this information here, at the beginning of your writing.”

I can never decide whether my wife is more beautiful than she is brilliant, or more brilliant than she is beautiful. I offered the journal to her and of course she immediately hit upon an area that I had neglected.

In creating my coaching profile I did what I normally do and awarded myself 205 points: 15 for Offense, 25 for both Defense and Player Development, and 70 each for both Recruiting and Scouting. This is from a possible total of 500 points.

My ambition and integrity are both rated very high (no cheating, no early leaving in this dynasty), and both academics and discipline are rated as high. My temper is average.

Rating of 5 in all areas except: Player Rotation- 10, Offense Crash Boards- 8, Defense Crash Boards- 10, Full Court Press- 2, and Offensive Pace-6. The latter is an attempt to reduce turnovers, which tend to plague me.

Akron has a Team Prestige of 41 in the Mid-U.S. Conference which has a rating of 45. Facilities are at B- and academics at C+. We feel we can be competitive in conference. We have arranged a home and home series with Army as our non-conference rival. This opponent will probably change as we improve.

Recruiting is set to Easy but that will go to Normal in season three or so. My dream destination school is, of course, my alma mater.

I will use the Princeton offense approximately 55% of the time, and the Triangle approximately 45%, except against man to man defense of course. On defense we will employ man to man and 2-3 zone approximately equally. I will press rarely but will practice it enough to be ready to use the man to man press and the 1-2-1-1.

Today we begin recruiting. My staff and I have done an enormous amount of work and we are excited about possibilities. We have five scholarships to offer and hope to get two guards and three big men or vice versa, but I always believe in going after the best athlete available. Having said that, our returning strength next year appears that it will be inside, so guards are a priority. We will look at as many recruits as possible, continuously adding to and subtracting from our list as we gain information.

“House rules” allow me to go after any in state recruit. In region only those rated #75 or higher are eligible, and nationally and internationally only those rated #100 or higher. I am allowed to recheck and add to the list each month when the numbers change.
To begin with we look at 25 recruits.

Recruiting is a lot of tedium, calling, record keeping, gauging interest. One’s tedium must not ever show in the call or visit with the recruit of course. It is vital to remain upbeat and enthusiastic.

We whittle the 25 to 15 during July and will add new recruits at the beginning of each new month.

We are somewhat encouraged by early interest among a number of recruits.

We add 14 new recruits to the list on August 7.

#3

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August 21

“Achilles, my husband.”

“Yes, Maria?”

“You are working very, very hard, Achilles.”

“We discussed this when I took the position, Maria. I told you that during the first year I expected to work as many as sixteen hours each day.”

“Yes, I know we discussed this, but still, it is too much.”

“My health remains good, I am able to be home for dinner at 6:00 with the family almost every evening, at which time I spend at least an hour with the children. I attend most of Achilles’ games and Maria’s dance recitals. I try to find an afternoon or an evening to spend with you at the weekend. I remain aware of my duties to my family.”

“But you do not get enough sleep.”

“I have always required less sleep than you do, my wife.”

“I know this, but you have never gotten this little sleep on a regular basis.”

“Thank you for your concern, my wife, but I am fine. I will attempt to find time for a bit more sleep.”

Today we offered scholarships to three Point Guards, a Small Forward, and a Center. All are showing at least a small amount of interest in Akron.

September 18: We get our first recruit, Jon Moore, a Small Forward, currently at #43.

October 2: Al Willis, PG, and Jason Gourde, C, commit.

Today is the first day of practice.

Nov. 6: Recruiting and practice continue. We will nail down our final list of recruits today as this is the last day rating numbers will change.

I like my team. I feel that we will do well in conference. The season rapidly approaches!

We are still deciding about offers of our last two scholarships. We will decide next week.

This week’s exhibition games will help us to determine our player rotation.

Exhibitions were a great help and our line up and rotation are set.

SF Moore wound up at #40, C Gourde at #114, and PG Willis at #143.

We offer to a PG, Ray Martin, #108, and SG Ryan Puckett, #177, and feel good about our prospects of signing both.

And here it is at least, the season. I feel that we’re ready but how do you know?

#4

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November 14: We open at Maine. Little is known about them at this stage. As I sit in the hotel, preparing to leave for the game with the team many thoughts occur. At long last the moment has arrived. Here is where I test my mettle. I am optimistic and excited. I am not a man who gives in easily to emotion but I think it fitting that I feel emotion at this time.

Not the beginning I had hoped for. We were overwhelmed in the early portion of the game. I needed to call three time outs in the first half before I could get my players to follow the procedures we had practiced. By then the game was out of reach, but I was determined that we would play as we were supposed to play. From that point on we did so, and we narrowed a 22 point deficit to a final score of 71-79. We controlled the second half.

Ball handling was our plague. We had 21 turnovers. It did not help that PG Jeff Post was able to play only 19 minutes, all of them in foul trouble. Back up Clint Ray did not do badly but I need Post at PG. Our SG, Des Arch scored 20 but he too fouled out, in 30 minutes. I do not have enough guards to have both of my starters in foul trouble and that was key. My forwards held their own.

We worked very hard at practice after our opening defeat. I found that players were focused and we ran offensive sets, and practiced defensive formations until they were run properly several times in succession. I was neither harsh nor punitive but I was demanding, especially of their focus. Hopefully we will see improvement.

We return to the state of Maine to play at Lewiston. During the pregame locker room talk, and again in the huddle just before the opening tap I remind my players of what I expect.

November 17: And I get it. Or at least more of it. The first half is back and forth. We go into the locker room with a two point lead. Jeff Post committed his second foul with 4:22 left, but Clint Ray was very good in his place.

In the second half the game continues to go back and forth. Finally, with about 5 minutes left, we go on a 10-2 run, which proves to be the difference. We win 85-78.

Turnovers continue to be a disaster, 21 again tonight. We commit 19 fouls and our C, Kal Napp, fouls out. But he had 19, 6 and 3. We need him in the game. Des Arch also had 19, and the bench played well. Of course shooting 61.2% from the floor was rather a large factor.

After two road games we are 1-1. Given the difficulty of winning on the road I suppose I should be satisfied. In some ways I am but the turnover situation must be solved.

As I reflect upon our first two games I can see that there are depths as yet unplumbed in this coaching business. It seems that when I fix something, another thing requires attention. Above all is ball handling, but if I focus too narrowly upon that issue, other things will creep in to damage our efforts. At the same time I love this job. The challenge is a constant stimulation. Hopefully Maria is unaware of how little I sleep these days. My mind races so that sleep will not come easily or often.

November 20: “You do not fool me, my husband.”

“I never do, Maria. Nor is it my aim to do so.”

“A man must sleep.”

“This is true.”

“And so?”

“And so? What?”

“And so, you must sleep and you do not. You are up and down throughout the night- I hear you every time, and you wander to your study to work, come back later, repeat the pattern throughout the night. I doubt that you sleep four hours on most nights.”

“My job is very mentally stimulating.”

“Yes… it is that…”

“I do not know how to address your concern.”

“I understand that you are overstimulated. You cannot continue in good health without proper sleep. It is my belief that you should see the doctor and ask for sleeping pills.”

“Maria, I always listen respectfully to your wise suggestions but I do not wish to use drugs to solve this, or any other problem.”

“Achilles…”

“Maria…”

“We will discuss this again.”

“I have no doubt of it, my wife.”

Our three committed recruits all signed letters of intent today. Unfortunately, PG Ray Martin made it clear that he has no interest in coming here. We withdraw the scholarship and offer it instead to Wesley Jackson, PG, #104. He has us at #7 on his list and has told us he will come to campus for a visit and is interested in our school. Ryan Puckett has us at #3 and we are hopeful that we will eventually land him.

We continue on the road, journeying to Florida Gulf Coast. They are 1-1, winning their only home game.

November 21: We began the game in a fog and before we knew it we were down 8 points. I needed two time outs to solve the problem. We began to play somewhat better but at the half we were still down by six points. At the half we emphasized getting out on the three (They hit 5 in the 1st), and going in then out on offense to free up our big men for lay ups, as well as Des for outside shots.

