By Matt Noonan
Here is our second and final installment from our conversation with Anna Maria College’s men’s basketball head coach Shawn Conrad on the AMCATs’ win against Albertus Magnus, the remainder of the season, and being able to coach his son Brian Conrad.
On Defeating Albertus Magnus: “That was very gratifying (and) was as good as a win as we’ve ever had (in a while). Even talking about the two playoff wins last year, which were two memorable moments for us. (Although), I have heard some people say that the Albertus game was (the best) basketball game that they ever came to see.
“We were never in the game in the conference finals (last season), they were a very, very talented team, and we just hung in there. We were behind a lot in the first half and the early part of the second half, and we just kept hanging in, and they had pretty much had their run of the league in the last two years, so a lot of their games are (usually) over by halftime. (However), this year the gap had lessened a little bit, there were more and more games that looked like a blowout at the end, but teams competed with them for a little bit longer and we just convinced ourselves that if we did what we set out to do and really do simple things, such as defend the half court and work inside-outside, then stick within the system, and stay within the things that have come to define us as a team in the second semester and let’s see if we can get to the last five minutes and have a chance and we did.
“With five minutes to go, I think we were tied and we made some plays and the kids were extremely, extremely happy and proud, and they should have been. They certainly made us very proud.”
On The Remaining Slate: “When we were having our little talks on that day we had three sessions (following our loss to Fitchburg State), I made a vow to them and said, ‘Look, you guys have cared way too much about the end of the season, and have forgotten to take care of the process to get to the end, and I will make a vow to you right now and promise you I will not look at the standings for the rest of the year, I don’t care where we are or anybody else is because all I care about is how we do today, and how we play in the next game.’
“We printed out a little passage that’s called, ‘One Possession,’ which talks about how kids make mistakes during the course of the game and go through a whole slew of things, and then they end up losing by one, so (I think they realize) what coach talks about and why every possession counts. We handed (out this particular passage) to them and I just said, ‘I don’t care what happens 30 minutes from now, I don’t care what happens 30 seconds from now, I care about this possession on defense,’ and I think that’s another thing we did (earlier this season, which was) we looked ahead and the players kind of drank the ‘Kool-Aid of the preseason rankings’ and I think they got enthralled with where we were going to be in February instead of what we were going to do in January and November, so every team on our schedule for the next six games can beat us. I do know that we can beat all six teams on our schedule, too. How’s (the remaining games) going to play out? I don’t know, but if we take it one possession at a time and one game at a time, then I (will) feel a heck of a lot better than looking ahead (and guessing outcomes).
On Coaching His Son Brian: “I treasure every moment that we’re together in this setting because it’s a whole different setting than being a father at home, and I am sure his eyes have been totally open to a side that he would have never imagined by knowing me and going home or coming to practices as a kid or coming to games. The day to day and what we share in the locker rooms and the fact that he can be apart of this is one of the most special things that I think I’ll ever have in my life. He doesn’t know how much I just love having (on the team).
“When it’s all said and done, (though, he and I) will have that other bond that my other kids weren’t able to share because they didn’t play for me at this level, while he gets to see what goes on every single day and the time and the effort and highs and lows and emotions. We’ve grown up as a family, we’re a very tight family, but when you’re playing on a team it’s another family, so he’s (become) part of two of my families, part of my real family and that athletic team basketball family, which is very special in its own way, and to have him be part of it, witness it and he’s been here during some pretty good times, some pretty good years, but it’s the most wonderful thing in the world.”