with six conference championships in his 12-year career as the men’s basketball head coach, Carl Danzig is ready for his seventh.
In this season’s Landmark Conference preseason poll, the Royals are the top choice for winning a conference title.
“This is the standard that we expect to set here,” Danzig said. “This is the fifth time we’ve been preseason number one in the past seven years for the conference. We have the bullseye on our chest and we embrace it.”
With all Landmark Conference eyes on the Royals, Danzig credits his team’s consistency seen in its performance each and every season—even if that does not help the team make friends with competitors.
“People hate our consistency,” Danzig said, “but it’s a valuable lesson: people respect you but hate you when you win all the time.”
Danzig said the keys to his team’s success are both developing team harmony and keeping the experience fun for his players. The Royals traveled to Montreal, Canada, in August where they played against two professional teams and one college team. Danzig said the Royals were 1-2 on their Canadian adventure, but the experience helped bring the players and coaches closer together.
Danzig emphasizes the importance of good team chemistry among all players, including those who do not see much play time.
“So much about being successful is creating team harmony,” Danzig said. “To be good and be really good, everyone needs to get along. So even the guys that sit at the end of the bench have to feel that they’re a part of the program even though they don’t play all of the time.”
In Danzig’s basketball program, “the best players play.” He said his players all had the same opportunities, but not everyone performs on the same level.
“It’s a competitive world out there,” Danzig said. “I think we get a little confused when we’re younger thinking that playing is a right—it’s not, it’s a privilege. So few people get a chance to wear the jersey, and you have to work hard to be able to play and be better than somebody else. And our guys understand that.”
One of Danzig’s “best” is his son, Ross. Averaging 14.6 points and 34 minutes per game with 57 consecutive starts, Ross Danzig returns this year for a third season as a starter and team captain.
“He’s a great kid and works hard, and he does everything you want as a player,” the elder Danzig said. “The coach’s son has to be a little bit smarter, a little bit better, and do everything little bit harder to prove that he deserves to be on the team. We’ve accomplished a lot in a short period of time and I’m looking forward to the next couple of years to what we’ll accomplish together.”
The Royals begin their season at 7 p.m. Friday against Immaculata University in the Long Center.
Coach Danzig said the Royals are focusing on “one game at a time,” and his current primary concern is the team’s first opponent in the 2013-2014 season. But looking past Friday’s game, Danzig is optimistic.
“We’re looking forward to the challenge and excited about the opportunities that lay ahead of us,” Danzig said.
Danzig will face those challenges and seize those opportunities this year with his son, Ross, once again by his side. For the third year in a row, there will be two Danzigs on the court this season. A father and a son are ready to make new memories and earn a shiny new trophy for the Long Center display case.
“They’re memories I’ll cherish forever,” Carl Danzig said. “When we’re older and I’m in a wheelchair and Ross is my age, we’ll have fun laughing over it over a beer or two, I’m sure.”
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