The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Sports

July 25, 2013

Scott Dudinskie on High School Girls Basketball: Collins loved the game

Enthusiastic.

Prepared.

Genuine.

Did I mention enthusiastic?

That's the impression Southern Columbia girls basketball coach Kevin Collins made when we met in January.

It was a postgame interview, as these introductions often are, and it was engaging. A foundation for a good working relationship.

And it almost didn't happen.

You see, Collins' team suffered its first loss of the season in a staggering way. The Tigers surrendered a 15-point third-quarter lead and ultimately lost by a point.

It was the kind of scenario where, in my experience, it's sometimes best to give the losing coach a pass with a sympathetic nod or "see you next time" wave.

But it was important to me to make Collins' acquaintance, no matter how brief the exchange might be. A handshake, a few pleasantries and a pledge to talk again under better circumstances, rather than rehashing such a devastating loss.

Sounded like a plan.

More than seven minutes later, the interview ended.

"The girls want to be a great team," he said at one point, "so (I ask), 'How are we going to react off this? Are we going to walk into the next game with our heads down or are we ... going to get back on track to where we need to be?'

"My girls are going to be fine. They're going to come back ready to play because they're hungry to win."

I have to say, if I'd heard the same spiel over the phone, it would have buried the needle on my BS meter. I'd have pegged Collins as the used-car-salesman type.

However, there was no question he believed it (eyes being a window to the soul and all that), and so I believed him. If he delivered the message to his players half as earnestly as he did to a reporter he just met, the Tigers would forget the loss before they left the gym.

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