How this works

Last summer in my reporting for the book a coach told me a story about early Bob McKillop.

This was in the mid-‘80s, at McKillop’s summer basketball camps at Long Island Lutheran High School, and this coach -- young guy back then, recent Bucknell grad, a coach at the time at Division III University of Rochester -- loved to go to McKillop’s camps and take notes while listening to him tell the kids about the importance of little things.

Like how to wipe the outsides of your socks before you shoot free throws because that’s the driest part of the uniform.

Like how to take some time tying your shoes to give your teammates a chance to catch their breath.

Like how to take a charge: make a sound like it hurt, like you really took a hit, but when you pop back up don’t slap your hands like you’ve fooled the official -- don’t act like you got away with something.

This coach, this young coach, the one taking the notes, last summer when we were talking said he’s always remembered one of the terms McKillop would use during those camps at the school known as LuHi -- “a tuxedo player.”

“Guys that look cool,” this coach told me, “as opposed to a guy who plays hard and doesn’t care what he looks like.”

Another thing McKillop talked about that really made an impression on this young coach was the lecture with the paint-stirring sticks. I wrote about it in the book. The “he” here is McKillop.

He called a boy out of the bleachers and gave him one of the sticks.

“Break it,” he told the boy.

The boy broke it.

He gave the boy two sticks stacked together.

“Break them,” he told the boy.

The boy broke them.

Then he gave the boy five sticks stacked together.

“Break them,” he told the boy.

The boy tried. He could not.

One five, McKillop believed, even back then, is harder to break than five ones.

Anyway, last March in Detroit, that coach, Villanova’s Jay Wright, brought his notes from those camps 25 years ago and showed them to McKillop. Villanova was in Detroit, too, if you’ll recall -- lost to Kansas in the regional semis -- and Wright sought out McKillop on the practice day up there. He showed him his McKillop/LuHi file.

“He was stunned,” Wright told me last summer.

Tonight, of course, Wright’s Villanova team beat top-seeded Pitt to make it to the Final Four.

Ain’t no tuxedo players on that team of his.

1 comment:

WB said...

Kruse, you are just full of all kinds of great little nuggets like this. Keep them coming.