Liberty girls basketball something to shout about Lions respond well to roar of Tom Delise

February 05, 1993|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,Contributing Writer

The voice of Tom Delise carries.

Those at Liberty girls basketball games can hear it. Easily. From almost anywhere in the gymnasium.

L "I know I'm loud," said Delise. "I'm an intense individual."

Delise, in his third season as the Liberty girls basketball coach, has gotten notice for how loud he yells during a game -- and how well he coaches.

Delise took over at Liberty at the start of the 1990-91 season. After the Lions had won only three games the previous season, Delise's Lions were a surprise, going 15-9 and advancing to the regional semifinals.

The Lions were 8-14 last season and 6-7 in their first 13 games this season. Each year, the Lions have had a different team and forced Delise to coach a different way.

The common thread is that Delise pushes his players hard.

When Delise pushes, he yells, and sometimes louder than others. In a recent Central Maryland Conference game against Linganore, Delise called a timeout only 47 seconds into the game and exhorted his team to jump for rebounds. It was easy to hear.

Liberty players say they understand Delise's yelling is just his wayof communicating.

"Once [I] got used to him, he is the best coach I've ever had," said Katie Kelbaugh, a senior in her third season on the varsity. "He really makes you prepare on and off the court."

Amy Wolff, the team's leading scorer, also credits Delise with greatly helping her game, especially earlier in her high school career.

"He's helped a lot," said Wolff.

"He put a lot of pressure on me [during] my sophomore year, but I got ready really quickly."

Delise said his intensity makes him yell on the court. Off the court, he's a different person.

He is quiet, almost soft-spoken at times, with a good sense of humor often pointed at himself. Sports -- specifically basketball -- do not dominate his life at Liberty.

Delise teaches English at the school and his players are often in his class. He said that helps their relationships.

"They see the other side of me," said Delise.

Delise said players need to communicate with each other off the court, and there's a team rule requiring them to talk when seeing each other in school.

The New York native said he also stresses mental toughness. He said he wants the Lions to be able to handle pressure.

"Being able to deal with pressure is part of anything," said Delise. "It's part of life."

Sports have been a part of Delise's life for several years. He coached girls basketball in Georgia for 10 years before coming to Liberty in 1988-89. Two of his teams in Georgia finished in the state's top 10.

Delise also has coached boys soccer, boys basketball and junior-varsity softball at Liberty.

Wolff said, with a laugh, that people came to Liberty games early in Delise's tenure simply to listen. But the curiosity factor has faded as Delise's reputation as a coach has been established.

"It's not so much yelling," said Kelbaugh. "He's just very vocal. It keeps you on your toes."

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