It all worked really well and we quickly took the lead. In the end we won 62-52. Des had 19, Rahm Park 15 and 7 at PF, and Kal Napp 12, 6, 2 at C. Alas, for the third straight game we had 21 turnovers. Still, we saw some good things. We’ll simply keep working on ball handling.

I must say that 2-1 is a step up for Akron. The team had fallen upon hard times in recent years, winning no more than nine games in any of the last four seasons.

We have decided to give Lan Sawk more playing time at SF. He is playing better than our starter, Jay Moody but the latter will continue to start… for now.

We continue on the road journeying to CT to play Hamden. They are 0-3 against weak competition but road games are always dangerous. We will finally begin to play some home games following this one.

November 24: The first half was close throughout, with seven leads changes and five ties. At the end we trailed by a single point. The Hamden C dominated in the first half and we put in a plan to contain him, or to try to do so. Sadly, it did not work and he was even more of a force in the 2nd, leading Hamden to a 78-69 victory over us. Kal Napp had a very good game at C in many respects, getting 15 and 11, but his opponent had 28 points.

The difference in this game was the bench. Their nonstarters had 24, 7, 8, while ours accounted for only 9, 6, 6. The good sign was that we had 15 turnovers. But we allowed Hamden to shoot 55.8%. We are indeed a work in progress but work we shall!

The staff meetings focus upon game play and practice issues more than recruiting, but we remain actively in pursuit of our last two recruits and are optimistic.
John Lewis’ scouting reports have been very accurate, and they have helped enormously with our preparation. Sadly, our players do not always possess the talent to implement the things we practice. Again, we shall continue to work hard, and our players are learning and improving.

#5

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November 28: Once again we started slowly, going down by as many as 6 early on, but one time out fixed the problem and we went into the locker room up by 7. Their 2 and 3 were scoring too easily in the first as far as I was concerned so we stepped up the defensive effort. This slowed them both down and our lead varied from 5-13 points throughout the second half. The final was a satisfying 70-59.

Kal Napp dominated inside with 30 and 7. Rahm Park added 15. We had 16 turnovers, which is better but more than I want. 892 paid, and they were an echo in our 5,500 seat arena. I realize that winning basketball builds attendance so this will take time. For the past two seasons the average attendance has been 813, so we were above that at least.

We are back on the road for a game with tough New Mexico State but then home for three games.

NM ST likes to work it inside. I believe that our big players can hold their own but we will see. On D they go 3-2 and press very little. We have yet to see the 3-2 so it should be interesting. We’ve been working against it in practice. Let us see how that translates.

I find the 3-2, unless it is very well played, can be easy to beat IF you have a team that passes well, which we do not. You skip pass to the wings then have your 2 or 3 cut to the circle. The opposition usually doesn’t drop in time, the wing fires it into the circle and there are a lot of open 12-15 footers. If they send a big man up to cover the doughnut hole a bounce pass inside (usually a HUGE mistake but it works in this situation) will result in easy layups. I am not certain my passers can execute well enough to make this work but we will try.

December 1: So near and yet so far, 72-74. We did fine against the 3-2, using my strategy. Unfortunately we turned it over 29 times. Despite that we almost got the win. A buzzer beating three beat us.

Kal Napp was awful, playing a total of 11 minutes before fouling out, but PF Rahm Park took over with 23, and Lan Sawk and Clint Ray were great from the bench. We got our 12-15 footers, we got our layups. We were called for nine more fouls than NM ST, and that, except for the turnovers, was what ruined us. Did we commit those fouls? Well… I have seen games that were officiated better but we committed lots of the fouls. We are 3-3.

We now play 4 of 5 games at home and feel like we should have a good stretch before the start of conference play. Opportunity is knocking. But 20.5 turnovers per game will keep the door locked so we simply need to do better with that.

Wisconsin-Green Bay is in. They like to run and they work it inside to their very good PF. On D they play mostly man and rarely press. They’re 5-1 against weak teams.

December 5: Yet again we came out slowly, going down by 8 early on. We rallied back and took our first lead at the end of the half, 33-32. We pressured their PF hard in the 1st and he did almost nothing except rebound (13 for the game). Their 3 made some shots but you cannot stop everything. We decided to stay with what was working on D. Despite W-GB’s PF we felt like our advantage was inside so we worked on plans to get the ball there in the second. It worked well. We built the lead to 12 with just under 5 minutes left and coasted in. they closed the gap but it was never a serious threat. Their three at the buzzer made the final 62-58 but it was not that close.

Rahm Park had another good game, holding their PF to 4 while getting 17 and 9. Kal had 10 and 11. We had 15 turnovers, as good as we seem able to do at this point. I’ll take it.

Sub forward Al Mark banged up a shoulder. He’s gone for about a week. He does not play a lot of minutes.

There is a little buzz about the team in town. 4-3 is nothing wonderful but the team has usually been 1-6 or 2-7 at this point. We had 1,129 at our last game and the RI game coming up looks like it will be even better.

Rhode Island is 5-2. They feature lots of ball movement. On D they play man and they don’t press much. They’ve played some good teams but haven’t beaten any of them. They are 2-0 on the road though.

December 8: Perhaps our best effort of the season, 78-60. We came out strong and jumped to a quick double figure lead, and we never looked back, going in to the locker room up 45-27. Kal, Rahm and Des were all on fire, and Lan added a great deal from the bench. 16 turnovers.

We are now 5-3. 1,513 paid. The largest crowd in almost two years.

#6

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December 10:

“Achilles, my husband.”

“Yes Maria.”

“It seems you are being quite successful.”

“We have made a good beginning but it is early and it is truly the way we play against our conference opponents that will determine the level of our success.”

“Still, from what I am told, this university has not done this well in some time.”

“This is true.”

“I am happy for you, my husband. You have worked toward this for many years. I feel that you deserve success.”

“Without your support I am nothing, my wife.”

“I urge you once more to try to get more rest, Achilles. You begin to look more and more fatigued with each day that passes.”

“I admit that I am tired from time to time. I have found that I am able to take short naps at the office. I have only recently begun this practice. I find it refreshing.”

“Please do this at every possible opportunity, my husband. You are not as young as you once were.”

“I shall, Maria, I shall.”

Army is 2-4 against weak competition. Their only quality opponent, Maryland, beat them by 23. They play a quick paced offense and are balanced, without a stand out scorer. They play man to man and rarely press.

We had the luxury of five days between games. My players seem strong.

December 13: Another very strong performance, 80-64. In a complete departure, PG Jeff Post had 14 assists and 2 turnovers. The team had 7 turnovers. Everyone played well and we never trailed.

We’re 6-3. Never thought we’d start this strongly. Coaching is fun so far. Still paying careful attention to countless details, still meeting regularly with assistants and drinking in their input. Still too busy and not rested enough, although those naps are a huge help.

At 3-5 Rochester Hills next. They play the Triangle and like to move the ball around quickly. It’s man on D, and they like to press with the man press.

We took a small early lead and held it through the half but could not break away. We went in with a 27-21 lead.

Our D was really working, holding them to 25% shooting for the half. We decided to keep doing what we were doing.

We remained successful in the 2nd, winning 58-41, and holding them to 26.8% for the game. 23, 11 for Rahm, 8, 13, 3 for Kal. Unfortunately we were back to 21 turnovers, but we had 43 rebounds.

We close out the pre-conference season with 7-2 George Washington at home. After a disaster in their opener they have lost only to #3 No. Car. This is a tough team and we expect a challenge.

December 19: We were sleep walking in the 1st. They went up by eight early and held a lead of about that size through the half, going in up by 6, 29-23. Two time outs had not helped.

At the half we talked about ball movement. My players were standing around on offense. I lowered the boom. Since I rarely show anger it was effective in getting attention. I then explained with diagrams and charts what it was I sought, and told them that I expected to see it. On defense we thought this team was vulnerable to our 2-3. We sat in it, clogging up the lanes and anticipating to go for steals. Everything worked. We pulled away for a 68-52 win. Des had 18 but this was a team effort, especially in the 2nd.

