GUEST BASKETBALL COACH:
A SOCIOLOGIST'S VIEW FROM THE BENCH

Guest basketball coach Debra Wetcher-Hendricks added a sociologist's perspective regarding the relationship between enthusiasm and winning. Photo: Ed Flaherty '12

Moravian's basketball guest coaching program gives participants a chance to go behind the scenes to experience the inner workings of the men's and women's teams. Guest coaches attend practice and coaches' meetings, listen in on pre-game and half-time pep talks, and join the teams on the bench for game night. But participants say the best thing about the program is getting to know students outside the classroom, where they display dedication, perseverance, and camaraderie. A couple of guest coach openings are still available for the men's team this season. (Contact Jim Walker at mejrw01@moravian.edu if you're interested.)

Last week, associate sociology professor and department chair Deb Wetcher-Hendricks, served as guest coach for the men's game against the University of Scranton, held December 6. Here's her take on the experience.

November 24

I signed up for the Scranton game on December 6. I've served as a faculty coach twice before, so I pretty much know what to expect. At practice, I will stand on the sidelines and try not to get in the way. On game night, I will sit with the team; I'll stand when they stand and clap when they clap. And I'll try to say something motivating when Coach Walker asks me to. I don't think this qualifies as real coaching, but I still plan to take credit if the team wins.

 
In the second half of their December 6 game, the Hounds resumed their winning ways, ultimately defeating the University of Scranton 78-71. Photo: Ed Flaherty '12

December 5

At practice, I joined the team to watch a video of Scranton's team in recent games. Terms like "press," "switch," and "palm" are becoming familiar to me. Coach Walker says the guys need to work on improving their enthusiasm. But, given that they've lost the last few games, who can blame them? I'd be frustrated too.

Coach Walker asked me to apply some sociological thought to the team's performance and behavior. I explained the relationship between enthusiasm and winning in terms of "causal time order." The term refers to a situation in which a person accepts and begins to behave according to the public's perceptions of his or her behavior. An athletic team that has no faith in itself plays poorly and a team with confidence plays well. We'll see if it works when they play tomorrow.

December 6

WE WON! The Scranton players gave our guys a tough time during the first half. But with the (real) coaches' wise guidance and the players' hard work, our team pulled within 2 points by half-time. The second half seemed like an entirely different game. Our team surged ahead in score, ultimately winning the game 78-71, exhibiting confidence, enthusiasm, and what seemed to be a whole new attitude. I hope they can maintain it for the rest of the season.

Once again, I am utterly impressed—not only with the team's winning display of athleticism and strategy, but with their dedication to each other. I witnessed many instances of players and coaches offering praise, comfort, and camaraderie to each other both on and off the court. This quality truly makes them a team.