Tim Benz: Another Pittsburgh coach rips team in Michel Therrien-like rant
Within a day of the anniversary of “the rant,” Duquesne women’s basketball coach Dan Burt channeled his inner Michel Therrien.
He even called his team “soffff.”
Burt actually pronounced the “t” at the end. But close enough.
You remember Therrien’s infamous diatribe addressing his struggling Penguins team after a 3-1 loss to an equally bad Edmonton club, right?
That happened Jan. 10, 2006. Exactly 12 years and 364 days before Duquesne women’s basketball coach Dan Burt pulled off a carbon copy of what Therrien did.
Except Burt did so over 12 knife-twisting minutes. Therrien was kind enough to finish the job in less than four.
Here are the circumstances.
Burt’s Dukes fell to 7-8 after a 62-47 home loss to Davidson on Wednesday night. It was a game which featured his team losing the rebound battle and the turnover margin, all while shooting 33 percent from the floor.
Not good for a team projected to be among the best in the Atlantic 10 this year.
When Burt addressed the media after the game, it was shockingly similar to that Therrien presser. He never raised his voice. He was calm and measured. He never cursed or got out of control. It was a “slow burn.”
“It’s a continued slow burn,” Burt said when I interviewed him for his televised show Thursday.
WATCH: Dan Burt rips team in news conference
Here’s how he began the news conference, before any questions were even asked.
“We are a bad basketball team that doesn’t play hard enough, that is selfish and frankly, can’t shoot a basketball to save our lives at this point,” Burt stated. “We got our butts kicked.”
OK. Solid opener. Also, good to break the ice in the room with some levity.
“Shooters are too comfortable shooting against us,” Burt said. “We think because our hand is there, that’s acceptable. But if they can shoot it, then they’re not that uncomfortable. We’re a poor defensive team. We don’t guard the ball well. We certainly don’t guard dribble penetration.”
And we’re off! I’ll just bullet point the highlights from here.
• “Our post players got picked on by a 5-foot, 11-inch kid (Sarah Donovan) who got 21 points and 12 rebounds.”
• Burt blistered his team for not carrying practice over to games. “When the lights aren’t on, we can shoot it. We the lights come on, we can’t.”
• Burt called his team “soft,” specifically pointing to Kadri-Ann Lass — a WNBA draft prospect — failing to go up strong and settling for a reverse layup at one point in the loss.
• The coach challenged his upper-class leadership, saying the locker room needs to police itself. “Nothing is going to change until the people in the locker room change.” Burt didn’t back off the next day on his television show, following up with, “I don’t understand how four seniors who have been lauded as the best class in school history want to go out this way.”
• He lambasted players for worrying about their minutes and pro careers. He said Paige Cannon needs to stay out of foul trouble, and Laia Sole needs to get in the weight room more. He demanded all players besides Conor Richardson find more “fortitude.”
Toward the end of his venting, Burt summed up his disappointment by saying, “I can’t want it for them more than they want it themselves.”
Along the way, Burt mentioned he hasn’t faced a challenge like this since his second year at West Virginia when he was an assistant.
So how did he pull out of that?
“I got fired,” Burt responded Thursday morning. “Well, technically, I resigned. I got out before the mob got to me.”
Oh. Scratch that then.
Burt is turning to the Broadway stage for guidance after seeing “Hamilton” at the Benedum.
“Talk less, smile more,” Burt said, referencing a line repeated often in the show. “Kids can only take so much criticism. But I still need to be direct.”
Hamilton was a pretty direct guy. As I remember, though, it didn’t end well for him.
Luckily, it appears none of Burt’s players are as mad at him as Aaron Burr was at Hamilton.
“Everything that I said in the press conference are things that I’ve said in practice and to the individuals,” Burt explained Thursday. “I don’t like to call out young women in the media. I don’t like to make it an individual thing. I try to make it a team thing. But we are what we are right now. The only way we are going to fix this is if that locker room changes.”
A famous portion from that Therrien rant was, “They pretend to care. They don’t care.”
Burt’s players care. But to quote Hamilton again, they need stop “throwing away their shot.”