So we wind up the pre-conf, season at 8-3, much better than anticipated. And we have a following. Attendance for G. W. was 3,883, enormous by our standards. I am told that the phones are ringing in the ticket office. People want season tickets for our remaining games. The conference schedule will be more challenging so I hope we do not disappoint. I purposely sought out weak opponents in the early season since I thought wins would help with confidence, recruiting and attendance. I was successful in all of those areas.

Speaking of recruiting we are considering a change. Ryan Puckett’s stock has dropped and both Andy Barber and Bryan Thompson are looking really good. We may withdraw our offer from Ryan and give it to one of those two.

It is the holiday break. Our family will get together for a traditional lamb dinner. No one makes lamb the way we Greeks do, and my Maria’s is the best in the world, at least to me.

#7

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December 27: Turnovers are down to 17.9. This is not a good number but it is considerably better than it was.

We utilize an eight player rotation and I feel I am getting good work from all eight. We do not have enormous talent but we have worked very hard to play as a unit and I feel we do this effectively more often than not.

Our best players are PF Rahm Park and C Kal Post. They have been very solid to date.

We are enjoying a five game winning streak.

Conference play begins with 6-5 Kent State, here. They have a good PG and are deliberate on offense. On defense they play straight up man with little pressure. If our big men can dominate, as they should, we will be all right.

December 29: They jumped out against us and went up by 14 in what seemed like no time. Their PG was very good, as expected. Finally, three time outs later, we decided to double him all over the floor. He then managed to get the ball to their PF for lay ups on three occasions before we stopped that. At the half they still held an 11 point lead.

My staff and I sat alone for the first few minutes of halftime, discussing strategy. We determined that our only chance lay in keeping the ball out of the PG’s hands as much as possible. We put Post on him, playing face to face, denying the ball, and it worked. None of the other Kent State players was able to do much with the ball and they had 14 turnovers in the second half. We worked it in to our C and our PF, who combined for 33 in the second half, and we won 84-77. I suppose what I learned is that there is always a way if one can look for and find it.

Kal Napp led us with 30 but thirteen turnovers versus their twenty-one was the real key.

“My husband, you are gaining weight.’

“Alas, it is so, Maria.”

“You have always been a very big man but you never had a weight problem.”

“I believe it is that I eat lunch at work, and I also have gotten into bad habits where I eat at my desk while working. That plus the fact that I take little exercise all add to the difficulty.”

“I do not like this, my husband. It is yet another case where you put your health at risk.”

“I simply do not find the time for exercise. I will stop the eating at my desk.”

“You must also exercise, my husband.”

“”You are right as always, Maria.”

“And yet I do not hear you say that you will exercise.”

Our next game is against the only ranked team in our conference, #19 Miami of Ohio, 12-2. Worse yet, it is at their gym. They run the flex offense at a normal pace. They play man and only press when absolutely necessary. Their Point Guard is very precise, even though he does not put up big numbers. The SF and PF are both very strong offensively. They have a deep bench.

January 2: Unfortunately we followed our recent pattern of falling behind early. Miami’s very good Point Guard distributed the ball to everyone and before we knew it we were down by 17. We whittled the deficit to 7 at halftime but everything was a struggle. On the plus side we were taking good care of the ball and winning the rebound battle. We decided that the 2-3 had been our least effective defense so we went with the man to man throughout the second half. We continued to chip away at the lead but never got closer than one or two points. Finally, on the last possession of the game we came down the floor with eleven seconds left, trailing 72-71. We wanted to get it inside to either Kal or Rahm but they were both tightly defended, as was Des, or first outside option. Jeff got it to Lan Sawk whose 16 footer rolled off the rim as the buzzer sounded.

While this was a very frustrating loss we take heart in that we played the best team in the conference even on their court. We need to stop falling far behind early. If we can prevent that it will make winning much easier. Only 14 turnovers tonight.

#8

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January 3: I am giving time back to Jay Moody. He has been playing better than Lan Sawk of late. Playing time will probably continue to shift back and forth between these two.

4-9, 1-1 Buffalo comes to town next. They have struggled all season but they have a very good Point Guard who constantly works the ball inside. Our big men must defend well and stay out of foul trouble. They play man, with occasional 1-3-1 and they rarely press. They have a very deep bench, especially inside.
January 5: Tonight we played basketball! We started at the very beginning and never relented, winning 71-40. Kal had 19 and 10, Rahm 13 and 4. We had 16 turnovers, and we were +16 in rebounds. This was a very satisfying win and all played well.

We have now won 10 games, the first time for ten wins in Akron in several years. And we are still early in the season. People are coming to our games, 4,007 last night, and we are getting very good press coverage. It has been a very satisfying experience so far but we will continue to work as hard as possible. Preparation is everything.

We travel to 10-5, 2-1 Ohio. This game should be a challenge. They run a very fast paced offense using the high post and distributing to all five players. Their C can dominate. They are another team that plays mostly man to man. As is often the case their bench is deeper than ours.

January 9: Tonight we reversed the pattern and jumped out to an early lead. We were ahead by as many as fifteen in the first half and all seemed well when we went into the locker room up by 12. Rahm and Kal dominated the first half.

And then we came out for the second half and completely fell apart. We could not make a shot, and a back up SG went red hot for them, getting 23 points in the half. The result was a very disappointing 68-74 loss. This one is difficult to analyze in that we were +1 in turnovers, + 9 in rebounds, and we were called for 7 fewer fouls. With those numbers victory should be assured. Our three point defense was the major culprit. We allowed them to make 8 threes and that was indeed the difference. There are so many factors to consider in the game of basketball. I say again, we shall continue to work, and the staff will continue to analyze and to implement plans that will help us to improve. I refuse to become discouraged.

Young Achilles is playing in a winter indoor soccer league. I was able to watch his game yesterday. He has my build. He is 6’4” and weighs 235 pounds. He is a fullback, naturally. He moves very well for his size. He will never be fast but he has excellent reaction time. The major colleges scout him at nearly every game and the coaches are already courting him even though he has yet one more year of high school ahead of him.

My little Maria is a wonderful dancer. She studies ballet most seriously. I joy in watching her when she has a concert. My children and my wife add a richness to my life that is truly wondrous. As busy as I am I try never to forget this, and I work hard to find time to spend with my family.

5-10, 1-3 Bowling Green is in town next. They seem to me to be better than their record indicates. Their guards move the ball well and their forwards rebound and score. The team is difficult to defend and they play a strong man to man. They have two three point losses to ranked teams. I am working hard to assure that my players do not take this team lightly.

January 12: Rahm Park had an outstanding night with 27 and 10. He led us to a 78-70 victory that, while not easy, was in fact comfortable in that we rarely led by fewer than 5-7 points. Jeff Post played very well.

We continue to work our recruits. It is a quiet time but we need to finish the process. We have offered to two who have yet to commit and we are pursuing a back up just in case. All three are Point Guards.

Our record is currently 11-5, 3-2, and our RPI is 66. If we can continue we will certainly be invited to one of the postseason tournaments. This is something we very much want to happen.

We travel to 4-12, 0-5 Western Michigan. Few things worry more than playing a team that is doing this poorly. The chance that they may snap out of it at any time is my fear, along with the all but inevitability of my boys not taking the team seriously enough. We are working hard. They run a very, very fast paced offense, featuring outside shooting. On a night when threes fall they could be trouble. We must get out on the shooters. This has been a struggle for us in some games. They play a man defense. They have lost seven in a row but all have been close. Again, I am worried.

January 16: And all of my worst fears were realized. We did nothing right all evening, losing 74-56 in a game that was perhaps not that close. For the second time this season we committed 29 turnovers. The less said the better.

The dilemma when something like this occurs is how to react as a staff.

