Pat Knight's Morning After

Paul McGuillicuddyAnalyst IDecember 30, 2008

The following is a fictitious account. .

It is early morning in Lubbock, Texas as Pat Knight, head basketball coach of the Texas Tech Red Raiders, makes his way to campus. It is a sun-splashed morning in south west Texas as the young coach motors along the interstate.

With his radio tuned to sports talk Knight leaves the volume low, so as to serve as a buffer that he may remain one with his thoughts. The smell of gourmet coffee wafts through the interior of the automobile.

The scene is broken by the ringing of the coach’s phone—‘Reveille.'

No need to glance at his caller ID, Knight knows all too well who is on the other end. Before reaching for the phone he uses his right hand to gently massage his temples. With the air of a convict making his last walk before being strapped in for high voltage, the coach reaches for the answer button.

Pat Knight: “Morning Dad.”

Bob Knight: (Sounding surprisingly chipper) “Patrick!!! How are you my son? How’s it hanging?

Pat: (Hesitating because he has been through this routine before and knows well what is coming.) “All things considered—I can’t complain.”

Bob: Really?

Pat: “Yeah, ya know. I got my health. Got my family. Got a good job.

Bob: “Hmmm…”

Pat: “How ‘bout you?”

Bob: “Same here—can’t complain. I didn’t think I’d like this studio job, but it’s kinda growin’ on me.”

Pat: “Good to hear.”

Bob: “Patrick—let’s cut the crap here. About that job of yours…”

Pat: (Knowing it was just a matter of time, he takes a deep breath.) “What’s up?”

Bob: “I’ll tell ya what’s up—the Stanford Cardinal and their shooting percentage.”

The younger Knight pulls off the side of the road and pulls into a spot in Denny’s parking lot.

The elder continues. “Your boys look good perched in the top five of the country when it comes to scoring. Of course 167 points against Division II East Central didn’t hurt that stat much. But what ya got to say about that this morning?”

Pat: “I was figuring to get into the office early and break down some tape.”

Bob: “Break down some tape? Let me save you some time. Repeat after me. Gentlemen, we need to get back to basics.”

After a brief period of silence.

Bob: “Pat? Are you there?”

Pat: “Yeah.”

Bob: “Are you gonna say it?”

Pat: (Obliging) “Gentlemen, we need to get back to basics.”

Bob: “Good. Good. Admitting to the problem is the first sign of a recovery. You got a bunch of pretty boys on your team.”

Pat: (Wanting to remind his father that the student-athletes were recruited during the elder Knight’s tenure as head coach at Texas Tech.) “What do ya mean?”

Bob: “Your boys ain’t much for blocking out are they?”

Pat: “We struggled a little last night.”

Bob: “Struggled? I’ll say you struggled. At one point the announcers described the Stanford kids as playing volleyball under the basket. I’d like to know how many possessions in the first half the Cardinal went away without points.”

Pat: “I’m not sure.”

Bob: (Chuckling) “Son, da Nile is a river in Africa. Not a coaching philosophy. Your kids keep playing the way they are, and I will never be able to look at your Aunt Sue’s apple turnovers with a straight face again. Man, I have never seen anything like it. Your kids had more assists last night on Stanford buckets than your own. Next holiday we are gonna sit down at the table, and when Aunt Sue brings out the dessert, you are gonna have to look your shoulder and see if Mitch Johnson is gonna intercept it. They lit you up for 18 points off turnovers in the first half.”

Pat: “Yeah—we looked a little stale.”

Bob: “Stale? What is that defense you are teaching the kids? The announcers were mentioning that you are changing defenses. Son, I have seen matadors do a better job of holding back a charging bull. That one play last night—your kid turned his back to foul line as if to say, 'Here’s the lane! Take it why don’t you?' What was the kid from Stanford to do? There was no one in the lane in help side. Your kids should be getting that in the shell drill.”

There is silence.

Bob: “Pat, you are doing the shell drill with these kids? Right?

Pat: “Huh? Oh yeah, shell drill—we do it from time to time.”

Bob: “Pat, not that I have 600 or some odd number more victories than you, but your boys need a crash course in how to play defense. And all the gimmicks with switching defenses won’t get it done.”

Pat: “Okay.”

Bob: “Which do you think is closer to the truth—the 66 points you scored last night, or the 167 points you scored against that D2 team? ‘Cause I tell you what. If your kids don’t learn soon, they might not even get a shot off against the Longhorns. Barnes’s kids might turn you over 40 times.”

Pat: “Yeah.”

Bob: “All right. I said enough. Besides, I’m meeting Digger for 18.”

Pat: “Tell Coach Phelps I said hi.”

Bob: “Will do. Keep your head up. Things will get better.”

Pat: “Yeah. Thanks. Good talking to ya dad.”