On a night when his team led by as many as 21 points in the second half and held off a strong Winthrop College rally in the closing minutes to win, 76-68, it was hard for Coppin State coach Fang Mitchell to get a message across to his young players.
"We won," said Mitchell. "But this is not how we're going to win games this season. I don't mean to put them [Winthrop] down, but this performance is not what I wanted. We have a lot of youth and they don't understand what it's going to take. If we had been on the road we would have been in trouble."
Even though Coppin won its season-opener to run its home-court winning streak to 24, Mitchell stalked up and down the sidelines yelling at his players during the game and then gave them a stern lecture in the locker room.
He was especially angry at senior point guard Larry Yarbray, whom he yanked from the game early after Yarbray missed his first four shots.
Yarbray, who was seen as the Coppin leader this season, wound up playing only 19 minutes and going scoreless. He did have five assists but committed three turnovers.
"We have to have Larry Yarbray playing better than this," said Mitchell. "He's a senior leader and it's a must that he play well."
When asked if he thought that Yarbray got the message by sitting out a lot, Mitchell said: "If he wants to blame me, then he didn't get the message."
With Yarbray on the bench all but one minute of the second half, sophomore James Mazyck and freshman Michael Johnson handled the point guard duties for Coppin.
The Eagles from Coppin (Winthrop also is known as the Eagles) built a 52-31 lead with 12:37 left and were still up, 57-37, with nine minutes remaining.
But Winthrop went on a 13-2 tear to reduce the lead to 59-50 with 5:43 left to make the final minutes interesting.
The shooting of senior forward Darren Woods enabled Coppin to hold off Winthrop down the stretch. Woods scored all 18 of his points in the second half.
Woods wound up leading the Eagles' offense, with Mazyck contributing 14, Keith Carmichael 12 and Tariq Saunders 10.
However, it was on defense that Coppin did its best work, pressing Winthrop full-court into 26 turnovers.