One coaching approach — scholars call it the "Holtz-ian school" — calls for sandbagging opponents and managing expectations with constant poor-mouthing of one's team.
Sean Woods is not an adherent.
"We're talented," the Morehead State men's basketball coach says of the 2015-16 Eagles. "We're athletic, we've got kids who can play multiple positions. They're professionals (in their approach). And I don't have any knuckleheads. It is a group I am really enjoying coaching."
Woods, the former Kentucky Wildcats guard, will officially tip off his fourth season as Morehead head man when Cincinnati Christian visits Nov. 13.
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For Woods, 45, his first three seasons head coaching in the state where he became an Unforgettable player have been solid, if not spectacular. Under Woods, Morehead is 52-49 overall, 28-21 in Ohio Valley Conference games. In 2013-14, Woods led MSU to a 20-win season (20-14) and the first round of the College Basketball Invitational. Last year, Morehead finished 17-17, but was 10-6 in the OVC and reached the semifinals of the league tournament.
"I really feel like this is the first year where we've had the personnel to fully play the system I want to play," Woods said Thursday. "I think we can really get after people defensively."
Scorecards figure to be in high demand at the Ellis T. Johnson Arena early this season. To a nucleus of key returnees that includes guards Brent Arrington and Corban Collins and former Louisville Eastern High School forward Lyonell Gaines, Woods has added 10 newcomers, including seven junior-college transfers.
One of the jucos, 6-6 DeJuan Marrero, began his career at DePaul. He had 16 rebounds in 25 minutes of play in an exhibition win over Asbury on Tuesday night. Freshman forward Lamontray Harris, a former Pleasure Ridge Park standout, had 13 points in 16 minutes against Asbury.
"I'm really happy with all the guys we brought in," Woods said. "It may take us some time, we may be a little better after the ball drops (on New Year's Eve) than before. But I think we've got a chance to contend."
Woods, of course, made his name in Kentucky as a point guard at UK under Rick Pitino in the early 1990s.
Along with Richie Farmer, Deron Feldhaus and John Pelphrey, Woods was in the class of players who stuck with Kentucky through a harsh NCAA probation. The four were seniors on the Jamal Mashburn-led 1991-92 UK team that returned the Cats to NCAA Tournament play — only to see Christian Laettner's famed buzzer beater deny them a Cinderella Final Four trip.
Given all they went through at UK, I've always wanted to believe the four classmates — known in Wildcats lore as The Unforgettables — are bonded in friendship for life. Evidence suggests they are.
After Farmer was sentenced to prison for public corruption from his tenure as Kentucky's commissioner of agriculture, Woods and Feldhaus made a point of attending the state high school basketball tournament and sitting with him while Richie watched his son, Trey, play in Rupp Arena.
Now that Farmer is serving a 27-month sentence in federal prison in West Virginia, Woods says, "I have not talked directly to Richie. I do communicate with his parents from time to time. From what I understand, things have gone well. We're hoping Richie will be getting out soon and can get his life moving forward again."
In the meantime, Woods is hoping to get Morehead basketball moving upward. In the OVC preseason poll, defending league tournament champion Belmont is the prohibitive favorite to repeat as champ. MSU was tabbed second behind Rick Byrd's Bruins in the OVC East.
Under Woods' predecessor, Donnie Tyndall, Morehead State advanced to the NCAA Tournament twice, 2009 and 2011. Those were the school's first trips to the Big Dance since 1984.
Brian Hutchinson, the Morehead State athletics director, says he is optimistic that Woods will get the Eagles back on college basketball's biggest stage.
"Sean has been who I thought he would be when we hired him," Hutchinson said. "He's intense, he pushes the kids hard, but I think they enjoy playing for him. I think the biggest thing, with this new group he's brought in, I think we are going to have some roster stability. And I think we have kids who can play the way Sean wants to play."
Not a coaching "poor-mouther," Woods thinks so, too.
"I'm really excited," Sean Woods says, "about this team."