When Brad Wilson was asked about the three opponents awaiting his North County boys basketball team this week, he leaned back in his chair and laughed.
Other coaches under similar circumstances might have cried. Or jumped out the nearest window.
"We'll approach it like any other week," Wilson said in his office after Friday morning's practice. The Knights are 0-7, with games against Meade tomorrow, Annapolis Wednesday and Severna Park Friday -- three teams with a combined 13-3 record.
The Meade game originallywas slated for Dec. 6, but a postponement and subsequent rescheduling left North County with its own version of hell week.
"We're not going to back off. We're going to let the chips fall where they may,"Wilson said.
Very little has fallen into place for North County thus far, though
it has played well in recent losses to Broadneck, 49-42, and Chesapeake, 56-49.
In between, however, was an 83-56 defeat to unbeaten Severna Park in the first round of the Bob Pascal Tournament.
"We had five days off before practicing for the tournament and that wasn't a good time for it. We were improving, and then wehad those five days off and we went backward a little bit," Wilson said.
"Against Severna Park, we didn't play at all, we didn't show up. I think we were still on Christmas break."
The next morning, Wilson called together his players for what he termed "a little heart to heart, just to remind them about different things, like keeping that winning attitude, trying to keep everything positive. Everyone's going to have to help each other stay up."
North County stayed withChesapeake for most of the tournament's consolation round, trailing by one point with less than a minute remaining before the Cougars iced the game with late free throws.
There have been other close calls, like a 74-67 loss at Glen Burnie on Dec. 11. And later that month,the Knights were within five points of Arundel midway through the fourth quarter, before five straight turnovers led to their demise, 78-59.
It wasn't the first time that sophomore-laden North County hadbeen hurt by turnovers. They committed 35 in a 74-65 season-opening defeat to South River, and 25 each in losses to Glen Burnie and Northeast, 73-49.
"It can be attributed to us being young, but I don't want to use that as an excuse," said Wilson, whose team went 4-18 last season. "We're rebounding well; we're averaging 30-some rebounds a game. It's just turnovers. We have 150-160 in seven games, and you'renot going to win if you turn the ball over.
"Once we get that problem straightened out, we'll be fine."
Wilson also needs some of his players to demonstrate more patience with their shooting and not look exclusively to sophomore Teon Carter, who ranks among the county's leading scorers at 17 points a game.
"We have guys who can put the ball in the basket. They just lack confidence right now," Wilson said. "But again, we're young. I have one senior, six juniors and six sophomores. But you go with what you have."
And keep the faith.
"We're going to get this thing turned around. I don't know when, butI don't think it's going to be too long," he said.
Severna Park coach Wayne Mook only hopes the reversal comes sometime after his teamhas played the Knights again.
"They're very young and very inexperienced," he said. "When things don't go well, it tends to snowball. But as long as the kids keep working hard on what Brad is teaching them, they'll be all right. It'll turn around sooner or later."
A victory would expand the conversation around the Wilson household, which includes wife, Molly, who coaches the winless Meade girls basketball team.
"We don't talk a whole lot about basketball when we get home," Wilson said, smiling.
What he will discuss are the 15 games left on the Knights' schedule, and the chance to do more than just salvage what some might consider a lost season.
"We're 0-7, but that record is very, very deceiving. If we take care of the ball six, seven or eight more times a game, it's a W," he said. "I still think we can play .500 ball or better. Anything can happen.
"I'm real happy with them. They haven't given up. We've got three tough ballgames andwe'll take them one at a time. I know the kids will play hard and will play to win," he said.
"If anyone thinks they're going to come in here and walk over us, they're crazy."