As practices go, it could have been harder, could have lasted longer, but with his team having played less than 24 hours before and with another big game two days away, you can understand why Winthrop coach Randy Peele didn't hammer his team late Wednesday afternoon.
There was reason for the hammer to come out. On Tuesday night, the Eagles lost a game they shouldn't have lost to Mount St. Mary's, a nice little team that has neither Winthrop's talent nor the depth.
The loss stuck in Peele's craw, not so much because it was a defeat, but because of how the defeat was allowed to happen. The Eagles didn't put out a lot of effort, especially in the first half, and at the end, when they needed to make a game-deciding play on the defensive end, they couldn't produce.
In the locker room afterward, senior forward Taj McCullough called it "the worst loss" he ever experienced.
"What we have to understand is we used to be the hunter," McCullough said. "Now, we're the hunted."
After getting back to their hotel in Gettysburg, Pa., the team and coaching staff met for more than two hours before they all went to bed. Peele said he had trouble sleeping because of the trucks whizzing by on the interstate, but it's more likely he had trouble sleeping because he kept seeing the Mountaineers' Chris Vann or Jeremy Goode whizzing by his defense for an open jumper.
And it's the defensive part of his team's game that has him most concerned.
Before the Eagles went on the Winthrop Coliseum court for about an hour's work on Wednesday, they spent more than an hour in the team room watching tape -- 41 clips from the Mount St. Mary's game, not many of them good ones.
The 41 clips came from just the first half.
"Right now," Peele said, "we aren't stopping anybody. We've got to get back to who we are. Our identity is we've been able to guard."
The Eagles have dominated the defensive and rebounding stats in the Big South Conference for nine years. That's why they've won seven titles.
"Our ID? Right now, we don't have one," he said.
After starting and stopping and starting and stopping all those clips, it was off to the practice floor where Peele conducted a couple of drills that tested toughness more than anything else.
He had assistant coach Larry Dixon stand at the free throw line and catch a pass. The players had to close out on Dixon, who would then stick a shoulder into their chest. They were to draw the "charge." Now Dixon, if you've seen him, is not a small man. Even fake shoulders to the chest can leave a mark.
When the player hit the floor, Dixon rolled the ball to the other end and the player had to sprint and dive on the ball. Some dived better than others. Some left skid marks. Several got up rubbing their elbows and knees.
Peele even got into it at one point, driving at players, sticking an elbow in their chests.
Nobody complained. They got up and ran the drill. Ran it again if they had to.
With a disappointing 5-5 record (although not many teams would be 5-5 against the schedule they've played), Peele is searching for a spark, something to call and "ID." Oh, the Eagles have had their moments. Had some of them at Mount St. Mary's. They just haven't had enough of them.
As I watched the drills on Wednesday, I kept thinking about two players no longer around -- Torrell Martin and De'Andre Adams. It was the kind of drill that would have started their juices bubbling, because it was the kind of drill that brings out the fire in the belly.
And to me, that's what this team lacks. Call it a leader or some other basketball term.
It needs someone to take hold of the role of yeller, screamer, jersey grabber, back slapper.
Someone with passion that shows in the right way.
This team's not missing athletes or scorers and rebounders. It's missing a player or two to attack egos, demand that someone make a play.
In his four seasons, Martin made some big ones and his teammates fed off of them. Adams made some too, and had he not been taken away from us too soon, would have been the guy this season getting in someone's face when it was necessary. The Mount St. Mary's game was a De'Andre Adams kind of game.
Maybe that brief practice was the first step toward finding that player or players who yanks this team up by the shorts and says "come with me."
There was a taste of that in the last five minutes of the Akron game, when the Eagles came from 10 down to win. Michael Jenkins and Chris Gaynor got after it on defense and everyone else joined in.
So, it's there. Peele's just got to figure a way to get the passion to the surface and keep it there consistently.
During the film session he also challenged his players.
"I need to know if you're in or out," he said, meaning he wanted to know who was buying into what they were doing and who wasn't. He suggested anyone who wasn't interested to drop by and see him.
"Your maturity tells you you're in," he said, "when things aren't necessarily going too well, when things are hard or it's too tough."
From the looks of the bodies hitting the floor on Wednesday, everyone was buying in.
But the performance during games is the real test, and Old Dominion comes in on Friday. The Monarchs are the third quality opponent the Eagles have faced at home, the others being Missouri State and Akron. Missouri State beat the Eagles, erasing a 22-point deficit, when the Eagles didn't sustain their effort. They beat Akron when the effort was turned up to the boiling point.
Old Dominion is better and bigger than both of those teams.
But in years past, bigger and better teams never seemed to matter with the Eagles. They just packed their passion and intensity and figured they were good enough to win.
Right now, the passion's missing.