Wittenberg’s Bill Brown isn’t a coach known for bringing the fire and brimstone. At halftime of Saturday’s game at Denison, though, he let his players have it.
“We had a gut-check talk at halftime,” Brown said. “I imploded for the first time all year just about effort and intangibles. I think the guys were better in the second half.”
The Tigers trailed 39-33 at halftime, opened the second half on a 12-2 run and won 79-78. Wittenberg had one of its best offensive nights of the season, shooting 55 percent from 3-point range (12-of-22) and the field (27-of-49).
Brown doesn’t yell often. He said he shows that side of his coaching personality when it’s deserved and when he thinks it can help the players put things in perspective.
“I’ve never seen him yell like that before,” junior guard Zack Leahy said. “It was pretty intense. He lit a fire under our butts. We came out in the second half and played a lot better. He was just disappointed in how hard we were playing. We weren’t talking on defense.”
It was the third straight victory for the Tigers (11-4) and helped them stay in third place in the North Coast Athletic Conference at 4-2 going into a road game tonight at Wabash (4-10, 2-3).
No. 8 Wooster (12-2, 6-0) and No. 9 Ohio Wesleyan (13-1, 6-0) continue to lead the league. They meet for the first time Saturday in Delaware.
“Every game’s big, especially in our league,” Leahy said. “We’ve got so many good teams. Anyone can beat anyone. We’re pretty confident Wooster and Ohio Wesleyan aren’t going to go undefeated in the league, especially if we go to their place and beat both of them. We’re pretty confident if we keep winning we still have a chance.”
Leahy was a big reason the Tigers beat Denison. He made 5-of-6 3-pointers and scored 18 points. Leahy shot 3-of-15 from 3-point range in the previous four games and is shooting 32 percent for the season.
Leahy had a strong stretch midway through the season when he made 7-of-15 in four games, but he shot 3-of-20 from long range in the first six games.
“It’s pretty obviously I was struggling at the beginning of the year,” he said. “To find my stroke like that, hopefully I can continue to do that the rest of the year.”
Wittenberg plays a young Wabash team tonight. The Little Giants start three freshmen and two sophomores and will look nothing like the team that beat the Tigers 55-49 in Crawfordsville, Ind., last season.
“They’re very big and physical,” Brown said. “They play a back-breaking schedule. They have a lot of depth.”