Friday, December 14, 2001
Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason why coaches get pumped up for a game.
Hilos Law revved up
to play Division III
By Jerry Campany
Players expect it before big games that mean something. They expect their coach to be a little edgy before playing a tough conference foe. But when a coach is all worked up over a game against a weak Division III foe, there must be something going on.
There will be something going on in Hilo over the weekend as Hawaii-Hilo basketball coach Jeff Law will be on his players like they are playing for the Pacific West Conference Championship. But they won't be, they will be playing lowly Division III Potsdam State on Monday at home. But the game will mean more to Law than his players will ever know.
"My guys are going to be looking at me like, 'Why are you so tight? Why are you so pumped up to play this game?,' " Law said. "I've got to atone for some of the B.S. I went through as a player. Beating Potsdam today might make up for some of it."
You see, Law played his college ball at Plattsburgh State in northern New York from 1982-84, where his team was annual fodder for the Bears. But Potsdam treated everyone like a whipping boy in those days, appearing in the Division III national tournament every year from 1978-90, taking two national championships and finishing second three times.
Law knows of Potsdam's dominance firsthand, having never beaten the Bears in four tries as a scrappy guard. But at least someone in the Law family has sent Potsdam home unhappy.
Law's father, Norm, coached Jeff through college and beat the Bears the first time they met up, 78-62 in 1970. It all went downhill from there, as he went five years without beating them and hung up his whistle with a lifetime record of 2-23 against Potsdam from 1969-86.
Norm Law will not be able to make the trip to the Big Island to see his son's possible revenge on Potsdam, as he is tied up teaching at the University of Pittsburgh. But he will know the result as soon as his son can find a telephone.
"He would have liked to be here," Law said. "It is different for him, the rivalry has kind of come and gone. ... But he is still anxious and will be here in spirit."
It is funny how coaches go through entire careers living with wins and dying with losses, but when they finally call it quits, the end result no longer matters. It is only the people who count.
"I remember it even when I was a little kid," Jeff Law said. "I remember packed gyms, big rivalries and special players who became friends of mine. I remember Potsdam way more easily than someone else in the conference."