Pittman named WDN Coach of the Year

Published 8:24 pm Thursday, April 12, 2007

By By BRIAN HAINES, Sports Writer
ROBERSONVILLE — In an era of micro-managing, where most coaches call set plays every trip down the court and draw X’s and O’s to just to take a water break, Darryl Pittman defies modern sports logic.
The Roanoke coach led his team to a 26-3 record, along with an Atlantic Conference regular season and tournament championship behind one binding principle - nobody drops his guard on defense.
Pittman established an early give and take with his players — they would give it all they got on the defensive end of the court, and the coach would take the leash off them on the offensive end.
As a result of that formula, Pittman is now able to take something else, a Washington Daily New Coach of the Year award.
Throughout the season the Redskins predominantly played a zone defense, mixed in with various half and fullcourt traps. While Pittman may have been focused on defense for the entirety of the game, it’s a safe bet the fans’ attention was on the other end of the court.
Led by Washington Daily News All-Area Player of the Year, Dyquail Lloyd, the Redskins turned their stellar defense into dazzling open court displays.
Featuring five starters that were all equipped with 20/20 court vision and the willingness to share the rock, the Redskins routinely ran the fastbreak at a superior pace and, by the end of the night, ran their opponent out of the gym.
Four out of the five Roanoke starters finished the season with double-digit scoring averages, as Lloyd (15 ppg), Alonza Higgs (15 ppg), Kenneth Hyman (14 ppg) and Altonio Higgs (10 ppg) each took turns ripping the nets.
The Redskins’ staunch defense and high-octane offense were no doubt instrumental to Roanoke’s success, but the real key to victory lies with Pittman’s ability to sell the idea of team ball to his players.
Truth be told, any one of Roanoke’s five starters had a good chance at putting up 20 points per game or more had he been selfish. However, they all knew that while their personal stats would have increased, the one stat that really matters might have suffered — the team’s win-loss percentage.
There are several talented teams across the state, and while all of them talk about being one-for-all, it’s not always the case. It was for the Redskins, and that is a direct result of Pittman.
However, the Roanoke coach refused to take credit for the team’s unselfishness.
They are also the kind of players who would view their 2005-06 23-5 record as not good enough, and as a motivational tool for the 2006-07 campaign.
Lloyd said that finishing second to Plymouth in the Atlantic Conference, and losing to the Vikings in the conference tournament motivated him and the rest of his teammates.
Pittman said his team’s success and willingness to work made for an enjoyable season.