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Investigation of SHS Basketball Program Launched after Complaints from Parents

Officials promise to probe allegations of name-calling, verbal abuse by Strongsville HIgh School coaches

A small group of parents told Strongsville school officials Thursday night that "negative environment" and bully tactics by coaches are ruining the district's basketball program and causing kids to leave the team.

Superintendent John Krupinski promised to look into the complaints.

"There will be a comprehensive investigation," he said. 

's long-time head basketball coach Joe Lynch said he did not want to comment until after he meets with school officials on Monday. 

Parent John Psellas told the board his son, a senior, is leaving the SHS basketball team this year because he is tired of the negativity.

"Our students should be playing the game they love and not leaving it because of a negative climate," Psellas said.

Paul Lekan echoed his sentiments, saying the concerns have nothing to do with win-loss records or playing time, but are raised because boys are "choosing not to participate."

"The program needs to be looked at," Lekan said.

And George Metrakos said his son was physically manhandled -- the coach grabbed him by the shirt and yelled at him in front of fans during a game -- and verbally abused. 

"How can this program verbally and mentally abuse these kids?" he said. 

The parents say Lynch and his assistant coaches call the kids offensive names, criticize their playing, fail to provide enough conditioning and rarely offer any praise.

"If my son had called a teacher what he was called, he would have been suspended," Psellas said.

Lekan said he is fine with passionate coaching, but not with "post-play put-downs."

Psellas said he is aware of at least six juniors and seniors who have played together for years, but will not join the SHS team this winter.

"They're refusing to play under the current coaches," said Psellas, who said he has already met with Lynch and Athletic Director Paul Moses. "They (coaches) have to be tough on the kids, but they also need to build them up."

Moses called the situation "unfortunate" and said he planned to meet with the basketball coaches about the concerns.

"We hope our programs promote a positive atmosphere," Moses said. "It's high school sports -- it's fun."

Lynch, the former athletic director at SHS, has coached boys basketball for the last 37 years. In December 2009, he was recognized for his 500th career win.

He was not at Thursday's School Board meeting. Contacted by phone Friday, Lynch said he wants to respond to the allegations, but said he would hold off until after meeting with Strongsville school officials on Monday.

At the board meeting Thursday, School Board President David Frazee promised to delve into the matter.

"You have my word we will definitely look into these issues," he told the parents.

Krupinski said "safety and security" of students is of utmost importance.

"We're taking his matter very seriously," he said.

Build....Lead....Motivate August 29, 2012 at 03:46 AM
The boys look like a bunch of 3 point shooting robots out there on the court. Need I mention that the lowest percentage shot in basketball is the three point shot. Most NBA players don't even make 3 out of 10 three point shots, and then for our players not to be crashing the boards on those 3 point attempts is inexcusable and something that coaching would correct. The boys have very little creativity in their shots, and they seem slow in their ball making decisions. How many players in Strongsville can take their defender off the dribble? How many kids show that they can do a spin move (maybe then can do a spin move in practice, but why doesn't that translate into games)? How many players do a reverse lay-up during a game? How many turn around jumpers did the fans see last year? Which players know how to do a Kobe Bryant step-through shot? Which players can do an Allen Iverson runner in the lane (Meehan, Stephens and Alexander should've been doing this all year)? How many jab steps, or ball fakes did we see last year? How many players in Strongsville know how to play with their back to the hoop? Does anyone in Strongsville show that they have any post moves (Jake and Wes should've been able to play in the post, but we sure didn't see this much at all)? I saw Meehan and Stephens do a Rajon Rondo ball fake once the entire season. Are they not allowed to do a Rondo ball fake? Are they scared that the coach will yell at them?
Build....Lead....Motivate August 29, 2012 at 03:46 AM
I believe that some of the Strongsville players are playing based on fear of being pulled in a game? Are they afraid of making mistakes for fear of being pulled or name called? I don't know. What I do know is that I've watched some of these boys play at the Rec. Center. They play a much looser style of ball at the Rec. They are more themselves, they play freer, they are willing to try moves that look like basketball looking moves. They don't just chuck up three point shots. They create, they dribble drive. They look like they are having more fun playing at the Rec. I'm going to address one of my favorite players on the varsity team. Kyle Meehan. He is an excellent point guard. Many people may have thought he was a ball hog last year. I didn't. He dribbled the ball so much because he was looking to find one of his buddies to pass to, but his buddies were standing around the three point line not moving at all. He couldn't pass the ball because the defender was all over the guys on the wing because our wing players were just standing there on the 5 out perimeter offense that Strongsville seems to continually run. Why were the players just standing on the three point line not moving, not screening, not back screening, side screening, screening the ball, cross court double screen, any type of freakin' screen? They looked like they didn't know how to play without the ball. Is that the coaches fault? Or is that the players fault? Who is to blame?
Build....Lead....Motivate August 29, 2012 at 03:47 AM
Was there instruction during practice on what to do if the first or second run through of the offense didn't work? I'm going to tell you now that Meehan is not a 3 point shooter. Yes, he can make them, but would I have him shooting 3 pointers all game. Heck no. He is a penetrate and dish guy, he is a playmaker, he's a creator, he can use both hands better than anyone on the team, and he wants to pass the ball to a cutter, but NO ONE is cutting to the hoop because the coaches do not instruct cutters to move without the ball. How many times Meehan or Stephens could have dished the ball to a weak side cutter and it would be an easy two point shot/layup. Meehan could be one of the best pick and roll guards that Strongsville has ever seen. But we will never see it in the current system. Just to clarify, I am not related to Meehan, and they have no idea that I am writing this, so before anyone tries to blame the Meehan family, the only reason I am singling him out, is because for Strongsville to be effective this year, they better utilize him in a Derrick Rose type of player or the Strongsville varsity team is in for a world of hurt. I could go on and on of examples throughout the season where I believe our coaches are getting totally out-coached by a mile. I am worried about our players learning/not learning what they need to on the court in order to be successful, in order to learn the game of basketball, in order to create on-court leaders and off-court young men.
Build....Lead....Motivate August 29, 2012 at 03:48 AM
I'll end with this.....Romeo Crennell was a nice guy, a good coach, a good man, but at some point he lost control of the Cleveland Browns and his time in Cleveland was over. It is possible the Strongsville high school basketball program may be at the same point. I encourage Paul Moses to chat with Coach Lynch and his assistants, review some of what I've talked about here and to boldly address what they will do differently this season if indeed they return. The players can sense a coach's confidence in his players, and they can also sense a lack of confidence. I don't settle for mediocrity in my life, and neither should our boys. Build.....Lead.....Motivate.
Jim S September 12, 2012 at 09:02 PM
Joe Lynch is one of the finest coaches to ever coach basketball in northeast Ohio. He remains one of the finest. There appears to be a few people with a "Lynch Mob" mentality. I think that is very sad. The entire Strongsville community is fortunate to have a man of Joe's stature as their head coach. I hope the superintendent and other leaders of the school system have the courage to support Joe against this small "mob" of complainers. We will see if they do..........

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