I sit down to write this week’s entry with so many thoughts abound in my mind. First, I am grateful for the wonderful effort our kids gave on the road at Queens College to capture our first win of the season, and gain me my first victory as a head coach in men’s collegiate basketball. Unfortunately, we followed up such a great showing with a sub-par road contest against the University of New Haven in Connecticut and lost by 20 points.

We stand 1-1 in the East Coast Conference, and 1-4 overall, as we get set to host two games at home this week. Long overdue, playing at home this week will allow our players to attend their regular class schedule and maintain a normal routine without the rigors of travel.
As I put finger to keyboard (technological age reference), my mind is searching for the answer to why teams fail to maintain excellence. In jest, it has become a running joke in our huddles, that if I were to develop a magic pill that could inspire confidence and consistency in players, I would immediately retire from coaching and lie on a beach somewhere much warmer! Why do a majority of teams fail in their quest to achieve greatness? I would like to believe coaches on losing teams work just as hard as those of winning teams. I do know it has to be harder to maintain excellence than it is to achieve it (just ask Joe Torre). I learned several years ago when I first started coaching, that is becomes very easy to be complacent and become average.

As the weekend quickly turned into Monday, I arose early to meet with some old friends in New York City. These friends, clad in their purple and silver, are the men’s basketball coaches of the Kansas State Wildcats of the Big XII Conference. I had befriended many of the staff members several years ago when they were part of Coach Bob Huggins’ staff at the University of Cincinnati.

I had the opportunity to sit in on the team breakfast as they watched film of the University of Notre Dame, their upcoming opponent in the Jimmy V Classic held at Madison Square Garden. I was able to tag along to their practice site and watched NBA hopefuls Michael Beasley and Bill Walker workout with teammates under the direction of first-year Head Coach Frank Martin. Coach Martin brings with him so much energy and passion to his first collegiate head coaching post. Coach Martin has learned from so many top coaches in the business and should continue to bring K-State back into national prominence. I will actually attend the games this evening following completion of this diary entry. I am excited to watch both games. The second game will feature the University of Southern California and the University of Memphis, a match-up between future NBA lottery picks OJ Mayo and Chris Douglas-Roberts. Both games should produce highlight footage to be used for many months to come!

Well, until next week. Remember, only 20 shopping days left!

Yours in Hoops,

Tony Staffiere