Written by Joe Kleinsasser Monday, 26 February 2007 18:00Losing isn't fun. I don't know anyone who enjoys it. But losing is probably even less enjoyable to coaches unaccustomed to losing.
In Hillsboro, Tabor College men's basketball coach Don Brubacher and Hillsboro High School boys' basketball coach Darrel Knoll know a lot more about winning than losing, and their teams won a fair number of games this season.
But they also experienced the sour taste of losing more often than they're used to. It's not often that the Tabor men finish with a .500 record in the KCAC. And it's not often that the HHS boys are around .500.
Granted, I can't completely identify with Brubacher and Knoll, because I never had a tough season as a basketball coach. In fact, you may not realize that I am one of the winningest coaches in HHS history based on winning percentage.
Of course, I only coached the JV boys at HHS one season. We only lost three games. More than anything, I was living proof that if you give someone as inexperienced as I was enough talent, even I can come out on the winning side more often than not.
Nevertheless, I want to encourage Brubacher and Knoll to hang in there while reminding fans that our local coaches aren't the only winners who've suffered a few losses this year.
In fact, there are a number of high-profile coaches nationally who have taken a few lumps this season. Duke's Mike Krzyzewski's Blue Devils had a rare four-game losing streak, and a losing record in ACC play in mid-February.
And don't forget Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun. His team lost six of eight games in one stretch, had a losing Big East record and, as of this writing, had not beaten an RPI top-50 opponent all season.
Another coach who has experienced some ups and downs is Bob Knight. Texas Tech's five-game losing streak was his longest since 1972, his first year at Indiana. Somehow though, I don't get the feeling that many people are feeling too sorry for The General.
Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim hasn't had a lot of fun this year either. His Syracuse team lost four of six recently, none to top-50 opponents, to slide into dangerous bubble territory.
Then there's Michigan State coach Tom Izzo. Losing four straight was bad enough. Scoring 38 points in a loss at Purdue is worse. Scoring 12 in one half might have been rock-bottom.
One thing all of these coaches have in common, including Brubacher and Knoll, is that they've won more than their share of games and championships. It just goes to show that if you coach long enough, there will be times when losses happen.
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Basketball games can be a thing of beauty, or not. A low-scoring game doesn't have to be bad basketball, but the less the ball goes in the basket the harder it is to watch and to officiate.
Imagine how hard it would have been to watch a game played in 1925 between Kensal High and Pingree High, two Fargo, N.D., girls' high school teams.
In the book "Amazing But True Sports Stories" I read the two teams played to a scoreless tie at the end of regulation.
After three overtime periods, the teams were still tied at 0-0. It was determined that the best solution to keep the girls from taking the court again and decide the contest was by flipping a coin.
While the referee flipped a quarter, Kensal's weary coach correctly called heads and Pingree wound up a 0-0 loser.
It's the only time I know of where the leading scorer in a game didn't score.