After the game the staff met in my hotel room for two hours. After a great deal of discussion and much back and forth disagreement, and not a little heat, we decided to move forward, placing little emphasis on this terrible performance. At practice we will do the things we do, work hard to fix the things that need fixing. We will choose not to dwell upon, or even to mention this game. There is truly little to be gained by using a poor performance as a hammer. We will be positive and optimistic while doing our work.

#9

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January 18: I have been around the college basketball world long enough to know that a typical season has ebbs and flows. There are times when a team is doing very well. All is smooth, things simply flow. At other times the rhythm seems to disappear, inexplicably. It becomes difficult to discover the source of the problems, and often frustration aids the downward spiral. I believe that during such a time it is very important to stay positive, to remind players and the team as a whole of their strengths, and to express confidence that things will improve rapidly. We are following that course at present.

We continue on the road with a game at Central Michigan, 6-11, 3-3. This team plays very well at home. They have a big, strong C who scores points. Kal simply must have a good game and stay out of foul trouble. That is the key to this game.

January 19: We play well and win easily but it is a costly victory. More on that in a moment. The first half was back and forth. We went in leading 36-33. Their SG and C were doing the damage so we made the necessary adjustments. We felt that we could work the ball to Kal regularly. While the opposition C played well on offense he was a poor defender. Our strategy worked. Kal wound up getting the ball over and over again. He had 28 and 16 at the end and was the difference in our 77-60 win. Rahm and Jay Moody got the ball when they began to overplay Kal, and both took advantage. Our inside play was simply dominating. The rebounding edge was +24.

Al Mark, our #3 inside player, tore his ACL. He is out for the season, and probably for most of next year as well. It is a very bad tear. This will mean more minutes for Lan Sawk and Jay Moody, neither of whom is the rebounder Al is. Injuries are part of the game and we must adjust and move on.

Our conference, Mid-U.S., has two divisions. Miami of Ohio leads ours at 6-1. We are at 4-3, as is Ohio. Three teams in the West Division are at the top at 4-3.
10-8, 4-3 Eastern Michigan is in town. They play flex and are strong inside. On defense they play man most of the time and they press often. If we can beat the press and if our big men play well things should go our way. We hope the victory in our last game was the beginning of a good stretch.

January 23: This was a wonderful game for fans and an ulcer producer for the coaches. We played well in the first half but never could stretch the lead. It was 27-22 at the end of a hard fought half. Kal and Rahm controlled the inside which we felt was vital. This was the type of game where there were really few adjustments to be made. It was going to be a bruising inside game and we knew we simply needed to execute. And indeed, the second half was exactly as expected. The lead went back and forth with 12 changes and 6 ties. Finally, with 12 seconds left we got the ball after a made basket. We were down 54-53. I do not like to call a time out in that situation unless our team seems confused. We practice for this and I want my players to take the responsibility. A time out simply gives the opposition the opportunity to better prepare. Jeff Post knew he wanted to get the ball to either Kal or Rahm, and that was what he set out to do. Both were tightly defended. Finally, with time running out he passed to Len Sawk, who was fouled as he shot at the buzzer. The foul was obvious and had to be called. Lan stepped to the line and made the first. The opposition called a time out. After the time out Lan made the second free throw, giving us a 55-54 win. A key to victory was that we committed only 11 turnovers. Lan played very well in his new role. He picked up most of the inside minutes that had been going to Al Mark, and wound up with 12 and 7. Kal had 20 and 10.

When I reached home that evening Maria greeted me at the door.

“Congratulations, my husband. This was a wonderful victory.”

“Yes indeed. Did you enjoy the game.”

“That is perhaps not the word I would use. It was a very stressful game.”

“For me as well, but that is the nature of the game. It is so important to win this type of game. It was gratifying.”

“And I see on your face that it took a toll.”

“I am indeed exhausted.”

“So you will go to bed?”

“At once.”

“Good. I hope you will sleep through the night.”

“As do I.”

And I did. It was as good a night’s sleep as I have gotten in some time though I do remember replaying the game as I slept.

10-9, 4-4 Northern Illinois visits next. On paper these two teams are very evenly matched. They very deliberately paced triangle offense and feature a balanced attack. On defense they play a 2-3 and press regularly. They have a deep bench and so they keep fresh legs in the game. I am concerned that my seven man rotation will be tested by this. Still, I believe we are the better team.

For the first time in almost six years, every ticket for the game has been sold.

January 26: We responded so well to their pressure that they were forced to stop pressing after only a few minutes. When they tried again in the second half the result was the same. Tonight we showed a discipline on offense that made me want to jump for joy. Passing was crisp, good decisions were made, and we had only thirteen turnovers. Most of our scoring cam inside with 21 and 4 for Rahm, 14, 12, 2 for Kal, and 12, 5, 3 for Jay Moody. Jeff Post played perhaps his best game of the season.

We are now at 14-6, 5-3, tied with Ohio for second place in our Division.

#10

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January 29: This is a very important day in college basketball. SAT results are announced and that can change a great deal. I am not particularly worried about my recruits. I believe they will all reach the score needed for admission. At times one can pick up a player however, who reaches our score but does not achieve the needed score for his school of choice. We are ready for that possibility.

And indeed we are looking at five new recruits. With the injury to Al Mark, which may be career ending, we find we would like to consider adding a big man.
Demetrius Casavetes, my father in law, has become our biggest fan. A solidly built man of 75 years, Demetrius spent his life as a tradesman. There is seemingly nothing he cannot fix, make or transform. He has worked at plumbing, electrical work, auto mechanics, carpentry, stone work, and on and on. He still takes on odd jobs. He comes to all of our games with my Maria, and is dressed in our team colors always. He cheers loudly for our team, and loves nothing more than discussing Akron basketball. When I have the chance I sit with him and o just that. I am not able to do it often but I know it means a great deal to him so I try to find the opportunities.

We travel to Toledo to face the 9-11, 4-5 Missiles. They have lost their last three, which of course troubles me. They run a lightning quick flex offense and try to get the ball inside. They play man to man.

January 30: A disappointing night. Our offense never seemed to jell and it was damaged fatally by 24 turnovers. Only Kal, 22 and 7, played well. On defense we were a step slow, allowing too many open looks.

And it is suddenly somehow February. The season flies past. At this point every game is important.

8-13, 5-5 Muncie is in. We feel we have a sizable advantage inside and a slight edge outside. But we must play well, as always.

February 2: Tonight we were a different team. After a typical slow start we warmed to the task and quickly took charge, building a 30-24 halftime lead. In the second half Des Arch was hitting outside shots, and our big men controlled the inside game. We won 65-53. I was pleased that we had but 14 turnovers.

None of the new recruits jumps out at us but 2-3 are worthy of consideration.

We travel to 10-12, 4-7 Kent State for a rematch. We won by 7 at our place. Their PG is their best player.

February 6: This was our night. We dominated from beginning to end, winning 82-65 in a game that was not that close. Everyone played well.
#23 Miami of Ohio, 21-4, 10-2, is here for a rematch. We lost by one there, and are feeling good about our chances in this game. This is a very good team, and the game will not be easy, but we feel we have the tools to do well. It will probably decide nothing since they hold a two game lead over us but still, a victory would be good on many levels. There is also the fact that we remain tied for second with Ohio. We will need to keep their PG from distributing the ball the way he wishes to, and we must keep track of the SF and the C. On offense we will need to mix it up. It will help if Des is hitting shots. That will allow us to work the ball inside more easily.

February 9: I can honestly say that I did not expect an easy win, but that is what we got, 77-60. It is more than a decade since Akron has beaten a ranked team and the campus and the town are celebrating. Kal was overwhelming inside, Des did indeed hit shots, Rahm and Jay played very well all over the court, and we committed only 10 turnovers. We excelled in all areas of the game.

With three conference games to play in the regular season, there are three teams in our division within a game of each other.

We are off to 8-16, 5-8 Buffalo. We beat them by 31 at home. This is the type of game that can be dangerous. Our boys no doubt believe that they can win easily, and they should do so, however, overconfidence can lead to lack of focus, which often leads in turn to disaster. We have worked hard to try to keep our players focused in practice.

