The best part of the Bruiser Flint experience at Drexel wasn't the free booze (thanks though!), nor was it the support and tickets when we supported the team on the road, or even the great wins. Bashir's buzzer beater was amazing. "You can't afford this suit" was brilliant. And getting a glimpse of how much he cared about his players will make a person believe. But for this writer, the love hate relationship with Bru was always about the basketball.
The basketball drove me crazy. Almost every part of it, beginning with the steadfast belief in one Defense, The Defense, the Man to Man, eternally begotten from the Video Tape. Those feelings continued as we saw an offense where the lack of establishing distinct roles for each player caused every guard to play the role of shooter. Damion Lee was one of the best players in all of college basketball. Tavon Allen was one of the weakest shooters of the last decade. They shot the same percentage of the teams shots when they were on the floor. That was, is, and will always be a fireable offense - in Bruiser's case it certainly contributed.
There were numerous other major clunkers, including a slow developing offense played 4 on 5 for 14 of Bru's 15 seasons (until this final season) because the player at the 4 position was restrained to mid range jumpers that they by and large weren't very good at shooting. All of that makes up the very tip of the iceberg with regards to my issues with Bruiser Flint's in game coaching.
Those of you who know me, and even those of you who just read this blog, know that I like to share these thoughts. Let it be due to ego, interest in gaining clarity, or just frustration. I, like many others, wanted to see better from the team that represents my school. Bruiser and Associate Head Coach Mike Connors knew I was critical of their overall approach. It never stopped them from talking the game with me, whether it be about the team or the conference, from players to X's and O's. Even at the worst of times this season, they took the time to speak to me about where they saw things and where I did.
In a bizarre attempt to tempt fate, I take off the Monday of the CAA tournament every season. This year, I was behind on blog work and was also well aware of what was likely to unfold at the DAC. So after dropping my girlfriend at her office near Drexel's campus, I setup camp at a coffee shop across the street from the DAC. I knew that some of the assistants had not come in to the building in the morning, but at one point, in the 10am hour, I looked up to see James Flint and Mike Connors walking across the street, dressed smartly and without any Drexel apparel. They got their beverages and chatted in a corner as I typed away. The news of their dismissal had not broken yet, but I knew that they knew, and they knew that I knew. As they left, they each shook my hand and we exchanged "Have a good one" and they were gone. It was a small gesture. A tiny thing. But right after they were dismissed, they shook the hand of one of their most vocal critics. They wished me a good day. That is class, and character, and who these gentlemen were, defined.
Bruiser was never going to be my favorite coach. He was excellent in some areas, but never looked for help in those areas where he was weak. The key offensive minded assistant coach was never hired. Bru viewed the job of Assistant Coach as a an opportunity to help feed a member of his family. He loves the members of his family. He'll certainly be a great assistant or TV man anywhere that he goes, but where he would really excel - and he'll cringe when he never reads this - is administration. Bruiser's way of delivering a message, rallying his employees and gaining trust and appreciation even from those that disagree with him are the stuff that management seminar coordinators dream of. The Drexel program right now is in a multi-decade lull in support. Bruiser Flint is not. As supporters, as Athletic Department members, and as people there is a hell of a lot that we can learn from Bruiser Flint.
In areas where Bruiser was good, he was very, very good. So lets take what we can from the best of what Coach Flint and Coach Connors had to offer. And with this fresh start, lets not leave any opportunity on the table, let it be on or off the court. It's time to catch up to the rest of the University. It's time to rally, and to do it together, with character and class.