Most summer league basketball games at The Rock League follow the same script once the games end. The losing coach pulls his players into a High Point High School hallway or an area just outside the school and meticulously and passionately details all their flaws.
The winning coach does the same.
At this time of year, coaches tear their teams down — ensuring the players have no laurels to rest on — with the intent of building them up later. Complimented players can become content, so many coaches dole out praise only judiciously or not at all, opting to dwell on the negative and manipulating their team's arc so the positive comes closer to the season.
But after Duval's 57-45 win Monday against an Arundel team that pushed private school power DeMatha to the limit last week, DuVal summer league coach Lafayette Dublin provided just a few congratulatory words and dismissed his team.
Dublin didn't need to give the doom-and-gloom speech. He had just done it two days prior.
DuVal, already winless in four games on Saturday, was trailing by 20 points in its final game of the Temple University team camp.
“I told them, 'We can leave right now,'” Dublin said. “'We ain't got to play this last game. We're down 20 in the second half. We can leave.'
“I told them, 'We ain't going back home with an L. If we lose this game, you won't eat. We're going to come back, and y'all got to figure it out.”
His team responded, rallying for a one-point win. DuVal carried that momentum into Monday, when a balanced team effort produced a victory against Arundel.
“I told my kids, 'Make your name off somebody else,'” Dublin said. “Arundel has a name. We're still trying to find ours.”
DuVal's identity, for now, revolves around rising senior guards Paris Jones and Charles Ekeanyanwu. Jones primarily plays the point, but both are capable of bringing the ball up court. Dublin hopes to integrate rising sophomore Edward Polite into that core group.
Unlike Jones and Ekeanyanwu, who came in and out of Monday's game to get breathers, Polite played nearly the entire game. Dublin said Jones and Ekeanyanwu already have the stamina to play big minutes, but that's an area where Polite still needs to develop.
By playing Polite so much Monday, not only did Dublin help a budding player grow, he sent a clear message to his team.
“We have unfinished business,” Dublin said. “It's a start.”