February 13: Our solid play continues, 68-50. I was unhappy with our 19 turnovers but they had 21. Kal, Rahm and Des led us, and the defense was outstanding.

In the final two conference games we play Ohio at home and then Ohio hosts Miami. That leaves the possibility of our winning the title if things go well. I did not expect to be in this position. We are 18-7, 10-4.

#11

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February 14: “Achilles, my husband. You are exceeding all expectations. I am very pleased for your success.”

“Thank you, Maria.”

“And now the pressure, I am certain, will increase.”

“That is the nature of this business. It shall indeed.”

“You continue to look fatigued.”

“I have been getting more sleep, and I no longer make poor choices about my diet. I am trying.”

“Yes, you are trying. I hope it is enough."

We lost by six at Ohio earlier in the season. It was a game we could have won. Their back up SG beat us with a tremendous shooting night. He will not surprise us this time, we will be ready. They have an edge in guard play but we feel we make up for it in the front court. As always, in games of this type, it will likely come down to execution. We must take care of the ball, and set good picks against their man to man defense.

February 16: Not tonight. The game became a defensive struggle and we simply did not hit shots, shooting only 32.1% in a 59-48 loss. We cannot expect to win when scoring only 48. We took good care of the ball, committing only 14 turnovers, but we lost the battle of the boards, -7, and except for Kal, 16 and 7, and Jay Moody, 13, 4, 3, no one showed any offense. We actually played good defensive basketball. I will give up 59 on most nights. That should leads to victory. The loss means we will finish third in our division.

We play a Bracket Breaker at home against Valparaiso next. They are 14-12. While we should win I have mixed feelings. Our players have gone through a long hard season and with the playoffs coming soon I would prefer to rest. On the other hand games hone skills in ways that practice cannot.

February 19: 89-64. It was never a game. A season high 26 for Des, 16 for Clint Ray, and everyone contributed. 8 turnovers.

And we need to take a midnight flight to play at Bowling Green. We won by 8 at home but we will be very tired for this game. Fortunately we will finish third in our division whether we win or lose. Their strength is in the back court.

February 20: It wasn’t pretty but we got the job done, 66-59. 18 turnovers, -12 on the boards. Good shooting, 54%, was the difference, as was good defense.
And so we end the regular season at 20-8, 11-5, with an RPI of 65. The playoffs await.

#12

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I rest the players for three days- no practice. The only responsibility is the nightly mandatory study hall.

After two weeks without a game we will play Toledo in the round of eight. They won by 15 at their place. We had a very bad night. We feel that if we play our game we should win. Our big men need to be on top of their game for this to happen.

March 7: I was concerned that the long layoff might have a negative effect but that was not the case. We came out strong and took control immediately. We won 78-60 in a game that was never close. Kal had his best game ever, 34 and 11.

All of the favorites advanced so we will play Ohio. They beat us by six and then eleven so we have our work cut out for us. Last week we could not find ways to score upon them. This must change if we are to have a chance.

March 8: We found ways, 75-71. This was a competitive game all the way. We led by as many as 13 early and trailed by as many as 6 on three occasions. Finally, in the final moments of the game we were able to find Des Arch for three straight baskets from outside. The Ohio defense had collapsed in on our big men and this left Des free. He did not waste his opportunities. This was a sweet victory and we will now play for the title against Miami of Ohio.

We split the home and home series this season, losing there by one, and then winning at home by 17. In order to win we must control their guard play on defense, and get the ball inside on offense.

March 9: 10 lead changes, 9 ties, close most of the way, but at the end we didn’t quite get there, 62-68. You have to hate it when the officiating has a huge impact on the final score in a big game. It did here, and more. Kal Napp is a great defender who rarely, if ever gets into foul difficulties. Tonight every time he tried to play defense the whistle blew. He fouled out in only fifteen minutes of play. At least three of the calls were questionable. I received my first technical of the season and came within an eyelash of getting my second. Did the refs beat us? The fouls were 25-14. I give credit to Miami, but they certainly had lots of help tonight.

Our season isn’t over. I’m sure we’ll go somewhere. Not sure we did enough to go to the Big Dance but we’ll dance somewhere.

March 12: NIT #1 seed in the Midwest. Let’s win this tourney! First up is Tennessee State, 18-13. Their strength is in the back court.

March 13: A close first half. 35-33 at the break. Their PG and bench did the damage. We will put some pressure on in the second. It works and we put the game out of reach quickly. The final is 64-52. 16 and 10 for Kal, 15 and 10 for Rahm, 17, 9, 2 for Des. 16 turnovers, +19 on the boards. A good start!

21-10 East Carolina is next. They are tough inside and their SG can score. They play man and press fairly often.

March 15: A repeat of last game in many way. The first half was close all the way and we ended it tied. Their SG and PF did too much scoring too easily in the first. We stayed in their faces in the second. At the same time we worked it inside over and over again. They couldn’t stop Kal who ended up with another great performance, 25 and 14. 15 turnovers.

We’re in the round of eight, and we’re 24-9!

#13

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18-12 Auburn, from a big time conference, is next. They freewheel out of the flex and play mostly 2-3. We are far more used to playing man but we should be ready. Their PF is excellent and their SG can hurt you from outside. This will be a challenge.

March 20: Another very close first half, down 23-24 at the break. Des and Jeff both picked up 2 fouls and had to sit for too long, which hurt us. I was forced to play two guys I don’t play much and there were squandered opportunities.

In the second the whistles continued and we began to fall behind. Early on Des sprained a finger. He played but he wasn’t himself. With 6:15 left we went down 13, and it proved to be too much. It was 56-65 at the end. Des fouled out in 26 minutes and Jeff wound up with 4. A disappointing way to end, especially since we committed only 10 turnovers.

A great season, 24-10. We surpassed all expectations. And we lose only Des and Len!

March 26: PG Wes Jackson, #104, signs. Deciding whether to cut any players in order to chase more recruits. We decide that two guys, a junior who did not play this year and will likely not play next, and Al Mark, who the docs predict will take at least another year, perhaps more to recover, if he does at all, will be getting hardship scholarships instead of athletic next year. We are going after a PG and a big.

April 1: Antonio King, C, #84 signs.

April 4: Conference Awards: Freshman Kal Napp gets POY, Freshman OY, and first team, all well deserved. Rahm Park is named Defensive POY and second team. Des Arch is named to the first team. We did great and I am thrilled for my players.

Team Prestige rises to 45. No head coaching jobs are offered. I did not expect any and I very much wish to be here next year. I would love to move up at some point, but not yet.

April 9: My coaching ratings move up in all areas except Scouting, Reputation is at 41.

April 16: We wound up signing all of our recruits, 4 PGs, 2 Cs and an SF. It looks like a good crop!

I need to hire #2 and #3 assistants. Both of mine received promotions at other schools. I will miss them. We were a good team. #1, Roy Baker will continue as my recruiter, thankfully. He did a great job this year. Curt Blue will be my scouting coach. I have him for two years. Pat Johnson will be my bench/Practice coach for the next two years.

April 23: I ask the Board for more money. I make a strong case in that attendance went up by an average of 2,144 per game. That’s a lot of revenue. I get an additional $10,000. I’ll take it!

I must say that I am very happy with our first year here in Akron. 24-10, final round in our conference tournament, round of eight in the NIT. No one would have predicted those things for us. Hopefully even better next year.

We took a few days to head back to CT to visit friends and family. It was a nice trip.

#14

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May 1: And year two begins.

“Achilles, my husband.”

“Yes Maria.”

“A few days rest has done you a world of good. You looked rested.”

“It is true.”

“And now, you will pay heed to your need for rest.”

“I actually believe I will be able to work less this year, Maria. The first year is truly impossible in this profession. Be aware though that I will never be working only eight hours a day. That is simply not possible in this type of work.”

“I know this, Achilles, but you must try to limit your hours to perhaps no more than 60 each week.”

“HA! If only that were possible! I am aware of how fatigued I became last season. I will try to do better and I appreciate the fact that you will be helping.”
We will purchase the Gold Scouting Report for the Midwest and the basic for both national and international players. This will leave us with $56,500 for pursuit of transfers and recruits. It should be ample.

