Portland State hoop coach Heath Schroyer will try to control his intensity and improve his team after a trying first season
Heath Schroyer acknowledges, 'I wear my heart on my sleeve.'
If he wore his heart on his socks, boy, his heart would get worked over because few coaches stomp harder when upset.
And if he wore his heart on the side of his face, well, from one minute to the next his heart would sit right alongside: a) a scowl, b) a look of disgust, c) a set of closed eyes mired in despair.
'Geez, I didn't know it was that bad,' Schroyer says, laughing.
In his first year as basketball coach at Portland State, the Viking men won only five of 27 games, but Schroyer was a runaway winner of the Tribune's unofficial Most Intense Coach on the Sidelines Award.
Congratulations, Heath. We're sure you'll celebrate.
'I turn 31 next month,' he says, 'but I feel like I'm 51. My wife tells me I won't live to 51.'
If Schroyer had a bigger belly, gray hair and about 800 more wins, he could easily pass for Bobby Knight. Asked to comment on the comparison, Schroyer says, 'I don't want to talk about coach Knight.' Schroyer was nailed for only two technicals this season, and he claims not to get his jollies chastising referees, tongue-lashing players or wringing necks.
Schroyer, however, does have an explanation for living just this side of that mythical existence known as 'Losing It.'
'I played that way: all-out,' he says. 'I was a little bit of an underachiever.
'I wear my passion, my heart and love for this game on my sleeve. Playing hard needs to be taught now. I have to teach toughness. I like to recruit toughness. You've got to be able to play hard and have toughness.'
Actually, Schroyer is a disciple of some of the lords of basketball, men who 'coached against the game' rather than the opponent. It started with prep legend Morgan Wootten, who coached him at DeMatha High School in Hyattsville, Md. 'He was very calm, but very intense in his own way,' Schroyer says.
While coaching under Keith Hughes at Fresno City College, Schroyer learned about 'constantly coming with your lunch pail and working.' Apparently, the college didn't provide hot meals.
'I've got a lot of energy,' says Schroyer, who grew up on the East Coast. 'When you're not used to losing, it's frustrating. I've got a lot of passion, and nobody wants to win more than me.'
Hired to go, uh, 22-5, Schroyer's team battled through the loss of players who quit, injuries and big man Seth Scott learning the NCAA Division I ropes. The Vikings scored a memorable, late-season win over Idaho State, remaining competitive thanks largely to two wonderful seniors, Kevin Briggs and Jeb Ivey.
Schroyer says he'll calm down once the Viks start to win more often because his mentors Ñ Tom Izzo at Michigan State, Kelvin Sampson at Oklahoma and Big Sky Conference rivals Ray Giacoletti at Eastern Washington and Joe Cravens at Weber State ÑÊall settled down with age.
'Hey, they're intense, too,' Schroyer explains, justifying the trademark vociferous and demonstrative ways of college hoops coaches. 'The only difference is, they play in a bigger gym.'