By Matt Sugam
NEW YORK – As a sophomore on a callow team, Mike Poole was thrust into a leadership role. Self-admittedly, he wasn’t ready.
He hadn’t been through enough. With only a year under his belt, he didn’t have the clout of an upperclassmen. As hard as he tried, Poole was just too young himself.
“As a sophomore at 19-years-old it’s tough because you don’t know what to say,” Poole said at Big East media day at the New York Athletic Club in New York City. “You’re feeling the same way that everybody else is feeling at the same time, so separating yourself form that is kind of difficult.”
But Poole grew from those hardships. And now, he’s actually ready to be a leader.
“I learned no matter how the season’s going, as a leader you always have to stay positive,” Poole said. “You always have to pick guys up, regardless if you’re winning 20 games, you still have to do it. If you’re losing 20 games you still have to do it.
You have to make every day enjoyable. You don’t want to have anyone come in there and put their heads down…So I’ll be prepared more this year to take that role.”
And his head coach has already seen that Rosedale, NY native will be.
“Mike, everyday, the understanding that he brings to what I want to coach, what I want from a leader,” Mike Rice said.
What Rice wants is a different voice keeping the team in line. Players grow tiresome of the hollering from Rice and the coaching staff.
“Nobody ever wants to hear the coach all day yelling at you,” Poole said. “So having the player telling you what to do because he knows what to do it makes everything more comfortable for the player and the team.”
Which was lacking last year on a team without any scholarship seniors and a young leaders like Poole. To Rice’s pleasure, that won’t be the case this year.
“It’s better to self police yourself. It’s better if I don’t have to fix a problem,” Rice said. “If you have upperclassmen fixing the problems, it’s so much better than me fixing the problems because it comes from your peers, it comes from your leader.”
One of whom will be Poole. And his voice is already being heard.
“Mike never shuts up in practice and that’s the best characteristic for Mike,” Rice said. “He’s always communicating to his teammates helping them succeed.”