Smooth-operator Byers should turn Owls around


December 22, 1993|By BILL FREE

It was a vintage Dave Byers performance, and will probably bring results in February.

The longtime successful Westminster High boys basketball coach spent 20 minutes performing mental surgery on his players and the media after his team fell to a 1-3 record last Friday with a 56-53 loss to Centennial.

First, Byers met privately with his players and told them what they were doing wrong and what they had to do to become a competent team again.

Then the performance got even better when he faced the media while some of the players milled around in the background.

Byers began by saying: "You saw it [game]. Did it look to you like we had any idea what we wanted to do out there? Since that was the case, it has to be my fault as the coach. Whatever I knew last year as a coach, I must have lost somewhere over the summer. If you find that knowledge anywhere, call me up and let me know where it is and I'll go retrieve it."

Byers was the coach of the year in the county last season, guiding his team to upset victories over Thomas Johnson and Quince Orchard and a near-upset win over Montgomery Blair in a strong stretch drive that gave the Owls a 4A regional playoff berth.

That playoff team struggled early in the season before Byers was able to put his winning stamp on it.

There were some ready-made excuses for the Westminster coach after last week's Centennial loss. The visiting Eagles were quicker than the Owls and they had a take-charge player in Seann Jones (23 points).

But on this night, Byers refused to accept any excuses. Twenty-three Westminster turnovers had a lot to do with it.

"Not being as quick doesn't have anything to do with dribbling into double teams and not catching the basketball," he said. "And we gave Jones wide-open three-point shots in the first half. He's a good player for this area, but it's not like he is Michael Jordan or Jerry Stackhouse [highly touted North Carolina freshman]. There's only a few of those players around. We see a guy like Jones dribble the ball down the floor and make a shot, and all of a sudden we think he's unstoppable for some reason."

Byers continued his dialogue as a few players came up to ask what time practice was on Saturday. He was surely hoping they would get the point a second time around if they didn't get it the first time.

It was classic coaching stuff and if anybody needed any more insight into what has made Byers one of the winningest coaches in the state, it was right there to be seen during those 20 minutes.

Byers was still coaching long after the game had ended. He knows sometimes the mind has to be coached more than the body.

Finishing second no disgrace

It came as no shock to North Carroll wrestling coach Dick Bauerlein last weekend when his Panthers had to settle for second place in the Ray Oliver wrestling tournament at McDonogh.

North Carroll had won the tournament nine straight years and put up a good fight against Hanover (Pa.) High, which was competing for the first time in the tourney.

Hanover had nine wrestlers in the finals and finished with 234.5 points to win. North Carroll had 190.

"It's just hard to beat those Pennsylvania schools because they have varsity-like competition in the middle schools," said Bauerlein. "By the time they get to high school, those guys have three years of intense competition at a high level."

Westminster girls surprise early

While Byers is trying to work his magic on the boys, the Westminster girls came out of the starting gate quickly with a 3-1 record, including a stunning victory over Annapolis in the second game of the season.

Julie Backof and Lauren Kadlubowski have been two of the top reasons for Westminster's success. But coach Bernie Koontz has been receiving some well-balanced scoring in the early going.

Coach needed

With Karol Brown moving out of state to join her husband, the Westminster volleyball team is seeking a new coach.

Brown's husband was transferred to another job before school started, but she remained behind to coach the volleyball team this past season before leaving.

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