Last Friday night, when the Lynn English boys basketball team took the floor against Malden Catholic, there were the usual players in uniforms and warm-up sweats shooting baskets during warmups.
There were also nine young men preparing for the game — all of them decked out nattily in shirts, ties and dress pants. They were led by the head coach, Antonio Anderson.
Alas, the image of the coach pacing the sidelines while wearing a shirt and tie has pretty much gone by the wayside. You might see one, now and then. Dave Brown of St. Mary’s will dress up on game days once in a while, but for the most part, basketball coaches generally eschew the business look in favor of school-color and logo golf shirts. And while it’s certainly not demeaning or slovenly, I prefer the business executive look. So it was kind of nice to see these 10 English High gentlemen adorned in their white shirts and ties (except for Anderson, who sported a slight, off-white shirt).
Some of them indeed looked a tad uncomfortable in these shirts, as if wearing them was foreign to them. And perhaps that was the case.
No matter. It looked classy, especially when you consider all of these men are still on the youngish side (some of them very young) and would stand to have the biggest influence over the high school boys they’re coaching.
Anderson had just finished directing the type of game that can give a young coach ulcers. His Bulldogs had just pulled out to a 26-point lead over the Lancers in the second quarter, and it looked as if it would be an early Christmas celebration for English.
Only the Lancers weren’t in a celebrating mood — or, at least, they weren’t that anxious to be cannon fodder for someone else’s festivity. They managed to get that lead down to 6 midway through the fourth quarter before they ran out of gas at the same time English rescued itself from what would certainly have been a bone-crushing defeat.
Anderson, shirt and tie and all, wasn’t a happy man. Yet his face lit up when asked about his and his coaches’ sartorial splendor.
“We want to establish a presence,” he said, “so we have a dress code for on game days.”
Anderson explained that Brown is one of his mentors, “and he always wore a shirt and a tie. It presents a more professional look. We are representing the school. They all wear shirt and ties. Why not us?”
Anderson learned from the best. College basketball coaches still dress as if they’re going to an annual meeting for every game. And no one dresses more sartorially elegant than John Calipari, who coached Anderson at the University of Memphis. He, along with his mentor (Rick Pitino), is one of college basketball’s true dandies.
But Anderson said it wasn’t his old coach’s influence that spurred him to doing this as a simple hope that he’ll translate a message to his players.
“We hope it shows people that we’re going to do things the right way,” Anderson said. “If you look good, you feel good, and you’ll do a better job.”
One other observation at the tail end of a long weekend …
I believe it was Scott Zolak who said, after Sunday’s game, that if you run a replay back slowly enough, and often enough, you can see anything you want to see.
That would seem to have been the case Sunday when the replay officials overturned an on-field ruling that Kelvin Benjamin did not have possession of the ball after making a spectacular catch for what looked to be a touchdown. It’s one thing to check something out on replay. It’s another thing to make the correct call on a dumb rule (such as last week’s play in Pittsburgh). But going frame-by-frame and coming up with that call? That is absurd.
And it points out the one flaw in instant replay, in the words of Swampscott’s Rob Levine: if the technology is there, you’re going to use it. Meaning that as long as it’s permissible to go frame-by-frame in super-slow motion, you’re going to be susceptible to charges you were searching for something and finally found it after the 25th look at it.
I don’t think that was ever the intention of replay. Do you?
I was a Catholic school boy who attended high school out of the city. I never experienced the largesse of Walter J. Boverini in the sense that many, many Lynn high school kids did. My only point of reference for Boverini was as a politician.
But I’ve heard enough stories of his charity toward Lynn’s kids, and got to know him better once I came here and talked with him every December at our football dinner.
The tournament citywide basketball tournament named in his honor commences at 1:30 Wednesday at the Classical gym. Try to take in at least a game of it, and honor the memory of one of Lynn’s true gentlemen (and one who almost always wore a shirt and tie in public!).