Chip: Lindsay Whalen learning the difficulties of trying to build her own culture

BleedGopher

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per Chip:

The term “culture” has become so ingrained in the sports world that it now stands at the peak of buzzwords.

Every new coach hired talks about installing his or her culture every 30 seconds. Executives tasked with leading organizations sound as if they get paid handsomely with every mention of the word.

Pick a sport. Any sport. It’s inescapable. Culture this, culture that, culture, culture, culture.

Guess what? It’s true. Culture is a real thing that matters, however nebulous the concept or application of it might seem.

Lindsay Whalen is learning that reality in the same manner as every other new or young coach — the hard way.

Whalen’s best player, junior guard Destiny Pitts, announced a few hours before the tip-off of Thursday’s game against No. 22 Iowa that she is leaving the Gophers women’s basketball program via the transfer portal.


Go Gophers!!
 

Block M

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Important to build a culture but not all former players, not matter how good they were, are suited for coaching. The book remains to be written but this is concerning.
 

bleedsmaroonandgold

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I have to wonder if people would be less critical of Whalen had this same sequence played out with a less prolific player. If your culture is different depending on how valuable the player is, then it isn't really your culture. At a minimum, it seems clear that Whalen has sent a strong message that star players wont get a lower bar during her tenure.
 

JackFei

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Lindsay Whalen "culture" is Minnesota Nice culture. Unfortunately, Lindsay Whalen (quintessential Minnesota Nice) simply doesn't have the emotional intelligence and skill necessary to manage emotional conflict under stress. And the AD Disciplinary process, created by a UofM Nice culture, forces not so nice women to comply as a condition for continued belonging. That process, not Lindsay Whalen nor Destiny Pitts both decent and reasonable human beings, is 95% responsible for the lose - lose outcome that satisfies no one.

Barring a change, only "Minnesota Nice" young women like Rachel Banham, Carlie Wagner, Kenisha Bell, and Sara Scalia and those who grew up in foreign countries should participate in the UofM Women's BB program. Cultural outliers from other states should not be recruited: they wouldn't fit in because they express emotions in politically incorrect ways. We would have what we want: a polite and compliant team that finishes 6th in the Big 10
 

SpaceJunkie

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Barring a change, only "Minnesota Nice" young women like Rachel Banham, Carlie Wagner, Kenisha Bell, and Sara Scalia and those who grew up in foreign countries should participate in the UofM Women's BB program. Cultural outliers from other states should not be recruited: they wouldn't fit in because they express emotions in politically incorrect ways. We would have what we want: a polite and compliant team that finishes 6th in the Big 10
Heck, even the extremely low-bar of 6th in the Big Ten most years is good enough to make the NCAA Tournament most seasons (including this season).
 

Mulligan

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Lindsay Whalen "culture" is Minnesota Nice culture. Unfortunately, Lindsay Whalen (quintessential Minnesota Nice) simply doesn't have the emotional intelligence and skill necessary to manage emotional conflict under stress. And the AD Disciplinary process, created by a UofM Nice culture, forces not so nice women to comply as a condition for continued belonging. That process, not Lindsay Whalen nor Destiny Pitts both decent and reasonable human beings, is 95% responsible for the lose - lose outcome that satisfies no one.

Barring a change, only "Minnesota Nice" young women like Rachel Banham, Carlie Wagner, Kenisha Bell, and Sara Scalia and those who grew up in foreign countries should participate in the UofM Women's BB program. Cultural outliers from other states should not be recruited: they wouldn't fit in because they express emotions in politically incorrect ways. We would have what we want: a polite and compliant team that finishes 6th in the Big 10
This is about the silliest comment yet on the situation which is saying something. Whalen is as tough and competitive player, man or woman, who ever played for the Gophers. Matter of fact, I'd put her up there with Bobby Jackson and Richard Coffey. She also played for a coach as a Lynx who is demanding and tough so I doubt Lindsay is looking for "Minnesota Nice." Quite the opposite appears to have happened. I might add that team came first for her, not her feelings.
 

