BOGACZYK: Daniel’s Team Eats, Shops, Cooks, Cleans with Competition
The Word on the Herd-Sept. 14, 2015
By JACK BOGACZYK
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – To the victor goes the spoils … or, in this case, the tasty grilled chicken dinner.
Marshall women’s basketball Coach Matt Daniel, hoping to boost his young team’s grade point average, tinkered with something in which his players had to do what they do best -- compete.
With eight freshmen on a roster of 16, he wanted the newcomers to get a solid start on their academics before practice and games began, too. So, the eighth-year Herd coach brought a plan to summer that he has used in past fall and spring semesters at Central Arkansas and Marshall.
“We divide up our team and every coach has an ‘academic team,’” Daniel said Monday. “And we compete. We use the ‘occasional meal’ rule (permitted by NCAA) in the process. So, among the four teams, first place gets to just eat, create the menu -- within reason, clearly.
“Second place, the players get to pick what they want to do – go shopping, cook, or clean. Third place gets to pick whatever second place didn’t pick, and then fourth gets stuck with what’s left.”
The standings are determined by average GPA within the foursome. The winning team – headed by assistant coach Devrinn Paul – included junior Chelsey Romero and freshmen Shayna Gore, Khadaijia Brooks and Maddie Morris.
“Was there ever any doubt?” Paul asked about his team’s 3.38 summer GPA average.
The second- and third-place teams – headed by Daniel and assistant Tony Kemper – tied in average GPA, at 3.25. Daniel’s quartet (Leah Scott, Norrisha Victrum, McKenzie Akers and Kelsey Riley) chose to go shopping “within reason, again,” Daniel said. Kemper’s team of Taylor Porter, Hope Lester, Logan Fraley and Tana Drive decided to clean.
Fourth place went to assistant Caronica Randle’s 3.0 average group of Talequia Hamilton, Kiana Evans, Enjonae Chambers and Ama Arkoful. They had to cook the meal – grilled chicken, green beans, macaroni and cheese, potatoes, etc. -- for the session held at Daniel’s home in Barboursville.
The current women’s basketball average cumulative GPA is 3.18. Ten of the 16 players have a cumulative 3.0 or better. Twelve of 16 had summer GPAs of 3.0 or better.
“Every team had at least a 3.0,” Daniel said. “All 16 players went to summer school, and we had a 3.22 team GPA this summer – the highest any of my teams have had during a summer session. And for the first time in my career, with 16 on the roster, we don’t have anybody in mandatory study hall.
“Now, they’ll have tutors and they can go to study hall, but it’s not mandatory. They’ve earned that right already – and that’s with eight freshmen, so that tells you the level of student-athlete we’re getting here.”
Daniel gave plenty of credit to Jillian Boys, the team’s advisor with the Buck Harless Student-Athlete Program, his assistants “and the advisors on campus. All of them do a great job. And we’re trying to do a great job of getting the right kind of student-athlete everyone can be proud of.”
Daniel, whose team is coming off a 17-15 season and a WBI quarterfinal finish, said he can’t remember where he got the idea for the style of team academic competition, but he’s used it in fall and spring semesters on and off during his career.
“This is the first time during the summer,” he said. “We haven’t typically done it in summer, but from now on, we will. These groups will stay the same – we had such a good summer. Sometimes we let the staff draft players, sometimes we balance the teams … you’ve got to have fun with it.
“But we obviously did all right with the teams we have, with the 3.22. Our goal is to have 3.0 as a team, so we topped that. Sometimes it’s hit or miss because it won’t work with the personality of some teams, but our intention is to do it with every team.
“Academics, community service and basketball -- that’s what we’re about here.”