Eye of the Hurricane

April 4, 2011

Player reaction to Haith departure…

Filed under: sports, college,UM sports — ProfK @ 10:28 pm
Tags: ,

Camped out for two hours outside Coach Haith’s office (with my sweet 11-yr-old daugther in tow..not exactly the fun off-day I had promised her)..here’s what I found out…

Haith met with his players from 3 to 4 p.m. in his office, and then met with his staff. Haith emerged from the player meeting red-eyed and in a somber mood, and several players said it was a very emotional meeting.

Asked if he could comment, Haith shook his head. “Can’t comment yet, tough day,” he said. He was scheduled to fly to Missouri Monday night on a private plane for the official announcement Tuesday morning, and return to Miami on Tuesday afternoon.

Junior center Julian Gamble led a team meeting after Haith left the room. He urged his teammates to stick together, and hang on to their goals for next season. Some players took the news harder than others.

“It’s really hard,” Gamble said. “It’s like losing a family member. Coach Haith has to do what’s best for him and his family, and you realize that basketball is a business. I wish him well and I’m going to be a Missouri fan as long as Coach Haith is there.

“I’m still in shock. I found out late last night. With social networking, it’s hard to keep anything a secret anymore. We all started calling each other when the news broke. We couldn’t believe it. None of us saw it coming. All we can do is stick together and stay focused and not let this distract us.”

Junior guard Malcolm Grant said: “I wish him all the success, but it’s really tough because he’s the reason I came here. Next year is my last year, and I wanted to have a great year for him. Now, I don’t even know who my coach is going to be. When Coach Haith walked out that door just now, it hit me, he’s not our coach anymore. That’s really hard to accept.

 “It was a very emotional meeting. You could tell it was really tough on Coach, he was very sincere, and he teared up a little bit. As a player, you start to look back and think, `I wish we could’ve won more games, because maybe then Coach would have stayed with us. If we would have got the job done, maybe he’d still be our coach.

“When I first got a call late last night, I thought it was an April Fool’s joke. But then I typed his name online and the news was everywhere. I know he wanted to be the first to tell us face to face, but with social networking, the news got out.”

Grant said he is committed to staying at UM, and figured most players would be, but he said all will depend on who gets hired.

“There’s definitely going to be an adjustment period, but our goals don’t change,” Grant said. “We have to use this as motivation. I’m definitely staying, and hope the younger guys do, too.”

Freshman Rion Brown is one of those younger guys. He said he was stunned by the news.

“One day Coach is texting us about our workouts, and the next he’s gone,” Brown said. “I hope he does great there, but I had a relationship with him, and he’s the reason I came here, so this hurts for sure. The meeting was emotional, and after we talked about sticking together. I just want to play college basketball, and hopefully, they’ll bring in another good coach. Everything happens for a reason. Maybe this is a blessing in disguise, but for now, it just hurts.”

1 Comment »

  1. I’m glad that the players reacted as a single unit. I don’t imagine any of them ditching UM because of the coaching change, and it seems that they are as loyal to each other and to their school as they were to their coach.

    I feel bad for the players who need to realize, much like a child may when their parents fight or separate, that it is not their fault. When Grant states, “I wish we could’ve won more games, because maybe then Coach would have stayed with us,” the sentiment is tragic.

    Hope they recover as one and bounce back strongly, regardless of who the next coach is.

    Comment by eadeutsch — April 4, 2011 @ 10:47 pm | Reply

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