CutDownTheNet

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This is about the silliest comment yet on the situation which is saying something. Whalen is as tough and competitive player, man or woman, who ever played for the Gophers. Matter of fact, I'd put her up there with Bobby Jackson and Richard Coffey. She also played for a coach as a Lynx who is demanding and tough so I doubt Lindsay is looking for "Minnesota Nice." Quite the opposite appears to have happened. I might add that team came first for her, not her feelings.
I see some potential partial truth in both the quoted post and the @JackFei post that it references. Leading me to realize that perhaps a hybrid conjecture is called for, which I state here.

Circumstantial evidence seems to suggest that the ideal scenario to fit Whalen’s modus operandi comprises two components:

(a) A coach (her) who is demanding and tough, and is not above yelling loud and strong at her players, or benching them (or suspending them) when they make big mistakes, or fail to implement her game plan, or have what is deemed to be an attitude problem per her vision for team culture. This style is modeled on her coaching heroes, Geno Auriema and Sheryl Reeve, who she played for in the Olympics and professionally at the Lynx.

(b) A team comprised of players (from wherever) that are Minnesota Nice to the core, do not have excessively strong egos, and are sufficiently docile to be totally OK with (a).

One aspect that (so far) seems to be different between Whalen’s version of (a) and that of Geno and Sheryl, is that although the latter are demanding and tough and do yell a lot, they seem to forget the whole thing after 1-2 days (except to the extent that it informs training and goals for practices); whereas Whalen’s version seems to build up a grudge over time.

Ask Destiny Pitts.

I think Whalen can perfect the Geno/Sheryl version over time. And then this combination could (as was mentioned) get us into the NCAAs every year. Since, by tournament time, all players will have learned Lindsay’s system and bought into her culture (whatever that is - I think the term is over-hyped), we will have a well-oiled machine that can go far in the tournament.

As for this year at tournament time: we will have a well-oiled machine that is one Pitts short of going very far in (perhaps the wrong) tournament.
 

manderson1984

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I see some potential partial truth in both the quoted post and the @JackFei post that it references. Leading me to realize that perhaps a hybrid conjecture is called for, which I state here.

Circumstantial evidence seems to suggest that the ideal scenario to fit Whalen’s modus operandi comprises two components:

(a) A coach (her) who is demanding and tough, and is not above yelling loud and strong at her players, or benching them (or suspending them) when they make big mistakes, or fail to implement her game plan, or have what is deemed to be an attitude problem per her vision for team culture. This style is modeled on her coaching heroes, Geno Auriema and Sheryl Reeve, who she played for in the Olympics and professionally at the Lynx.

(b) A team comprised of players (from wherever) that are Minnesota Nice to the core, do not have excessively strong egos, and are sufficiently docile to be totally OK with (a).

One aspect that (so far) seems to be different between Whalen’s version of (a) and that of Geno and Sheryl, is that although the latter are demanding and tough and do yell a lot, they seem to forget the whole thing after 1-2 days (except to the extent that it informs training and goals for practices); whereas Whalen’s version seems to build up a grudge over time.

Ask Destiny Pitts.

I think Whalen can perfect the Geno/Sheryl version over time. And then this combination could (as was mentioned) get us into the NCAAs every year. Since, by tournament time, all players will have learned Lindsay’s system and bought into her culture (whatever that is - I think the term is over-hyped), we will have a well-oiled machine that can go far in the tournament.

