Motivation The Key For UA Hoops

FAYETTEVILLE -- Motivation. Lots of ways to do it. There is no for sure right way, but there can be wrong ways.

How do you know the difference between the two? The right way is the one that worked. The wrong way is the one which didn't.

I know, that qualifies me for absolutely nothing. Doesn't take a scientific rocket (that's a Danny Ford phrase) to figure that one out.

I offer this as a preface to a discussion on what ails the Arkansas basketball program.

Some have argued on Internet message boards and talk radio that Stan Heath needs only to walk a few feet down his hallway at Bud Walton Arena for a visit with John McDonnell.

Or, he might jump in his SUV for a trip to Baum Stadium to find Dave Van Horn.

I've heard it mentioned by Heath that some of his current players need to visit a sports psychologist. Perhaps he's right. Some of them appear to be frozen in time as they try to solve a zone defense. Maybe they have been overcome by paralysis from analysis, the dreaded sports disease.

That goes back to the earlier theory that Heath might need to visit with one of his co-workers on the Hill. The best coaches are sports psychologists. You must know how to push the right buttons with all sorts of athletes. You have to be able to motivate.

That's not to say McDonnell or Van Horn are the only ones who know how to motivate. It appears that Frank Broyles, the athletic director, is doing his best to motivate his basketball coach. Asking him to fill out homework, outlining his plans for getting the cage program on solid footing, amounts to motivation in my eyes.

Is that the right way to do it? Some might argue that it is not.

Is Coach Broyles trying to help Heath? Or, is he trying to lay the paper trail for a change in command? I've heard it both ways, but I believe he's trying to help right now. He wants to jump-start the Heath era, not end it. I've heard what Coach Broyles really wants is for Heath to hire a veteran assistant who can help with his offense and deal with the fragile mentality of this team.

So far, there is no evidence that Broyles wants an immediate change at the top. The rumors are that he's ready to pull the trigger. That has been his style. I don't believe it this time. I think he still wants this coach to make it.

Despite rumblings that Broyles wants a change, I have been told the opposite. I think it's a case of people knowing the Broyles way and figuring he must be about to make a change. Yes, he's disappointed, but I think Broyles is trying to help this time.

Would it be correct to make a change after only three years? No. Heath has not had enough time to assemble all of the right parts, and that goes for assistant coaches as well as players.

But is that the problem?

Or is it motivation?

I saw a team falling short on energy and emotion at season's end. Heath said after some of the games that he was to blame for not preparing them better. It's hard to argue against his words.

I want Stan Heath to make it. He's a good guy and has said the things we want to hear most of the time. His players do not get in trouble. The only thing I can recall in three years is a player or two missing a game or a start for missing class. He got that corrected quickly and Heath beat all of the men's programs except tennis in academic performance in the just released NCAA report.

Motivation is done in many ways. McDonnell and Van Horn both do it a little different. However, in some ways those two are the same. They do it by instilling fear and respect. They are taskmasters. And, they do it by demanding accountability.

McDonnell also points to the past tradition of Razorback track. He told runner James Hatch just days before his huge turnaround at last weekend's NCAA meet, just do what I say and trust me and you'll be fine. Hatch, so often guilty of tactical mistakes, did finally listen to McDonnell and stunned everyone with a second place in the 800 meters to key the UA title.

No doubt, Heath has been telling his cagers to just trust him. He's right, of course. But it doesn't appear that he's gotten them to believe just yet. He may yet find the right button to get his players motivated and on fire.

I'm worried, but I'm in a wait-and-see mode. I will wait to see if Stan Heath will let Coach Broyles help him.

If he doesn't?

I don't want to go there just yet.


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