Head Coach Josh Pastner of Memphis took a strong stance recently by suspending a player for using inappropriate language.
According to a Yahoo! Sports report, “Pastner said he has disciplined the freshman before for his foul language and that he will not tolerate (Dominic) Woodson’s relapses with ‘his vocabulary’ when women and children are around.”
Coach Pastner added, ”When the behavior doesn’t change, I believe you now have to change the consequences and make them more severe,” Pastner said. ”So that’s where we’re at. The suspension’s indefinite, and we’ll go from there.”
Basically Pastner had a rule and that rule was violated. Simple.
I have been told by experienced coaches to have just a few rules so that you do not back yourself into a corner and force yourself to have to suspend your best player. Although most incidents regarding player conduct are not the same and each case, in my opinion, must be handled on an individual basis, it is refreshing to see a coach stick to his principles/program values.
I applaud Coach Pastner for taking a strong stance on what I could call a “program absolute”. If profanity is something that Pastner cannot tolerate then he is doing himself and his program a great service by not allowing Woodson’s actions to go unnoticed and unpunished. Pastern is making Woodson accountable for his actions which is a part of what coaching is all about.
Now I will say it is easier to make an example of a player who is averaging 2.6 points per game rather than you leading scorer, rebound or best defender. However, it does seem that Woodson was giving at least one chance to change his behavior prior to this suspension. Pastner now will have to treat other players similar if they use inappropriate language due to the precedent he has set with Woodson.
Coaches who communicate clearly regarding their on and off the court expectations and are consistent enforcing these expectations will gain a tremendous amount of respect by their coaching staff and players. In addition, players will not be surprised by the coaches response to matters that arise on a daily basis.
Although Pastner one of the youngest Division I Men’s Basketball Head Coaches at just 36 years old, he may be teaching some of his older colleagues to not waver from their “Absolutes”.
Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo