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The Early Lead
Posted at 01:57 PM ET, 03/14/2012

NCAA Tournament 2012: Lamar Coach Pat Knight’s epic rant fueled Cardinals’ run


Lamar Coach Pat Knight made his displeasure with his players public, and it worked. (David J. Phillip - AP)
When Lamar Coach Pat Knight decided to call out his seniors following a Feb. 22 loss to Stephen F. Austin, the video went viral almost immediately. After all, nobody could resist drawing comparisons to Knight’s father — and noted hothead — Bob Knight and conclude that the apple hadn’t fallen far from the tree.

To recap, Pat Knight told reporters he had “the worst group of seniors, right now, that I’ve ever been associated with,” and added that “these kids are stealing money by being on scholarship.” He later called them “tin men … with no heart” and said if they continued on this path in the real world, they would “be homeless without a job.”

“When I played, if you acted the way some of these guys do, you got shoved into a locker with a forearm up against your neck and told, ‘You don’t do that. That’s not how we do things here at Indiana.’ And that’s what we need,” Pat Knight said emphatically that day.

But perhaps the most notable thing he said now that No. 16 seed Lamar is getting ready for a play-in game matchup with Vermont in Dayton, Ohio, on Wednesday night came in response to a question about the remainder of the regular season, when Knight announced that “it wouldn’t surprise me if they lost the rest of them.”

That’s because since that moment, the Cardinals have won six straight games, including an improbable run to the Southland Conference tournament title.

Knight reportedly planned his outburst, telling his assistants before walking into the news conference that “I’ve tried everything but calling them out publicly.” And so in a matter of three weeks, Knight has gone from a national punch line to a national story line now that his unorthodox approach to motivation has worked wonders on his team.

“When he did what he did, we could have curled up in a ball in a corner and quit, but we never did,” senior guard Anthony Miles told the Associated Press this week. “It kind of just forced us to come together stronger and show the world that we’ve got a really, really good team.”

Whether the Cardinals beat the Catamounts tonight or not, it’s unlikely their stay in the NCAA tournament will last much longer than Friday, when they would face No. 1 seed North Carolina. But that’s a moot point considering the dramatic turn of events that have transformed Pat Knight’s rant into one of the more incredible postgame tirades we may ever hear.

And this late-season run certainly caught Bob Knight’s attention, too. After Lamar qualified for the NCAA tournament last weekend, the ESPN analyst said on the air that “I’ve been in basketball for almost 50 years now, and I think that may be the nicest day I’ve ever had.”

More NCAA tournament coverage:

For Iona, MVSU, a different sort of madness

Interactive bracket & tournament history

44: Obama picks Tar Heels to win it all

Fab Melo ruled ineligible for NCAA tournament

NCAA tournament quiz: Can you locate the schools?

Locals in the 2012 NCAA men’s tournament

2012 NCAA tournament bracket predictions

By Mark Giannotto  |  01:57 PM ET, 03/14/2012

 
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