Down on playing angry

What message are we sending to our youth?

Call it a cliche, but the fact of the matter there’s something wrong going on in men’s college basketball. More specifically with the Wichita State Shockers. And just like wildfire – or better yet like today’s social media, their theme could have a trickle down effect to today’s youth coaches trying to find an edge against an opposing team.

During some channel surfing last Saturday, I noticed Wichita State playing host to Tennessee at Intrust Bank Arena in Wichita, Kan. When the flow of the game switched to Wichita State’s side of halfcourt, along the baseline read two words, “Play Angry.”

Immediately, my wife and I turned to each other and our jaws dropped. She is a third grade elementary teacher, and the first thing that crossed my mind were the days of learning the game in a program back home called Biddy Basketball which was sponsored through the YMCA.

My wife and I were on the same page as soon as we verified what was written on the court underneath the one basket. Some elementary basketball player will get it in his head that playing angry is a good thing.

And it probably won’t stop there. Imagine high school basketball teams and AAU squads picking up on this idea that anger on the court is justified.

Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall explained to reporters during the Shockers’ Final Four run last season that the playing angry motto was the reason for the team’s stellar improvement. Maybe had he used the word ‘intensity’ I probably wouldn’t have thought twice.

My gripe extends far beyond the basketball team. Earlier this month, the City of Wichita renamed Waterman Street “Play Angry Place” at a location just outside Intrust Bank Arena. Present for the ceremony were the facility’s general manager, the county commissioner and the City of Wichita’s Vice Mayor.

Don’t they have sons and daughters involved in athletics? And what is their reaction to playing angry?

My belief is that anger only leads to a negative connotation. Intensity is a more proactive approach and keeps sportsmanship in play.

Take former Indiana coach Bobby Knight and his pupil – Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski. How many actually enjoyed their time as a Hoosier with Knight constantly berating his players.

Then there’s Krzyzewski. I don’t consider his approach along the sidelines as disruptive to the program. Rather, his intensity brings out the best in his players and in turn, I’m sure they respect him as a coach and person.

Closer to home, I’ve covered multiple games for the Williamstown girls program and coach Fred Sauro-including last week’s semifinal round of the Fenton Shootout. He demands 110 percent from each of his players, but at the same time he’s a teacher of the game while orchestrating his instructions along the sideline.

If anger was involved, I don’t think you would see players interacting with the coach before leaving the gym following a game.

Wichita State has its method, but hopefully it doesn’t become a fad.

Contact Kerry Patrick at