Sunday, 18 September 2011 6,453 Views / 145 Comments
Dindo Pumaren took over as head coach of De la Salle University in 2010 with a winning tradition running through his veins. After all, brothers Derek and Franz were responsible for coaching all seven of the Green Archers’ UAAP championships. Dindo was hopeful that he would not only add to that stash but somehow erase the memory of never winning one for his alma mater as a player in the 1980s.
Unfortunately, even as Dindo entered with the pride of the past and promise for the future, the present disagreed with him completely. Thus, after a troubled two year stint, the youngest Pumaren has resigned as DLSU’s head coach and the university has accepted it “with deep regret”.
Quite likely, nobody has a deeper regret over the past two seasons than Dindo Pumaren himself. His arrival was greeted with genuine hope and optimism albeit in the shadow of his very popular Kuya. Succeeding Franz Pumaren, who is arguably the most successful DLSU coach in the history of the school, Dindo was expected to build upon what his brother had put together year in and year out: a proud, intimidating, and fearless squad of hard-nosed workhorses who understood their roles and made use of their superior basketball skills to the hilt. Alas, that expectation shall never come to pass now.
In his first year as coach, Dindo successfully carried his team back into the Final Four. Although anything short of a championship is unacceptable for many La Sallians, he was given a reprieve of sorts. It was, after all, his rookie season, and he was missing a good player or two who could plug some of the holes found in Season 73’s team.
After a summer of rebuilding and recruitment, this year was supposed to be the start of DLSU’s next dynasty with a mix of talented holdovers and promising rookies. Prized freshmen from last season — Jarelan Tampus, Luigi de la Paz, Almond Vosotros — had a year of experience tucked under their belts. Their perceived weakness from last year — their ceiling — was taken care of with the additions of Norbert Torres and Arnold Van Opstal. And Simon Atkins was all pumped up to make his final tour of duty with the team in green a successful one. But for some reason, it just didn’t come together, and DLSU found themselves shut out of the league’s top four again.
It almost seemed like La Salle fans could tell they were in for a rough season. As early as the middle of the first round, many were already asking for the heads of every member of the coaching staff by making some pretty vicious claims:
- Tonichi Yturri never provided the proper big man coaching to the likes of Van Opstal and Torres, with some even claiming that they would have developed into much better players if put under the tutelage of (gasp!) arch-rival Ateneo’s head coach Norman Black.
- Jack Santiago was merely a glorified cheerleader on the bench who stands and shouts empty instructions every now and then.
- And Dindo? His rotations were so scattered and unpredictable that he never allowed the players to gain enough confidence in their abilities to succeed.
It’s one thing to be ridiculed by the opposition. But you know there is something terribly wrong if the biting criticism is being hurled at you from within your own home. In the end, there was nothing left to salvage. By the sound of the final buzzer of their 14th game of the season, it was clear that Dindo had lost the respect of the fans and the confidence of his players. As is the case at the end of many a mediocre season, it’s the coach that ultimately got the boot.
La Salle’s lackluster performance over the past few seasons has been painful to watch for long-time UAAP fans such as me. But for now, I guess we will all have to accept two very surprising realities. Fact #1: for only the second time in nineteen years, DLSU will not be part of the UAAP playoffs. And fact #2: for the first time in nearly fifteen, next season, the Green Archers will not have a head coach who goes by the name Pumaren.