Flagler Palm Coast's first-year coach, Michael Talley, wants to build a winning mentality.
Two games in a row, the Bulldogs came up just short to undefeated teams. Some people may say FPC, which went 7-18 last year, is headed in the right direction. That’s not how Talley sees it.
After the Bulldogs lost 60-58 on the road to Father Lopez on Dec. 5, Talley was silent for 10 minutes before asking his players, “Did you guys like how that felt?”
When they said they didn’t like the feeling, he told them the mindset had to change. They had to come out with energy from the start and not let up.
Unfortunately, he said, that didn’t happen two days later on Dec. 7 when New Smyrna Beach (5-0) held off FPC 55-50 at the Bulldogs gym.
FPC (2-4) battled back from an 11-point deficit in the fourth quarter.
I don't think it was a really good effort. I think it’s a mindset that you have to have to start a basketball game.”
— MICHAEL TALLEY, FPC boys basketball coach
“I don't think it was a really good effort,” Talley said. “I think it’s a mindset that you have to have to start a basketball game, and I don't think we were ready to even play the game from the beginning.”
Talley has a history of winning as a player and a coach. His Detroit Cooley High teams won three straight state championships. As a player for the University of Michigan, he was a part of two NCAA championship game appearances. As an assistant coach in Michigan, he was a part of one state championship, and as a head coach, he won two state championships.
“You know, you got to learn how to finish games,” he said. “We were up seven (against Father Lopez) going into the fourth quarter and turned the ball over five or six times panicking. Last year, the guys were used to not winning or having pressure to win, and that's something that I'm trying to bring to the program, to let them know every free throw counts, every jump shot is important, every possession is important. And until we realize that, we’ll have some bumps in the road.”
FPC hit just 3 of 11 free throws against New Smyrna Beach. The Bulldogs went 0-for-6 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter. They also gave up eight 3-pointers to the Barracudas, many uncontested.
“(New Smyrna) did a really good job,” Talley said. “They are a well-coached program. The kids came off a tough win last night (48-46 at Deltona on Dec. 6), so I thought that we could put pressure on them and press them, and they held on to get a win, but I do believe it was more us than them.”
Jameer Clark scored 11 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Bulldogs with 15 points. Sophomore Anthony Hampton played in his first game after recovering from a fracture and chipped in with 10 points, including two 3-pointers.
“Last year, a lot of the games were wide-open 20 point losses,” Talley said. “So when you got really close losses, the guys still panic, because they haven’t been in that situation. So you kind of got to go through it in order to know how to fix it.”