As for this year at tournament time: we will have a well-oiled machine that is one Pitts short of going very far in (perhaps the wrong) tournament.
So far you can't prove this part in bold yet. There has been one situation, but you've seen assistants and players stay. Right now the situation seems to be between Pitts and Whalen and it's isolated. If we see recruits of Whalen leaving and assistants taking lateral or less jobs then this point can be proven. I'm sad a talented player chose to leave the U, but that is the culture now a days. This isn't rock bottom or truly anything to panic about yet.
 

manderson1984

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This is about the silliest comment yet on the situation which is saying something. Whalen is as tough and competitive player, man or woman, who ever played for the Gophers. Matter of fact, I'd put her up there with Bobby Jackson and Richard Coffey. She also played for a coach as a Lynx who is demanding and tough so I doubt Lindsay is looking for "Minnesota Nice." Quite the opposite appears to have happened. I might add that team came first for her, not her feelings.
The MN nice thing is ridiculous. Lindsey I said learning her coaching style still, but she hired a strong staff and has a strong AD to guide her. She's also well connected and I guarantee you if she reaches out, she'll get help developing this. When a new coach comes in, players leave. It's just part of the deal in a majority of coaching changes.
Let's wait and see if Lindsey's recruits start bouncing, then there is reason for concern, but if she's reloading, it's truly not an issue. Kids transfer at a record rate currently
 

Roland Brooks

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Good for Lindsay she needs to coach better in and off the court. Have not been impressed with the high turnover rate and poor offensive execution painful this year and last.

X and O’s need to get better. Too many times last year where they ran the clock Bell would drive and it ended up being a turnover or a bad and or blocked shot.
 

Livingat45north

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Lindsay Whalen (quintessential Minnesota Nice) simply doesn't have the emotional intelligence and skill necessary to manage emotional conflict under stress.
Always love it when some controversy pops up and you get these brand new people making posts to try to drive their agenda against someone. Welcome to the board Destiny, or Destiny's mom, or dad, or whoever you are.
 

gopherhoopsguy

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Coaching is hard. It takes a special talent to be able to communicate what a former all star sees to players not on her level. The frustration from players not getting it as easy or quick as it came to her. My all time favorite Minnesota woman athlete of all time.
I never understood the hire. Go coach somewhere learn how it is on that side of things. Whalen could be hired to her hometown at any point in her career.
This is on Whalen. There have been many many players suspended in different sports but the communication with the coach is the key. It has to be done with love and support and to learn from a action. No chance Whalen wanted her to leave. She miss played her hand over not shaking a coaches hand.

It’s to bad Whalen lied about the bello kids.

Whalen needs to figure out how to manage and handle college kids who were all the best players on there high school teams. So far she has struggled pretty bad.
 

JackFei

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Always love it when some controversy pops up and you get these brand new people making posts to try to drive their agenda against someone. Welcome to the board Destiny, or Destiny's mom, or dad, or whoever you are.
I use my name in posts. Who are you?
 

CutDownTheNet

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So far you can't prove this part in bold yet. There has been one situation, but you've seen assistants and players stay. Right now the situation seems to be between Pitts and Whalen and it's isolated. If we see recruits of Whalen leaving and assistants taking lateral or less jobs then this point can be proven. I'm sad a talented player chose to leave the U, but that is the culture now a days. This isn't rock bottom or truly anything to panic about yet.
> So far you can’t prove this part in bold yet. There had been one situation ... This isn’t rock bottom or truly anything to panic about yet.

Yes I concur completely. In fact I gave a thumbs up since I probably didn’t sufficiently emphasize this.

Pertinent is:
  • My point is only a conjecture, although Whalen’s coaching heros are factual.
  • It is only based on circumstantial evidence.
  • The circumstantial evidence has only one data point so far.
  • That data point was a really weird one - one that not only blind-sided Destiny Pitts, but that blind-sided and baffled the rest of us as well.
Throughout the latter ordeal, I felt horribly bad for both Destiny and Lindsay. If you read the main thread on this mess, you’ll see that I argue that although some genuine friction between Pitts and Whalen triggered the brouhaha, I conjecture that a horribly designed Athletic Department Disciplinary System has the lion’s share of the culpability for an issue that could have been resolved by a Pitts/Whalen informal discussion, devolving into a tragic outcome.

Also (true confession) I was one of the ones that went out of my way to recommend Whalen for the job to Coyle (although he was way ahead of me). This incident has shaken my confidence in Lindsay from infinite to, say, infinity minus some delta.

Lindsay may need to maintain a stoic pose on camera, but I suspect that privately she grieves the loss of Pitts.

