The Bears did something unusual Saturday during their practice at the PNC Arena. They ran wind sprints, punishment for a few misdeeds against Duke. Strange for a day between sessions of the NCAA Tournament.
“But to me, that's about passion, want to do the best,” Hoffman said. “It's about excellence. How good can you be? Well, you better bring it every day if you're going to be the best.
“We don't take days off. We may not go hard, but we're trying to get better mentally. We're trying to get better physically. Might be getting better spiritually, whatever. We're getting better somehow to be a better man so we can be the best we can be when we step out on that floor.”
That’s the passion Banz has seen all these years, including through his daughter, Michelle, who played a season at Southern Nazarene for Hoffman before he took the OBU job.
“It’s a people business, especially at that level and the higher levels you go,” Banz said. “There are a lot of teams that have a lot of good players. It’s finding the passion button individually and collectively that puts the components of a team together. He’s always had a knack of being able to do that.”
Since beating Duke, Hoffman said he has heard from at least a few players on every team he’s ever coached. Piedmont High School. SNU. OBU. Texas-Pan American. OU, as an assistant under Kelvin Sampson. Minor league teams in Little Rock, Ark., and Hidalgo, Texas.
“When you're as old as me, that's a lot of folks all over the country and all over the world getting messages from all over the place,” Hoffman said. “So that was a blessing. It’s nice to know you have people that care like those folks did.”
No surprise there. Making people care is why Mercer beat Duke.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at email@example.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.