By Eddie Levin
Next play, You can do it, I trust you.
This was the phrase EA boys’ basketball coach Craig Conlin calmly stated to Conner Delaney as the sophomore was getting ready to check back into the contest with time winding down in the fourth quarter and Episcopal holding a tenuous lead over unbeaten Academy Park in the opening game of the 10th annual Pete & Jameer Nelson Classic held at Chestnut Hill College on December 27 shortly after Delaney had made a couple of mistakes.
While you may hear most coaches yell this phrase from time to time throughout the game, it has really become the mantra for Episcopal Academy.
“When you make a bad play you are going to feel bad about yourself,’ Delany said following the game. “When coach says ‘ Next Play’ he really means it especially when you are coming off a bad play and he puts you right back in the game. It meant a lot when he put me back in the game and had trust in me to make the plays I am capable of making.’
Conlin said, “Our “Next Play’ philosophy is a way of thinking that we borrowed from Coach K at Duke. As coaches, we realize that kids do not want to make mistakes. Our job as teachers and coaches is to correct, quickly re-teach the proper methods, and then move on to the next play. It is a philosophy that we stress in our training sessions and something that our players respond to in order to help them get their mental outlook going in the right direction. Basketball is a fast paced game and a game that you have to make adjustments very quickly. This “next play’ approach helps our players clear their minds and ready themselves for the next play. We stress the need to move on and not dwell on past mistakes.’