(Caution: Recruits get a name change once they join the team. This is for one of two reasons: 1. Too many Jackson, Williams… 2. I keep to short names to make the typing easier.)

We have five open slots, and room for one transfer if a good one is available. We are solid up front and will be looking only at Point Guards, Shooting Guards, and Small Forwards who are good with the ball.

June 9: We go for a PG from Louisiana State.

June 16: And we lose him to CT. We’ll take our chances with recruiting. Done here.

June 26: Recruiting begins. Hope there are lots of guards in the pool!

Looking at 14 PGs and an SF.

July 4: Down to 11, 10 PGs.

August 7: Added three. There is some interest from a few good looking recruits.

August 21: We offer to four PGs and a PF. We saw a couple of bigs we liked and this one is well worth pursuing.

“Achilles, my husband.”

“Yes Maria.”

“I do not see that you are working any less hard than you did last year.”

“But I am, Maria, I am.”

“This you must explain to me.”

“All right, I shall try. First, have you not noticed that I am here for a longer period of time in the late afternoon and evening each day?”

“Yes, I admit that on most days this is true.”

“Second, have you noticed that I sleep better? I do not rise continuously during
the night in order to work in my office?”

“Yes. This still happens occasionally but far less frequently than it did last year.”

“And so, I have demonstrated some ways in which I work less hard. What you may not have noticed is that I am far less tense. The stress of the first season, of doing everything for the first time is now gone. When I come to a task, I have already done the task once, and so I have experience, I have familiarity. It is no longer necessary to learn from the beginning.”

“This is good, Achilles.”

“It is indeed good, Maria. There is still much to learn, and I embrace the learning, but there is also much that is comfortably familiar. Does this ease your mind?”

“It does, to an extent, but I still see you working seven days each week, and for as many as twelve to fourteen hours each day.”

“Which is down from fourteen to sixteen hours.”

“It is. I think that ten to twelve hours should be the maximum. You have no time for hobbies, for friends, for relaxation, for reading.”

“I make time for family, which is very important to me. I was never particularly involved with the other things of which you speak, except for reading, which I do miss. Perhaps soon.”

“I hope so, my husband.”

#15

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September 18: We get a verbal from PG Andy Kohl, currently #118. And we have a schedule. Two ranked teams plus the Las Vegas Winter Jam. It is great to be in a tournament!

September 25: Two more commitments: PG Frank Hill, #221, and PG J. P. Jones, #305. Still looking for a PG and a big man. Rating numbers go up and down. They all went in the wrong direction this month so they will head back the other way soon. I do not concern myself too much with this.

October 2: No new commitments. We’re looking at an additional big man.

Today is the first day of practice. I elect to red shirt two freshmen guards. I see much potential but they simply are not ready. I like my starting line up, and we will have more bench this year, or at least that appears to be the case at this early stage. I would like one more reliable back up guard but I have two to develop for the position.

October 9: We lose a guard we were hoping to land. I think we will go back into the pool and add some more guards. We add ten, mostly guards but frankly, the pool water was not deep.

We are picked to finish first in conference. I welcome the challenge.

October 16: There simply does not seem to be a lot of talent left in this year’s pool. I still am holding a scholarship. This is rare at this stage. I will hold this until the final ratings change in November and will decide at that point.

November 6: We drop several prospects on the last change of ratings, and we add about the same number.

We will play two exhibitions this week. I cannot wait to see what I will learn about my team.

November 13: My line up is set and we’re ready to go. We’re still holding that final scholarship. I have not found anyone I want to offer it to yet.

#16

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We open at home with Loudonville. It’s a sell out. The season is sold out. We reserve about 1,800 tickets for students so technically we are not sold out since those go on a game by game basis, but students line up hours in advance for these tickets. Sales of these tickets are assured.

A good start to the season, 75-67. Only 12 TOs. Rahm starts off the way he finished last season, 20 and 8. SG Jon Morr has 17.

On the road with Tennessee State.

November 19: The first half is close all the way and ends up 33-33. In the second only Morr is hitting shots. He goes for 33 but the rest of our guys are awful and we lose 76-68. We did a lot of standing around on offense. We will be working on that. I am not happy.

The three PGs who committed to us all sign. I’m looking at one last big man.
Hopefully we’ll like him enough to offer to him. If not, we will wait to see what happens on SAT day, January 29.

I was really not happy with our loss. This is a team we should have beaten easily. For the first time in months I have a sleepless night, but I did not waste the time. I have some ideas.

1-2 Ithaca is in. We feel we should dominate them, especially inside.

November 23: And we did dominate, 74-53. Jon Morr is a real scoring machine, 21, 6 and 2. We were +13 in rebounds with only 13 TOs. A good win.

Next up is a challenge #12 Illinois from the Big 10, there. Their C is very strong and their SG can score. They do a lot outside but do get it to the C.
November 26: Another back and forth first half. We go in down 39-41. As expected their SG and C did most of the damage in the first. We decide to stay with the man, but to go harder to the boards. We’re +3 at the half but it just seems like we should be dominating in that area.

Everything goes our way in the second. We wind up +20 in rebounds for the half, we hold their C to 3 points and 1 RB, and their SG to 2 points. Kal has 15 and 14, Jon Morr 19 and 5, Rahm 12 and 8, and Art King 15, 5, 2 at SF. Rick Bakk dishes well at the Point. This is the highest ranked team we’ve beaten since I got here. Things are looking up!

We offer to PF Johnny Byrd, #110. We have scouted him, looked at lots of tape, and we like his attitude. Let’s see if he likes us. We think he’s at least somewhat interested.

We’ve been sharing the Point among three players. Rick Bakk has stood out and we’re giving him the minutes.

My son Achilles continues to draw much attention from soccer coaches around the country. I would like him to stay near home but he wishes to play at a competitive program that is also a very high quality school. It is difficult to argue this point. At present he is looking most seriously at Cornell, Stanford, and North Carolina, all of which have very good soccer programs. They are, of course, extremely fine universities as well. I believe his interest in physics will lead him to either Cornell or Stanford. North Carolina is better in other academic areas. We will see.

2-2 Washington is in. I can’t say how great it is to play in front of large, enthusiastic crowds. It really gets my players going. Washington has a big wide body at C, and they have quick guards. If Kal can contain the C we should be fine.

November 30: Their C was definitely a player but Kal matched him and the rest of the positions were all mismatches in our favor. 82-71. Kal, Jon and Rahm got the points. Rick had 8 TOs, which was really the only sour note. TOs have been better so far this season but not tonight.

And now we’re away until December 31. 6-8 consecutive road games, depending upon how we do in the Las Vegas Jam. We’ll come home in between games when we can but how does this happen? When we put the schedule together I let A. D. Fern Halley know how upset I was. He was not helpful. This cannot happen again.

#17

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We start at 2-3 Air Force, another team with a strong C. He isn’t that tall but he is wide and strong, and he scores, rebounds and plays defense.

December 3: Amazingly, we hold them to 15 in the first half and go on to win 67-46. 21 and 15 for Kal, who ate up their C. 18 and 10 for Rahm, 12, 7, 3 for Art King. Except for the one stumble we’ve played really well so far.

My father in law, Demetrius, has taken to dropping by the office. He is very popular with the athletic department staff. He is a story teller and a charmer and he seems to brighten everyone’s day. I must speak with Maria though. He is most welcome but I cannot have him here too often. The occasional visit will be a delight but too frequent visits will turn him into an annoyance, and will lead to his feelings being hurt, sooner or later. Maria is wonderful about handling this type of situation and I have every confidence that she will solve the issue.

We are at 3-4 Valparaiso next. We did not go home but simply traveled west. We have our school assignments with us. It is not a good situation though. The players practice, go to study hall, eat together, but even with studying there is too much free time. They are bored. We organize trips to movies, museums, parks, whatever is in the area where we are staying, but again, it is not good. And we will be away for a long time still. Maintaining focus is sure to become a problem.

