Commentary: Bravo, Larry, for Defending Your Team

by - Correspondent -

Those who entrench themselves in the anti-Larry Shyatt camp were hoping his momentary meltdown in Saturday's loss to Duke would lead to a feeding frenzy.

Instead, save for the odd exception here and there, most media outlets chose to report the incident fairly, pointing out that Dahntay Jones went out of his way to make an ass of himself in front of the Clemson bench at a time when emotions on both sides were running amuck.

And Shyatt's reaction? Well, here is one writer who says bravo, Larry.

You can apologize for the brief moment of madness, when you charged toward the Duke bench before being restrained by assistant coaches and officials.

But don't apologize for the passion, love and caring you have for your team.

Don't apologize for standing up for your kids, your court, your school.

Don't apologize for taking exception to an opposing player showing no class or no respect.

Those of us who have been in your situation - coaching a group of kids very few people really believe in - likely would have reacted the same way. Especially if the player in question dropped the f-bomb with the word "mother" preceding it, as in, "I'm taking it to you mother(blanks)."

But therein lies the problem. Most of the folks passing judgment on Shyatt have never walked a mile in his shoes. They don't know what it's like to be responsible for the outcome, the daily well being, of 12-15 young men or women.

They don't understand that once you form a bond with those players, anything done to embarrass, shame or harm those kids can be, and often is, considered an act of war.

So instead of lambasting Shyatt for his outburst, I applaud him for it.

And for one columnist in this state, whom I consider a friend, to compare Shyatt to Bobby Knight and recommend a suspension, well, my friend that wasn't one of your better performances.

I don't recall Larry Shyatt publicly embarrassing his university over and over again by his antics with the press. I don't recall Shyatt flinging a chair across the floor in anger over a call.

I don't recall Shyatt kicking a player in a huddle.

I don't recall him choking another during practice.

I do recall another instance or two where Shyatt lost his cool, but each time it was in defense of his team. Each time - and we're talking about perhaps a total of three in his four seasons - he was man enough to stand up and apologize if his reactions seemed out or order.

But at the same time he defends them because of his love for his team, and for Clemson University - a school whose basketball program seemingly is the whipping boy for the Atlantic Coast Conference, both on the floor and off.

So hold your head high, Larry. Any thoughts you had lost control of this team can now be put to rest. If anything, the family you so often talk about seems to be stronger than ever.

And that being the case, don't be shocked if this team has a surprise or two left up its sleeve in the final seven games of the regular season.

Remember, a wounded animal is always most dangerous when backed into a corner.

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