Bruiser Flint On Calipari, VCU In Virginia Daily Press - UMass Athletics

Bruiser Flint On Calipari, VCU In Virginia Daily Press

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Former UMass head coach Bruiser Flint is the subject of an interesting story in the Daily Press of Virginia: Flint reflections. He talks about fellow former UMass head coach John Calipari, whom he succeeded with the Minutemen, as well as current CAA foe VCU. Flint just completed his 10th season as the head coach at Drexel in Philadelphia.

"I've coached in two leagues - the A-10 and the CAA," he said. "Both of those leagues have sent teams to the Final Four. There hasn't been another A-10 team since I left the league, but there's been two teams in the CAA since I've been in the league. I must be the good luck charm."

Flint reflections

Bruiser Flint, who went 21-10 in his 10th season as Drexel head coach, is watching VCU's improbable Final Four run from afar, but he's no stranger to postseason success.

Flint was an assistant on the John Calipari-coached UMass team that advanced to the Final Four, losing to eventual national championship Kentucky. But unlike the Rams, who have stunned the college basketball world, the Minutemen were a No. 1 seed.

"We were in the top five in the nation pretty much the entire year and had a 20-game win streak," Flint said "We were pretty good. We were one of the teams everybody thought would be in the Final Four that year. That's a different type of pressure."

UMass was also one of the first schools without a major football program - known in today's parlance as a BCS school - to achieve such sustained NCAA tournament success, making Flint a trailblazer of sorts.

"I've coached in two leagues - the A-10 and the CAA," he said. "Both of those leagues have sent teams to the Final Four. There hasn't been another A-10 team since I left the league, but there's been two teams in the CAA since I've been in the league. I must be the good luck charm."

George Mason became the first team in league history to make it to the Final Four in 2006. VCU is on a similar Cinderella ride this season after beating No. 1 seed Kansas in the Elite Eight in coach Shaka Smart's second year.

"I really like Shaka," Flint said. "We text and talk from time to time throughtout the season. I know I'm getting old because I'm getting ready to call him a kid, but he's done a great job. He's a very, very nice person.

"I always tell him the sky's the limit for him. I'm a big fan of his. I think he handles himself very well. He handles himself with a lot of class."

As to the uncharacteristic technical Smart got against Kansas - his first of the season - Flint (known for a more fiery persona) said: "That's not me jumping up and down. The referee must have been unbelievably sensitive."

Other CAA coaches also shared their thoughts about VCU's Final Four run.

George Mason coach Jim Larranaga: "I was talking to one of our players (Monday). Throughout the conference race, I kept telling the team that this is a great league and there's a lot of terrific teams and we have to play great to beat the teams in this conference. I repeated that over and over again. Today I met with our team and I said do you believe me now, how good our league is, that the team that finished fourth in our league is now headed to Houston for a chance to play in the national championship game."

"The game is - a lot of it is physical, but 80 perecnet of it is mental. A lot of confidence comes from the player's thoughts about himself and his teammates. Those thoughts change daily. Some days a guy is feeling really good about himself. He feels healthy, he feels energized, and he's really looking forward to playing. There are other days when he's hurt and sore and sick and tired and doesn't have that same energy. When you get to posteason, players who are energized and feel like they're being given an opportunity to showcase their talents tend to get focused very very quickly. I think that's what happened with VCU."

William and Mary coach Tony Shaver: "It's a senior-dominated team. It's something that we're going to see more of, I think. I hate the term mid-major, but the teams that have guys that stay for four years, you're playing with expderience and some of the quote bigger teams we've all heard so much about with the tradition, sometimes they're playing with freshmen and sophomores. It makes a real difference."

Read more about the impact of VCU's Final Four run on the CAA in Thursday's Daily Press, and find out how ODU coach Blaine Taylor, whose team faced both VCU and Butler this season, thinks Saturday's Final Four will shake out in Friday's Daily Press.


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