Coale meets defensive challenge Key guard excels at intimidation

January 21, 1993|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,Contributing Writer

On defense, Francis Scott Key guard/forward Paul Coale never rests.

Coale is a tireless worker who always guards the opponent's top scorer. Coale views shutting down the player as a challenge and a vital part of the Francis Scott Key basketball team.

"He's accepted that role," said Francis Scott Key coach Jeff Cook. "He's done a great job."

The 6-foot-1 senior said being aware of what's happening on defense helps stop someone on offense. Coale said simple mistakes often result in baskets.

Coale said players lose their man, don't call out switches and don't help out, among other things. He said players need to concentrate on defense.

"You always [have to] think," said Coale. "People have lapses in basketball. You always have to talk."

Coale uses a couple of different methods to stop other players.

The first method is psychological. He'll first throw an elbow into someone's gut early in the game to "get them thinking about that." Coale said some players do think about that and start losing focus.

If that works, Coale keeps going. He'll step on a foot, here and there. He then starts talking to throw opponents off their game.

The second method is more physical and is used more often. Coale said he just "plays real defense." Coale will keep his head right over the ball and depend on his quickness to shut down his man.

Coale does not often go after steals. He said they are a 50-50 proposition, too risky.

Coale will set goals for himself entering a game. If a player has a 30-point average, for example, Coale may try to limit him to 15 points.

Teammate John Engel tries to score against Coale every day in practice. He doesn't like it and doubts opponents enjoy trying, either.

"He's irreplaceable," said Engel, a tri-captain with Coale and Scott Kreit. "It's very hard to score on Paul Coale. It's close to impossible."

Cook said quickness and strength cause that. Coale will play physical but is quick and can stay with an opponent who moves fast.

"His aggressiveness and quickness are good assets," said Cook. "He's just a very competitive person."

Engel said that may be a large understatement. Coale, a sweeper, was a vital part of the Key soccer team that made the Class 1A regional finals last fall.

The last time he ran track, two years ago, he was part of three relay teams that scored (second, second and third) in the state track and field championships.

To make himself better, Coale lifts weights before and during school. He watches what he eats. He always looks to improve.

Quite simply, he does not like to lose at anything.

"Paul would lay his life on the line to win a basketball game, to win any game," said Engel. "This guy hates to lose. He usually gives 190 percent."

Coale leads the Eagles in minutes played, and Cook said he has played nearly every minute this season. Other than that, fouls are the only statistic Coale (8.6 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game) leads Key in.

Coale does, however, certainly lead Key on defense. That is an area players on any team don't often concentrate on because of the lack of notice it brings.

"A lot of people overlook it," said Coale. "You don't get your name in the paper, and that's what people want."

What Coale wants is just to stop his man from scoring so Key can score victories.

"I kind of like it," said Coale. "It's a challenge. That's the only reason I play basketball, for that challenge."

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