Standing just a few feet from last year’s Final Four banner hanging on the wall and just a few minutes after his son beat the buzzer and Saline 48-45 with a half-court shot, Huron boys’ basketball coach Waleed Samaha didn’t sugar coat the fact that there was nothing sweet about what he had just seen from his basketball team – both in play and character.
“To be honest, this was embarrassing,” Samaha said. “The performance all night was embarrassing, from start to finish and the way our team behaved after the game. That’s not the Huron way.”
Most coaches would be pleased to get the win against a strong team such as Saline. Great teams win games even when they are not great that night, but the River Rats were miles from great on Tuesday night. And Samaha realizes that if something doesn’t change they are going to get picked off in the postseason long before another Final Four.
“We are going to relearn the Huron way starting (Wednesday) in practice,” he said. “We stole one tonight. We stole two against this team. They really deserved to win both games. We have to be really careful that we don’t see them in Districts.”
Samaha has every right to be disappointed in his team. They have a ton of talent, experience and as always, high expectations. They don’t expect to win every game, but they do expect to play well, play hard and play smart in every game and that clearly hasn’t happened consistently this season.
“We don’t play smart, we don’t compete and we don’t play the right way,” Samaha said. “Everyone is going to talk about the last-second shot, but I don’t care about that. We played a horrible game and I coached a horrible game and everything we did was embarrassing.”
The Ann Arbor area has always had strong basketball teams and the three programs have been playing above the rim for over a decade now. One of the reasons is outstanding and dedicated coaches, not just head coaches Samaha, Mike Lovelace (Skyline) and Rich Marion (Pioneer), but the staffs they have supporting them. And when a coach as successful and respected as Samaha says “something is definitely wrong,” you believe him – and you also believe it will be fixed.
Give Saline plenty of credit. They played hard all night, are well coached and never surrendered. They know they can play with Huron, and walked off the floor Tuesday night believing they should have beat Huron.
“We really haven’t played well once this season,” Samaha said. “I don’t know how we are winning or why we are winning, but we won’t keep winning if we don’t fix a bunch of things and that starts (Wednesday).”
Huron got away with one on Tuesday night against the Hornets, but after a quick celebration on the court, the River Rats realized they really had nothing to celebrate. Let’s just say it was hard to find a smiling Huron player as they were leaving the gym – despite the thrilling finish.
When Huron is playing “the Huron way,” games like these don’t require a buzzer-beater from midcourt. They have big expectations and better raise their game if they are going to get there in 2022.