(Since I am in the middle of a 7-day blogging challenge, I am going to take a one week break from the Wonder Why Wednesday posts. Don’t worry, we will return to our regularly scheduled Wonder Why Wednesday programing next week.)
Last season, the Dayton Flyers advanced to the Elite 8 in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. For the non-March Madness fans out there, this means they had an awesome year.
This year they returned a large chunk from that team and once again expected to have a great roster. They envisioned a team featuring Devon Scott, a 6-foot-9 junior, Jalen Robinson, also a 6-9 junior, and Steve McElvene, a 6-11 freshman.
In a sport that requires size, having those three options was going to be critical.
But then things changed.
The NCAA declared McElvene ineligible. Scott and Robinson were kicked off the team after allegedly committing theft in an on-campus dorm.
Suddenly the team looked much smaller (in both size and numbers). Add in the fact that two other players have been out for the year due to injuries, and Dayton’s roster has been reduced to just six scholarship players, none taller than 6-6.
No other Division 1 team is that limited. If anyone has a reason to use excuses, it is Dayton head coach Archie Miller.
However, Miller is taking a different approach.
He told CBSsports.com’s Gary Parrish that he has turned every excuse into a positive for this team. “Everything is advantage-us,” Miller said. “It’s advantage-Dayton in a lot of ways.”
Rather than talk about being shorthanded, he explained to his players that they all came to Dayton to play and now they will get their chance to play. Each guy will get to play more minutes and they are going to get better more quickly than they would if they were sitting on the bench. So, this is actually going to help them.
Rather than talk about the lack of size, he chose to focus on the overall speed and skill his team will be able to put on the floor. They may not have a big guy on the court, but they have a bunch of little guys who can dribble, pass and score.
Dayton’s 15-3 record shows Miller has been right. A team full of excuses is not feeling bad for themselves.
Miller has convinced his team to think that their shortcomings are nothing but positive.
Parrish is certain that, deep down, Miller does not necessarily believe any of that. Miller would much rather have his 6-11 and two 6-9 players back on the team. What coach wouldn’t?
But Parrish feels there is a larger lesson in play.
When we find ourselves in the middle of a situation overflowing with excuses, the best thing we can do is recognize the excuses and look for a way to spin them into a positive light.
Archie Miller has taken a dreadful situation, mostly out of his control, and spun it into a “advantage-Dayton.” And it is working.
The same could work for us.