Cal State San Bernardino coach Jeff Oliver seems to know what buttons to push with his players. That was more than evident this week when the Coyotes were at a crossroads of sorts.
The team was picked to win the CCAA and was nationally ranked at one point but had done little to live up to that billing. Even more frustrating has been its tendency to play well against the better teams but totally tank against mediocre ones. They started the weekend 9-7.
After last Friday’s game, a loss to San Francisco State, Oliver blasted 6-7 junior Brandon Brown in the media. Calling him a “terrible defensive player.” He benched Brown and two others for Saturday’s game which the Coyotes ended up winning.
Then on Tuesday another publication printed a story on Brown which was focused on his failure to live up to his billing. Brown was not happy, even marching into Oliver’s office to ask why he trashed him to the media.
Oliver calmly asked him what part of the article or statements attributed to him did he not agree with. The two talked things out and went back to practice.
Then on Friday Brown delivered perhaps his best game when it counted most. He scored 16, grabbed 13 rebounds and blocked two shots as the Coyotes trounced a talented Dominguez Hills squad that was ranked No. 2 in the West Region and came in leading the CCAA.
The incident definitely seemed to light a fire under him. While such criticism would not be appropriate of a high school player, it isn’t out of line when dealing with college-age athletes who are adults.
Brown was more conciliatory in a post-game interview and just chuckled when asked about the verbal beatdown he received a week earlier.
Oliver also tried to keep Brown motivated by starting Jordan Richard, a freshman out of Los Osos. Brown came off the bench about six minutes into the first half.
Tonight the Coyotes host Cal State L.A., another one of those mediocre teams they should handle.
Hopefully the Coyotes have learned and bring their “A” game. Because Friday’s performance was fun to watch.