Knight’s rant welcomed by his players?

When Lamar University basketball coach Pat Knight ranted against

his players after a Wednesday night loss — for everything

from their on-court effort to their employment prospects — he

breached a taboo in the fraternity.

He also may have scored an upset public-relations hit.

After his team’s 62-52 loss to Stephen F. Austin, Knight said

Lamar has “an infestation of guys that are hard to coach” and the

“worst group of seniors that I’ve ever been associated with.”

He added that if his players “act this way in the real world,

you’re gonna be homeless without a job.”

In a Friday afternoon telephone interview with The Wall Street

Journal, Knight said he had received about 30 texts and phone calls

from supportive coaches.

“One told me he loved me for doing it,” said Knight, son of

outspoken former Indiana coach Bob Knight. “They’re proud of me,

because we’re all dealing with the same thing.”

The transgressions Knight referred to ranged from tardiness to

academic failures.

“I’ve never seen more F’s on report cards than I ever have since

I got here,” Knight said Friday. “Missing classes, being late for

workouts, missing workouts. … What I don’t think they understand

is all that correlates together. If you’re not going to be a winner

off the court, you’re not going to be a winner on the court.”

The Cardinals had one of their best practices of the season the

day after his rant, Knight said, and three parents called him to

say they would love to have their kids play for him. A few of his

players even apologized to him Thursday, he said.

Public tough love is rare in college basketball, perhaps because

coaches fear that it will hurt recruiting or stall their climb up

the career ladder. Knight said he does not want the kind of players

that would be deterred by discipline anyway, and does not care to

move up to a higher echelon.

His first head-coaching job was at Texas Tech, a position he

inherited when his father retired from it in February 2008. Pat

Knight was fired in March 2011.

“I didn’t deserve it,” he said. “But it ended up being a great

lesson for me.”

Knight said that after Wednesday’s loss, he prepared his staff

and athletic director for the harsh message he had planned.

“If you look at my press conference, I didn’t raise my voice,”

he said. He was surprised his rant drew so much attention, but said

the reaction was more positive than he anticipated.

“I’m just trying to motivate the team,” he said, “especially

these six seniors.”

Knight declined to say which coaches had contacted him out of

support. The elder Knight approved, he said, even though, “My dad

tells me I need to go to ‘Shut-Up School’ sometimes.”