‘Mo’ knows emotion works: He cares about the product

By Joe Bush

Sometimes Huskie men’s basketball coach Jim Molinari feels so strongly about something that the words and the emotion run into each other and stumble out.

He says he overreacts to both victories and defeats because he wants what’s best for the players who occupy his mind and his time.

“I really want them…” And then the pause because Mo’s intended words won’t do his Huskies justice. “They’ve worked so hard and I think sometimes the perception of them is that they haven’t been very successful.

“That’s the time when I overreact to victory because I’m so excited for them and I overreact to defeat because I’m so disappointed that now they’re not winning and also maybe reinforcing some stereotypes that people thought about our team.”

The rookie coach has positively overreacted more times then not so far, and indeed more times in the Dawg House, as he called the fieldhouse at Lucinda and Annie Glidden after the Huskies’ eighth home win against Loyola Jan 22.

The Huskies unsuccessful, though? Their 10-8 record has been sparked by an often undersized lineup led by a 6-4 Charles Barkley without the flab, Donnell Thomas, and a 5-10, 148 pound point guard, Donald Whiteside, who is probably thankful that basketball is played indoors and not outside in the wind.

All but two Huskies returning from last year, guard Stacy Arrington and Whiteside, are shooting better than last year. But Arrington is shooting nine percentage points better than he did his sophomore year and when Whiteside doesn’t stick three-pointers, he runs the offense, slashing and dishing. He missed the hoop most of the night against Loyola (2-7), but broke the Ramblers hearts with the winning J with under a minute left.

Unsuccessful? The Huskies need two wins in ten remaining games to better last year’s mark. That’s a credit to the smooth transition both the team has made to Molinari and Mo has made to his first season as The Man after 11 years as the Assistant Man, something that has gotten easier as the year goes by.

Molinari said when he took the job he was overwhelmed by the whole pie instead of the filling, and has since learned to take things day to day.

“A lot of anxiety is caused in life when trying to control what you can’t control,” said the man who honed his X’s and O’s under a man (Ray Meyer) so legendary even his family call him Coach and Coach’s son (Joey) who should be as great as Dad if the word hereditary means anything.

“There’s a big difference between being the decision-maker and the one sitting next to the decision-maker,” Molinari said. “I understand a lot more of what they were going through.”

The learning for Molinari isn’t so much basketball strategy but how his knowledge applies to the Huskies.

The Huskies lost to Northern Iowa when the Panthers scored at the buzzer off a Thomas free throw miss. Molinari regretted not calling a timeout to set up a last second defense so in a similar situation against Loyola he called that TO when Andrew Wells was at the line. Wells iced the game and Loyola hurried their last unsuccessful shot.

“You learn more about your team and how they respond,” said the coach who is growing with his team.