“It is an attitude problem. When seniors don’t play like seniors you’re going to get beat. And we didn’t have one senior show up.”
That was just one line from Lamar head coach Pat Knight’s post-game speech following the Cardinals’ 65-52 loss to Stephen F. Austin back on February 22nd. At that point in the season Lamar was 16-11 with an 8-5 record in conference play, and their season was on the brink of collapsing.
While more than a few people disagreed with the move, arguing that such issues should be kept in house, others applauded the move and found it refreshing that a coach would air his grievances with his team in public.
Well, the end result has proven to be a highly profitable one for Knight and the Cardinals, who wrapped up their first NCAA tournament bid since 2000 with an impressive 70-49 win over McNeese State in the Southland Conference tournament final.
Mike James, who was the player dismissed from the post-game press conference on that day, led Lamar with 26 points and three assists, and Devon Lamb added 12. Just as important on the defensive end of the floor was forward Osas Ebomwonyi, who in addition to scoring nine points blocked six shots.
Lamar’s top four scorers are all seniors, which includes both James and Lamb, and something that could have been taken out of Knight’s post-game speech was the fact that they’d yet to take ownership of the team…and of themselves as individuals.
“They don’t need to be coddled. They don’t need to be babysat,” said Knight on that day. “That’ s the problem with society these days…because people don’t make kids accountable.”
Since February 22nd the Cardinals have won six straight games, with all six wins being by ten points or more. Stephen F. Austin shot 54% from the field and Lamar 29%; since that game Lamar has allowed just one opponent to shoot better than 42%, and the Cardinals 42% or better in each game.
On February 22nd a message was sent by Pat Knight. And regardless of anyone’s thoughts in regards to the method, there’s no arguing whether or not it was received.