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Two Honorable Commanders Who Want to Cry

Posted November. 15, 2002 22:51,   


Frequently off are the cellular phones of Choi In-sun, coach of SK Knights, and Shin Sun-woo, coach of the KCC. Phone calls are pouring in to ask if everything`s OK with them.

That`s understandable, considering the performance of their teams during this season. As of Nov. 15th, by which the first round was wrapped up, SK remains near the bottom, ranked 8th with 3 wins and 6 losses. On the other hand, the KCC is simply at the bottom, recording 8 losses with only one win. The average team score is 79.1 per game for both, ranking jointly 9th among 10 teams.

Who are Choi and Shin? Throughout the pro basketball history, they are the only coaches who won the championship more than 1 time. By last year, the career record of Choi is 188 wins, and that of Shin is 177. These two coaches retain the top two positions.

Then, what has pushed these two renowned coaches against the wall? To answer it, we first have to look inside the team conditions of the Knights. Suh Jang-hoon has gone to Samsung, and two major players, Choi Sang-hyun and Lim Jae-hyun, serve in the army now—a big loss for the team. In addition, Brooks does not live up to the salary and expectation. On top of these, a star rookie Lee Han-kwon put a cast on his ankle for injury. Choi sighed and said, "I expected it would not be favorable for us. But, it`s well over what I expected."

In the meanwhile, the KCC was counted as the most promising candidate for the championship this season. Thus, it feels more shocking watching the fall of the team. Its star players of Lee Sang-min, Chon Hee-chul and Choo Seung-keun have not got over the "jet leg" from playing on the national team in the last Asian Games. They are exhausted. Then, the harmony between Korean players and their foreign counterparts has been shattered into pieces. What is needed most to get out of the slump is to boost up the spirits and regain the confidence. So far, coach Shin has maintained himself, saying that time would heel. Now, coach Shin made a long sigh, saying, "The problem is serious. It`s a headache."

The coaches cannot sit on their hands, facing a slump. Choi used to stay home once a week. These days, the interval is stretched to 15 days, living with players for most of the time. A day flies by for Choi, having a daily discussion session with players, analyzing other teams and training. He would have hit the bottles. On the contrary, he would not even have a sip. Choi says he would drink like a fish if he should start. That is why he refrains.

It`s almost the same for Shin. He has leveled up the practice, and immersed himself in analyzing and coming up with tactics. But, he is the person who also indulges himself in refreshing. When he hits the road for an away game, he visits sightseeing places or does a yoga-type exercise to rejuvenate himself.

Will these two coaches face through this crisis?

Jong-Seok Kim kjs0123@donga.com