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
“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.”