Gregg Marshall wants everyone to understand what “play angry” means.
Marshall’s Wichita State basketball team adopted that mantra during the most recent season, which ended with the Shockers advancing to the Final Four. In the process, Marshall and Wichita State became national sensations.
The coach moved to Wichita State six years ago after leading Winthrop for nine seasons. At Winthrop, he won 81 percent of the Eagles’ Big South Conference games and seven conference tournament championships.
“Play angry to me means you play with more passion than the team that’s opposite you,” Marshall said Saturday night after being inducted into Winthrop’s Sports Hall of Fame. “You compete harder than the opposition. That you have more energy every single day than the person going against you, and you want to be the absolute best and you want to win every time you go out.”
He challenged a crowd of more than 250 at the DiGiorgio Campus Center to adopt the same attitude. Teachers should “teach angry,” ministers should “preach angry,” and leaders should “lead angry.” And he challenged Winthrop fans to “cheer angry when you come into the doors of the Winthrop Coliseum.”
Marshall was one of six people inducted into the Winthrop Sports Hall of Fame Saturday night. The others were:
• Winthrop President Anthony DiGiorgio, who is retiring this year after 24 years as president.
• Vali Arnason, a men’s soccer player from the class of 2004 who was a three-time All-Big South Conference first-team selection and the 2001 Player of the Year.
• Darrlyn Alexander, a softball player from the class of 1984 who was a 1984 NAIA All-American softball selection. She compiled a 61-17 career pitching record.
• Jason Colson, a baseball player from the class of 2001 who holds the Big South career home run record.
• Stephanie Morris, a basketball player from the class of 1986 who is the school’s fifth-all-time leading scorer and who holds the single-game scoring record at 37 points
• Lisa Mullins, a volleyball player from the class of 1991 who was the Big South Conference 1987 Player of the Year and who still holds the school record for highest single-season hitting percentage and career blocks.
Marshall said he couldn’t believe the improvements made at the Winthrop Coliseum since he left for Wichita State after the 2006-2007 season. He called the facility “one of the best in the country.”
In challenging the fans, Marshall said “the players will play angry and I know the coaching staff will coach angry, and ultimately we will all win angry.”
DiGiorgio was honored for his support of athletics throughout his 24 years as president. During his tenure, Winthrop has won 52 conference championships.
DiGiorgio said when he arrived at Winthrop in 1989, athletics “had a ways to go.”
Hurricane Hugo had made a mess of the Winthrop farm area, site of many of the school’s athletic facilities. About half of the coaches handled two sports and a third were part-time coaches.
No sports field had lights, and the softball and baseball teams played on “uneven” fields with temporary bleachers.
“Through the tenacity, the creativity, and the persistence of a bunch of us, you know the rest of that story.”
Many of Winthrop’s facilities have been recognized as among the best in South Carolina and the Big South Conference.
By improving facilities and increasing investment in athletics, Winthrop became a pacesetter for the Big South Conference. While he’ll take “a little” credit for having an idea, vision and persistence, “the real progress, the real change, the real achievements all came from partnerships.”
The partnerships included working with athletics director Tom Hickman for more than two decades, “a cadre of extraordinarily talented coaches,” the athletics department staff, supporters and fans.
“I’ve likened my tenure here with athletics to kind of like raising a child,” DiGiorgio said. “And what has been so much fun is to raise this child into a thirty-something that is a mature adult that can now stand on its own.”
Paul Osmundson • 803-329-4061