Yet again we face a team with a strong Center. These things seem to run in cycles. Next year everyone will have strong Shooting Guards, or Small Forwards. With Kal in the middle I feel comfortable about facing a good Center.

December 6: Valparaiso chose to play slow down basketball. Their defense was very effective and this tactic worked for most of the game. With 3:29 left we were up 52-51, without the ball. They missed a three point shot, we rebounded, and then we proceeded to score the last six points to win 58-51.

It was good test though. I was pleased with the fact that we did not lose our poise or our patience.

Kal neutralized their C. Jon had 19 and Rick 14 with 6 assists.

We are averaging 15.4 turnovers per game, much better than last season.
My goal as a coach is always 12 turnovers or less but that may be unrealistic at present.

We are going home for two days. I want the boys to sleep in their own beds.
It may not happen again for almost two weeks if we are successful in Las Vegas.

“Achilles, my husband.”

“Yes Maria.”

“It is good to see you.”

“As always, my wife, I miss you when I am away. Yes, it is good to be home, even if it is briefly.”

“I must discuss a situation that has arisen.”

“I am listening.”

“There is a man who is very interested in Maria.”

“WHAT! What do you mean!”

“Oh… no, no, nothing like that. This man has a very famous dance studio in Cleveland. I am told it is the very best in this entire part of the country.”

“Yes?”

“He saw Maria dance at a competition and he is very interested in her. He feels she has the potential to be a very talented dancer.”

“We were always told that she started too late, that the really great dancers began at age two or three.”

“Yes, this is true, but he says it is a factor that can be overcome.”

“What are you asking?”

“I am not certain. This may be a wonderful opportunity and I would like us to at least investigate further.”

“Yes, that is fine. And what does Maria say?”

“She is tempted. You know how much she loves dance, but at the same time she is determined to pursue her studies and to become a veterinarian. She cannot do both.”

“This is true. I suggest we meet this man and speak with him, with Maria joining us, of course. At that point the three of us can sit and make some decisions.”

“Will you contact him?”

“Yes, I will.”

We are at 3-4 Wisconsin-Green Bay next. They like to work the ball inside.

December 10: Rahm and Art were virtually unchallenged tonight. Rahm had 27, 8, 2, and Art 25, 6, 2. We had 11 TOs. The final was 89-72.

We are scoring lots of points this year, 75.0 is our average. Perhaps we have too easy a schedule. We will be playing stronger opponents in Las Vegas, and we play Arizona soon after. Those games may bring us back to reality.

We had a long, very interesting meeting with the dance master. Afterward my wife, my daughter and I discussed our options. My daughter Maria, while tempted by the opportunity, felt that the sacrifices involved were more than she was willing to make. In a very mature fashion she decided that the pursuit of a career in veterinary medicine was preferable to pursuing the dance opportunity. She will continue at her present dance studio. When I called to inform the dance master it was clear that he was disappointed. I am proud of my daughter for making the choice she made.

We are making little progress in the pursuit of our last two recruits. They both continue to show slight interest in the program but no more. Since there are really no other viable options at present we will continue our efforts with both of them.

The road grows more tedious by the day. We are at 3-3 Army next. They are strong at PG and SF out of the triangle.

December 13: We contained their PG but their SF had a big game. We led most of the way but it remained close throughout. At the end we won 70-65.

Kal led us once again with 23, 7, 2. Art had 13 and 11. Unfortunately we had a season high 22 turnovers. We countered that by being +13 in rebounds.

We are off to Las Vegas.

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We are the #7 seed in this eight team tourney. We play #2 seed, 3-4, LSU. SG and SF do a lot of scoring but they do work it inside. On D it’s all man to man.

December 16: As fierce a battle as we’ve been in, 86-93, OT. We fought long and hard in this one and almost pulled it off. We got the last shot in regulation. Jon Morr’s 15 footer rimmed out after circling twice. Then in OT they hit shots, we didn’t. 31, 9 for Kal. We knew their SG and SF were their scorers and that’s the way it turned out. We tried several things but never really stopped those two.

A quick exit, but we played well and it’s difficult to be too disappointed.

At 5-5 Arizona in our last pre-conference game. They score at all positions except the Point, and he dishes well. They have a very balanced attack.

They’ve been very up and down so far.

December 21: We talked about bouncing back before the game, how we did not want to lose two in a row before beginning conference play. And then we came out on fire, building a lead of as many as 23 before ending the half up 43-22. The front court did the damage but the back court got the ball inside and took great care of the ball, committing only 4 TOs in the first. At the end it was 68-57, but it really wasn’t that close. 21, 9 for Kal, 15, 5 for Rahm, 12, 7 for Art, 11 TOs, +10 RBs.

We are at 9-2, with an RPI of 20 heading to conference play.

We had a great holiday. I gave the team a few days off to get home to celebrate with family. It was back to practice on the 26th.

5-6 Bowling Green is in to start conference play. They have struggled against good teams.

December 31: A good start to the conference season. Their SG had a good night and kept them close for a long time, but we adjusted, slowed him up, and won 89-72. Kal had 21 and 14, Jon 17 and 6. 21 TOs, which has me shaking my head.

We travel to 7-5 Buffalo. They’ve won 4 in a row but against weak teams.

January 4: We just keep rolling, 68-56, one of our lower scoring games, but we were in control all the way. Only 13 TOs. Kal led us again, but everyone contributed.

At 5-8 Kent State. They’ve really struggled lately.

January 7: The road jumped up and bit us. We had a really good first half, going in up by 7, but I didn’t feel a lot of energy. When we came out for the second there was none. We lost the lead and seemed to stand and watch as Kent State drove down the highway, leaving us in the dust. 58-73. Frankly, this was overdue, the road has been endlessly long. We’ll keep going and we won’t make a big deal of this. I need to remember not to work the guys too hard in practice. We will need those legs strong.

A home game before yet two more on the road. 6-8, 2-1 Ohio is in. They run a balanced attack and play man.

January 11: Rahm was unstoppable tonight, 25 and 12. 17 for Kal and a 73-52 win. 9 TOs. Why are we so up and down in this category. It is maddening. Still, we are averaging 15.4, which is a big improvement.

“Achilles, my husband.”

“Yes Maria.”

“I have been thinking.”

“This is good, Maria. You are a very good thinker.”

“As you know I have always been interested in philosophy, particularly our own ancient Greek philosophers.”

“I know this. You have always read their work, and the criticism of their work, and articles and books related to or based upon their work.”

“Yes. And so I have been thinking.”

“And…?”

“And… our situation as a family has changed. The children are growing and will soon leave us.”

“Alas, this is true. Achilles will leave in only a few months.”

“And Maria in a couple of years.”

“And so? Maria, you usually have no difficulty in expressing your thoughts.”

“Achilles, I wish to return to school.”

“Ah.”

“When we met I was studying philosophy and I loved it. I got my degree but then we were married and the children came. I begrudge and regret none of that. I have been very happy. But I am not needed so much in that role any more. As I think about my future I find that a return to academia is very compelling for me.”

“So you wish to pursue a Master’s degree in philosophy?”

“No, I wish to pursue a Ph. D. in philosophy.”

“I think this is a wonderful idea, I applaud you and I will support you.”

“Oh Achilles, I was certain that you would feel this way but still I was nervous to ask.”

“Whatever for? You have always had my support.”

“Yes, but I have also always been right here for whatever you needed, whenever you needed it.”

“Ah. Maria, I believe our love is strong enough that this change will not harm us. Indeed I believe it will bring us closer together. Please apply here, or wherever you wish to apply. Understand though, a Ph. D. normally takes three or four years. I may not be here in Akron for that long.”

“I have considered that possibility. I believe that the courses I will take in at least the first year, and perhaps in the second year as well, will be transferable. At least most of them will be.”

“I am happy for you that you have made this decision.”

“I hope to be accepted and to begin in the fall, or perhaps even to take a course in the summer. I will not neglect my duties at home but there may be changes and accommodations to be made."

