Pat Knight seems to have coached himself out of an identity crisis.
Knight acknowledged he had a difficult time adjusting in his first full season at Texas Tech a year ago. Players said he may have tried to please too many people – his bosses, fans, his team.
Maybe even his famous father, Bob Knight.
Pat Knight, who took over after nine years as an assistant to his dad at Texas Tech and Indiana, said he was unsure at first how to act. Should he be subdued, the antithesis of his father?
“Then finally, toward the middle of the year, I’m, ‘To hell with it, I’ve got to be me.’ And that’s getting after people,” Pat Knight said. “So there’s just too much stuff I worried about that I shouldn’t have.”
The transition wasn’t easy, said the younger Knight, who claims he’s more like his father “than anybody knows.”
Bob Knight, who resigned midseason in 2008, didn’t go to practices last season when Texas Tech finished 14-19. That left Pat Knight to forge his own way.
He chose to abandon his father’s man-to-man defense and use a zone, which he said he truly didn’t “know the first thing about.” The Red Raiders won only three games in Big 12 Conference play.
“We didn’t really know how to approach each other,” Pat Knight said of the relationship with his father. “Just strange. It wasn’t bad. It was just odd.
“He didn’t want to overstep boundaries, but now we got that all straightened out.”
The two now talk regularly and, when the elder Knight is in town, he comes to practices and offers tips to his son and players.
The father understood his son’s approach last season.
“You get your first job and you think you can reinvent the wheel, instead of going with what works for you and what you know,” Pat Knight said his father told him.
Pat Knight has a more athletic team this year and there is greater depth off the bench. He’s returned to the man-to-man defense and seems more comfortable leading the team.
It seems to be working. The Red Raiders (10-1), who are ranked No. 23, entered the AP poll earlier this month following a 99-92 overtime home win against then-No. 12 Washington.
Leading scorer Mike Singletary said players like the way Pat Knight coaches them.
“Pat just makes us feel comfortable,” said Singletary, who added that he often felt stymied while playing for the elder Knight.
When Bob Knight told him to do something, John Roberson said, the player “couldn’t really say anything about it because it’s his way or the highway.”
“Pat’s more, ‘Tell me what you think.’ He allows you to go to him to tell him what you think.”
That happened late in the win against the Huskies. During a timeout Pat Knight told his players to shift into a zone on an inbound play. Roberson said he told his coach he thought the team should stick with man-to-man.
His coach agreed and the decision brought Roberson a steal and a layup that sealed the win.
“I think we are just more mature,” said Roberson, who thinks Pat Knight can build a powerhouse program in West Texas.
“I didn’t even expect for us to be this good this year,” he said.
Trojans win in Hawaii
Marcus Johnson had 19 points and nine rebounds to lead Southern California (8-4) to a 67-56 victory over UNLV (12-2) in the championship game of the Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu.
Dwight Lewis added 14 points for the Trojans and tournament MVP Mike Gerrity had 13.
Oscar Bellfield led UNLV with 17 points.
The Trojans pulled away with a 12-0 run late in the first half.
In consolation games:
Omar Samhan scored 24 points to lead Saint Mary’s (11-2) to an 84-75 victory over host Hawaii (6-6) in the third-place game. ...
David Kool scored 16 points to help Western Michigan (6-5) win fifth place with a 66-63 win over College of Charleston (6-6). ...
Matt Janning’s 16 points, eight rebounds and six assists boosted Northeastern (3-7) to seventh place with a 73-62 win over SMU (4-6).