A really good point is made by @gopherhoopsguy ...

> There have been many many players suspended in different sports but the communication with the coach is the key. It has to be done with love and support and to learn from a action. No chance Whalen wanted her to leave. She miss-played her hand over not shaking a coach’s hand.
 

manderson1984

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> So far you can’t prove this part in bold yet. There had been one situation ... This isn’t rock bottom or truly anything to panic about yet.

Yes I concur completely. In fact I gave a thumbs up since I probably didn’t sufficiently emphasize this.

Pertinent is:
  • My point is only a conjecture, although Whalen’s coaching heros are factual.
  • It is only based on circumstantial evidence.
  • The circumstantial evidence has only one data point so far.
  • That data point was a really weird one - one that not only blind-sided Destiny Pitts, but that blind-sided and baffled the rest of us as well.
Throughout the latter ordeal, I felt horribly bad for both Destiny and Lindsay. If you read the main thread on this mess, you’ll see that I argue that although some genuine friction between Pitts and Whalen triggered the brouhaha, I conjecture that a horribly designed Athletic Department Disciplinary System has the lion’s share of the culpability for an issue that could have been resolved by a Pitts/Whalen informal discussion, devolving into a tragic outcome.

Also (true confession) I was one of the ones that went out of my way to recommend Whalen for the job to Coyle (although he was way ahead of me). This incident has shaken my confidence in Lindsay from infinite to, say, infinity minus some delta.

Lindsay may need to maintain a stoic pose on camera, but I suspect that privately she grieves the loss of Pitts.

A really good point is made by @gopherhoopsguy ...

> There have been many many players suspended in different sports but the communication with the coach is the key. It has to be done with love and support and to learn from a action. No chance Whalen wanted her to leave. She miss-played her hand over not shaking a coach’s hand.
Appreciate your response. Could have Lindsey and her staff handled this differently? Sure, but so could've Pitts. Coyle also could've stepped in. The fact that none of this happened really makes it hard for me to believe this is truly one sided or one persons fault. Whalens been around way too long to truly suspend someone over something so petty and without any other prior conversations. She also has a assistant staff and a really good AD, plus numerous other coaches to reach out to.

Coaching is hard and new coaches will make some mistakes, but it's not like coaches just go and seek out their best player and suspend them out of the blue for no reason. Also this stuff has to be approved by higher ups I'm sure and there must've been conversation. What's obvious is that Pitts didn't understand previous conversation or feel they happened.

Don't feel bad about your recommendation yet. Scalia looks good and there are other good recruits coming. Think sometimes it just doesn't work out when their is a coaching change.
 

let'sbeclear

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Could have Lindsey and her staff handled this differently? Sure, but so could've Pitts.
If you believe both Lindsay and Destiny could have handled this differently -- presumably not only differently, but better, i.e., leading to a better result -- surely the greater responsibility in handling it better is on the coach, who is older, more experienced, and getting paid the big bucks.
 

manderson1984

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If you believe both Lindsay and Destiny could have handled this differently -- presumably not only differently, but better, i.e., leading to a better result -- surely the greater responsibility in handling it better is on the coach, who is older, more experienced, and getting paid the big bucks.
The coach is handling it well. She's been nothing but supportive publicly and hasn't thrown anyone under the bus. That's her job and she's allowing herself to get torn apart in the media for it. Her team seems to be playing better the last two games too?

I have different expectations for what a coach should do and a player. That being said until there is more concrete data out there, this is a 50/50 issue here at minimum. I think you are missing my point. I'm saying they both could've handled it better in their roles. This requires more of Lindsey as it should, but this deal of Pitts being a victim is absolutely ridiculous. There is too much experience on that coaching staff and in the U of MN administrative offices to allow their coach to truly be that "petty".
 

let'sbeclear

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I'm saying they both could've handled it better in their roles. This requires more of Lindsey as it should,
My post was only stating precisely what you state here. I did not suggest anything else. I agree with this portion of your restatement.
 
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