"We will speak with your parents and with the children. All will be well.”

We go to 1-14, 0-4 Miami of Ohio. Last year they were the class of the conference. Everyone graduated and they have had two ACLs. As I have said before this is the kind of game that scares the h*ll out of me. They have nowhere to go but up, and we’re up.

January 14: Okay, no need to worry, 74-45. It was never a game. I played everyone and everyone contributed. 16 TOs, too many against this team.

I’m giving more minutes to Jay Gore, who has really been producing up front.

At Eastern Michigan, 10-6, 3-2, before we come home for three games. I need to keep the focus. The guys are thinking “Home, home, home” and they need to think about this team, which is pretty good. They are thin at guard but the guys they play take good care of the ball. Inside they play a lot of people and try to wear you out. They play a solid man. We’ll need to bring our game.

January 18: Another of those games that is extremely exciting to watch, and a cardiac waiting to happen for the coaches. E. Mich. controlled the first half. They took an early 10 point lead and hung on. I mixed things up on D, switching from 2-3 to man, fronting the C, who was hurting us, pressuring the Point. Finally we had a late mini-run and went in down 27-33.

We were -7 on the boards and had no success getting the ball inside so we drew up some things. On D, what had worked best was staying really close to the PG, so we determined to do that. And bit by bit we broke them down.

With 7:42 left we tied it on a three by Rick and it was back and forth the rest of the way. They scored to take a 59-58 lead with 11 seconds left. As usual I did not call for a time out.

Rick worked it to Jon, who skipped it over to Art who drew an inside defender out of position. He looped it over the guy’s head to Rahm who jammed with .3 to play (The refs looked at the replay forever on that one.). 60-59.

Whew! 18 TOs for -2, -2 on the boards, -3 in fouls, but the big number? +1 on the scoreboard!

We are tied for first with Kent State, the only two teams in the conference at 5-1. Two are at 4-2, one in each division. We are a very solid 14-3 overall.

Home sweet home for 6 of or last 10, which puts us in a good position.

#19

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“Achilles, my husband, I have good news!”

“And what is that, Maria?”

“I have been accepted to the Ph. D. program here at the University of Akron!”

“My congratulations. I am overjoyed!”

“As am I. I met with my advisor today and I will take a statistics course during the summer. We are planning my coursework for the fall semester and will outline the entire course of study for the next three years over the course of the next few days.”

“Again, that is wonderful news!”

“Don’t worry, I will attend to my duties at home.”

“First of all, your studies must come first. I make very good money, Maria. We should hire someone to clean the house. There is no need for you to do that when you will have other, more important duties to perform.”

“I would never-”

“Maria, please at least give this some thought.”

“Yes, my husband. I will do that.”

8-9, 2-4 Western Michigan is in town. They score inside and their SG also can put it up. They play man, but they give up lots of points.

January 21: 74-54. They never led. A very workmanlike performance. We simply took care of business. 10 TOs. Jon had 19, Kal 12 and 7.

Kent State lost so we are alone in first. RPI is 19.

10-8, 4-3 Muncie is here. Their attack is very balanced, all five starters and two subs score. They like to work it inside and they play man, pressing fairly often. They use lots of people.

January 25: Another wire to wire win, 74-53. 14 TOs. All five starters in double figures, 8, 7, 2 for Jay Gore form the bench.

Kent State lost again. Things are really going our way right now.

14-5, 6-2 Northern Illinois leads the West division. They are the only team whose record is only one game worse than is ours. They like to play high post and work for back doors cuts and drives to the hoop. On D they play 2-3, which we have not seen much. We have been working against it in practice. We feel we can score against them since good teams have done so. They are in deep difficulty in that their starting PG tore his ACL in the game before last.

January 28: They never led but they kept it close until late, 61-49. 11 TOs. 15 and 10 for Kal, 15, 7 for Jon, 9 and 9 for Rahm. Three game lead on Kent State, two on No. Ill.

And we’re RANKED! First time for me and it feels great. #24.

On the road for three games.

At 10-10, 5-4 Central Michigan. On paper we’re better at nearly every position but…

February 1: They stayed with us for about 30 minutes. With about 10 left Rick started dishing. He was getting it to whoever was open and our guys were hitting shots. We went from a one point deficit to a 21 point lead, and then settled in to win 80-64. All five starters plus Jay Gore came up big, especially late.

At 11-11, 5-5 Toledo. Their C is a big time scorer in a quick, motion offense. They both score and give up lots of points.

February 4: As I said, they score and they give up. We got 94, they got 80. Rick dished, everyone else scored. 14 TOs. It took until midway in the second for us to get a comfortable lead but it felt like it was a matter of time all the way.

We lead the conference in scoring and rebounding, and are second in assists and blocks. We’re up two on No. Ill., in the West, and at least four on everyone else. Ranked #21, RPI #11.

We decide to withdraw our scholarship offer from Derek Wright. He is ignoring our phone calls and his stock has dropped. Offering to SG Mo Sides, #120.

At 10-12, 5-6 Bowling Green next. They feature lots of very quick ball movement, and they play a close, pressing man on defense. They are another team that gives up lots of points.

February 8: 81-59. Nine wins in a row, 12 of 13, 19 of 21. Yeah, we’re playing okay. Another team effort with solid production from our top six guys.

TOs now at 15.0 per, + 1.9.

Three of our last four are at home.

#20

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“Maria, you seem frazzled.”

“Oh!”

“What is it?”

“I am studying and it is very difficult.”

“Studying what? Your class does not begin until early June.”

“Yes, I know that, but it is statistics. I have not done anything in that field for 25 years.”

“You will be fine. A little refresher and it will come back to you.”

“Oh Achilles, this is not so. I have studied for several days now and I grow more confused as time passes.”

“Hire a tutor if you think that will help.”

“What?”

“Hire a tutor. We are at a great university. I have no doubt there are signs all over campus of people offering their services. We can certainly afford it.”

“Oh, I never thought of that.”

“It is nice that for once I have thought of something you did not!”

“And it is all right to spend money on this?”

“Maria, I am very well paid here. We are doing extremely well financially. You know that.”

“I suppose I do but I never think of it. I have too many memories of all of the years when you were coaching in high school and when you were an assistant coach.”

“And we had very little money then.”

“Very little. But we did fine. We had enough to make do.”

“Yes, because you are so good as a housekeeper. In any case this is no longer a problem. Hire a tutor.”

“I shall, Achilles. Thank you.”

10-13, 4-8 Buffalo is here. We won by 12 there. We’re playing very well right now. They are not.

February 11: Another easy win, 76-50. 10 TOs, team effort by our big six.
This one clinched first place over all.

Kent State, 12-12, 8-5, is in. They beat us by 15 there, our only conference loss. They beat us at SG and PF last time so we’ll stay on those guys.

February 15: A whole different game this time. After a close first half we jump out at the start of the second and quickly take control. 82-61. 24 for Jon. 10 TOs to their 23.

At 9-16, 5-9 Ohio. Beat them by 21 at home.

February 18: They came out hard and fast and built a 12 point lead. They were up 5 at the half. In the second we made some defensive adjustments and worked on our passing. Morr and Gore took charge and we won 90-80.

But it was work. 30, 6, 4 for Napp, 22, 6, 1 for Gore.

#15, RPI # 7.

Bracket Breaker vs. 19-8 New Mexico. They have a very good PG and play a tight man. This should be a challenge.

February 19: We control the first half, going in up 40-33. The wheels fell off in the second. NM simply got red hot from the outside and stayed that way, scoring 53 for the half and winning 86-77. The loss snapped a 12 game win streak. We will work on perimeter defense.

We’re 23-4, 14-1 going into the last regular season game, at home vs. 7-19, 6-9 Miami of Ohio. We won by 29 there. They’ve won 3 of their last 4.

February 22: The usual close first half and then we took over. 80-64 at the end. 22, 7 for Kal, 11 TOs.

TOs at 14.4. We win our division by 6, and end up 4 better than No. Ill. Now a bit of rest and then the post season. Hopes and expectations are high.




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