Saturday, January 23
A Long Hardwood Journey
"You know that we’re not running the correct out-of-bounds play, right? That our defensive press is a mess? That we’re close to another loss? Coach Marc Skelton leaned in close, his eyes inches from those of his teenage players, his questions pregnant with expletives. He had paced, implored, tossed his arms in the air, yelled and, for punctuation, whacked his clipboard like a zydeco musician with a washboard. Combustion seemed a real and present danger. It was December, and Skelton’s basketball team, the Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School Panthers, had traveled across the South Bronx to a rival team’s gym. 'Fellas, you are in the lion’s den,' Skelton yelled into the din, with another flourish of profanity. 'Now you have to kill the lion!' Skelton directed his players to double-team the top three opposing scorers, who were talented shooters but not great passers. They rely on chaos; respond by playing methodically. ..."