Was a coach out of line? I don’t think so.

Published 3:32 pm Saturday, February 28, 2009

I don’t know how many of you read The Montgomery Advertiser, but it was brought to my attention that Wednesday’s edition featured an interesting column by sports editor Brad Zimanek.

In it, Zimanek gives his criticism about the Fort Dale – Taylor Road girls’ Final Four matchup, and what he saw as two coaching mistakes by FDA’s William Johnson.

I was there. I saw one of the events, and I didn’t think anything about it.

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First of all, Zimanek talks about Lori Fail’s free throw struggles in the first half.

According to him, Johnson mouthed that “we have to have these” free throws after she had missed two.

Zimanek contends that Fail’s confidence was shot after she missed her next free throw, and the outcome would have been different had she gotten some positive reinforcement from the bench.

While I can’t comment on that because I didn’t notice it, I will tell you what I did see.

What Zimanek obviously missed (or at least neglected to mention) is what happened at halftime.

The Eagles came out of the locker room, and while the rest of the team was warming up by shooting around, Johnson was standing right beside Fail on the free throw line, helping her.

He was giving her pointers, and she hit a couple before the second half started.

That sure sounds like bad coaching and negativity to me.

The other incident is what happened right before halftime.

With the first half almost over, Taylor Road’s Lay Watts was driving down the court for a chance at a buzzer-beating shot.

She was well outside the three-point line with less than two seconds to go when Murphy Middleton fouled her on a shot that had no chance to go in.

Watts hit two of the three free throws to break the tie and give TRA a lead at the half.

Was it a stupid mistake? Yes. Did Johnson react and let Murphy know that it was the wrong move? Yes.

Did he overreact? I really don’t think so.

There were some shouts of displeasure as the free throws went in, but it’s not like Johnson grabbed anyone by the collar as they were walking off the court and started yelling in faces.

He reacted with passion after a smart player acted without thinking.

I’ve been on enough sidelines to know that coaching is not all sunshine and unicorn giggles.

From watching games and practices, I’ve seen the way Johnson deals with his team.

He’s firm when he needs to be, but keeps in mind that he’s coaching a group of high school girls, and he knows when the mood needs lifting with a light-hearted comment.

It seems that his players respect him and have a good relationship with him.

I think Zimanek needs to pay a little more attention and have a little more background before passing judgment.