How a Burned-Out Basketball Coach Rebounded in Ireland—and Won a Team’s Trust

Coaching Pro Hoops in Éire, I Learned to Love a Lost Cause, and Turn It into a Victory

“Time out!” I yelled.

It was something I said a lot that year, in the midst of a losing streak that would culminate in a dead last place finish. This was in the Irish Super League—perhaps the lowest level of pro basketball in the world—and I was the coach of the Tralee Tigers.

My team gathered around me on the bench, and I wondered for an instant if I should use the time out for hugs instead of hollering, to make sure nobody was about to burst into tears. Time outs …