Despite blowout victory, Hillsman sends message to SU’s starting five

first_img Published on November 29, 2010 at 12:00 pm Comments Even with his team up by 21 early in the second half, Syracuse head coach Quentin Hillsman was unhappy. He said he had just talked to his players about their hustle at halftime. But they apparently didn’t get the message coming out of the break. After two consecutive offensive rebounds by New Hampshire on its third possession of the half, Hillsman snapped. He unloaded the bench. Out came starters Elashier Hall and Iasia Hemingway. Out came senior guards Erica Morrow and Tasha Harris. And out came the Orange’s leading scorer in Kayla Alexander. Despite SU’s 87-46 demolition of New Hampshire in a game that was all but over by halftime, Hillsman did not take his foot off the brakes with regards to his coaching. He wanted more hustle out of his team, and when the first team did not give it to him, the coach didn’t hesitate to yank them off the court. He sent a message to his team that lack of hustle would not be tolerated, no matter the situation. ‘(The score) doesn’t matter to me,’ he said when asked if the big lead affected his decision to pull the starters. ‘We can’t get outhustled, and we can’t let people get 50-50 (balls).’AdvertisementThis is placeholder text All five of the Orange first-teamers have been with Hillsman since last season. They have come to understand that a mistake on the court leads to a brief benching. Harris said it has been consistent throughout her four years at SU. Morrow said the group didn’t need Hillsman to say anything as they came to the bench. They already understood. ‘He didn’t say anything,’ Morrow said. ‘It was more of, we already knew.’ But just in case they didn’t quite understand, Hillsman got his point across. As the second team executed the ensuing inbounds pass, the coach crouched down, turned to his bench and said, ‘Seriously, y’all, that is a joke,’ before turning back to watch the action. The mass substitution took place with 17:20 left in the game. The starters sat on the bench and watched while the subs kept the big lead for the next two minutes. It was a brief reprimand for the first team, but they appeared to get the message. ‘It’s one thing you don’t want, to sit on the bench,’ Harris said. ‘You know what you’re supposed to do. I just tell myself I just have to play hard to get to the assignments. It’s go as hard as you can go.’ After returning to the game, Hemingway was fouled and got to the free-throw line. She made the first free throw, but her second shot went in and out. Hall chased down the rebound in the corner, falling out of bounds to keep it in play. The Orange gained possession and worked the ball to Alexander in the post. She missed from close range, but Hall came flying back into the play to clean up the glass and score the bucket for SU. Four of the starters returned to the bench by the end of the game, but for a different reason. Syracuse ran away to a 41-point victory, its third win by 40 or more points this year, and Hillsman got his bench players some extra playing time in the closing minutes. But even with the big margin, his players know that a mistake on the court equals a trip to the bench. ‘He makes a conscious effort of if you made a mistake, letting you know you made a mistake, sit you down and figure it out,’ Harris said. For Hillsman, one of those mistakes he does not tolerate is the one his starters committed early in the second half. The Orange did not hustle to a loose ball. And although the game was already well in hand, Hillsman wasn’t going to let it go unaddressed. ‘That’s just a hustle play,’ he said. ‘And our kids really compete, and our kids really play hard so that’s uncharacteristic for a team to get that many team rebounds against us.’ zjbrown@syr.educenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img