sports psychologist & clinical psychology

THERE WAS A BRILLIANT STREAK OF LIGHT, A TRAIL OF DEBRIS, AND THEN IT WAS GONE. RESIDENTS THOUGHT THEY HAD SEEN A FALLING STAR IN THE SKIES ABOVE SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, BUT IT WAS JUST VANCE WALBERG’S REPUTATION BREAKING UP IN THE ATMOSPHERE.

Stockton Record – Jan 25, 2008 – Jason Anderson – There was a brilliant streak of light, a trail of debris, and then it was gone. Residents thought they had seen a falling star in the skies above Southern California, but it was just Vance Walberg’s reputation breaking up in the atmosphere.

Walberg resigned last week in the middle of his second season as men’s basketball coach at Pepperdine. He issued a statement saying he was stepping away for personal reasons, said he would have no further comment and vanished into the night without addressing allegations of player abuse and rumors of a mutiny in Malibu.

Walberg became the fourth West Coast Conference coach to lose his job in 315 days. Santa Clara ran Pacific alum Dick Davey out after 15 seasons, San Diego bought out the final year of Brad Holland’s contract and USF coach Jessie Evans stepped down under bizarre circumstances. Evans “requested” a leave of absence on Dec. 26, setting off a highly scrutinized sequence of events in which athletic director Debra Gore-Mann hired Eddie Sutton over the phone the same day.

Those were cases of WCC schools cutting throats in a desperate attempt to gain ground on Gonzaga, but the Walberg situation is different. This was a rising figure in the coaching profession going down in flames, and it’s amazing how fast he fell.

It was just a little more than six weeks ago that Walberg stood victoriously inside Spanos Center, beaming under the bright lights above the court following an 83-65 win over Pacific. Walberg said it was “by far” his team’s best game of the year. It was probably his most triumphant moment at the Division I level.

“I’m very, very proud of the players,” Walberg said that night. “I’m really excited to get a big-time win like this on the road. … We really needed a performance like this.”

With a big win and promising young players, it looked like Walberg was on his way.

If you had searched for him on the Internet then, you would have found stories about his heralded dribble-drive motion offense. You would have learned that he was 133-11 in four seasons at Fresno City College with two California Commission on Athletics coach of the year awards and one perfect season. You would have discovered that SI.com named him one of the most innovative coaches in college basketball.

You would have read that, after meeting Walberg while he was still at Fresno City, Memphis coach John Calipari scrapped his half-court system, adopted the Walberg way and took his team to No. 1 in the nation.

You would have found a blog called “The Vance Walberg Nation,” with diagrams of his offense and a schedule of clinics created after Walberg was besieged by requests for more information from coaches at all levels across the country.

Now?

Now, you’ll find new references to an old story about Walberg forfeiting 70 games, two section championships and a California Interscholastic Federation state title for using a player who was 19 years old when he enrolled as a freshman at Clovis West High School. You’ll read about a failed experiment at Pepperdine that produced a 14-39 record. You’ll read about self-imposed sanctions for recruiting violations and a despicable story about Walberg ordering a player who acted like “a baby” to sit on the bench and suck his thumb during practice.

Pepperdine athletic director John Watson told The Los Angeles Times that Walberg’s actions did not constitute abuse, but many will feel differently based on the thumb-sucking story alone.

“(The) intent is solely to publicly embarrass and demean, and to create a lasting memory for everyone at the player’s expense,” said Dr. John F. Murray, a Palm Beach, Fla.-based sports psychologist who said the move “grossly crosses the line of inappropriate and abusive (behavior) when done by a coach entrusted with the well-being of his troops.”

Walberg will get another chance. He’ll go back to the community college ranks or join a Division I staff as an assistant. Maybe one day his star will rise again, but only if he learns from the mistakes he made in Malibu.

| 22 Jan 08FOOTBALL SHRINK: THE PATRIOTS WILL DESTROY GIANTS, BUT THE GIANTS HAVE HOPE IF THEY CAN COPE BETTER WITH PRESSURE

PHOENIX, Jan. 23 /PRNewswire/ Dr. John F. Murray (www.JohnFMurray.com), a lic…[ Full Story ]

| 22 Jan 08FOOTBALL SHRINK: THE PATRIOTS WILL DESTROY GIANTS, BUT THE GIANTS HAVE HOPE IF THEY CAN COPE BETTER WITH PRESSURE

PHOENIX, Jan. 23 /PRNewswire/ Dr. John F. Murray (www.JohnFMurray.com), a licensed clinical and sport performance psychologist (aka the “Football Shrink,” and the “Freud of Football” by the Washington Post) provides MPI statistics to show that the New England Patriots will easily roll over the New York Giants on Super Bowl Sunday, but you may be surprised why.

The MPI analysis of performance under pressure during the Playoffs shows much better clutch performance as the reason why the Patriots will win by at least two touchdowns and become the best team in NFL history.

The Patriots annihilated the Giants in pressure offense (.590 to .467), pressure defense (.602 to .479) and total pressure (.589 to .463). This represents a huge contrast in how much better the Patriots manage critical situations in a game.

Simply put, the Patriots performed better under pressure than the Giants.

The Giants have hope only if they perform much better under pressure and the Patriots perform worse.

Since the Super Bowl stage presents the most pressure of the year, this is unlikely.

The complimentary Super Bowl numerology by “The Football Shrink,” is posted on his website: www.JohnFMurray.com. New England (.550) scored better than New York (.532) on the total MPI score throughout the playoffs, and higher than the Giants in five of seven categories.

The Patriots posted an amazing .621 to .537 advantage over the Giants on offense, but the Giants were clearly better on defense (.523 to .468) and slighter better on special teams (.605 to .598). While this normally indicates a closer game, the MPI analysis of performance under pressure tells why it won’t be.

That the Giants scored higher on defense and special teams gives them some hope for an upset.

Dr. Murray’s MPI assigns points on each play throughout the playoffs for “focused execution,” “pressure management,” and “reduction of mental errors,” and scores range from .000 to 1.000 (perfection).

The MPI’s five year record in the Super Bowl is remarkable, beating the spread 4 out of 5 years and accurately estimating relative performance each year. A summary chart of this record can be seen at: www.smartproinsight.com/mpitrackrecord.htm

Dr. Murray is available for interviews.
John F. Murray, PhD
Licensed Sport Psychologist
340 Royal Poinciana Way Suite 339J
Palm Beach, FL 33480
Telephone: 561-596-9898
Web: www.JohnFMurray.com

Dr. John F. Murray is a sports psychologist and clinical psychologist providing sports psychology and counseling services based in Palm Beach, Florida.

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