Wednesday, May 22, 2013
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CHEERING THE BULLDOGS: Lawrence coach Mike McGee celebrates as time runs out at the end of game against Edward Little in the Eastern Class A semifinals last month at the Augusta Civic Center. Lawrence beat Edward Little and moved onto the regional final against Hampden, which the Broncos won on a last-second 30-foot shot.
Staff file photo by Joe Phelan
WINNING WAYS: Lawrence boys basketball coach Mike McGee retired with 350 wins, five Eastern Maine Class A titles and two state championships.
Staff photo by David Leaming
TL: To leave after this season wasn't a spur of the moment decision for you. You said, I think, four years ago, that this would be it. What made you decide this was going to be the last one?
MM: For about 10 years, I've been talking about it, and just trying to pick the right time. I had Spencer's group in the eighth grade, and knew they were loaded with basketball players and kids that were dedicated. Teaching junior high, you've always had kids who were 'Hey, Coach. I can't wait to play for you.' So you know you've got to cut it off somewhere. When you've been doing it for so long, it's going to be a big change for the program, so you want to be fair to everyone.
I just knew that this group played the game the way I coach it, and it had a great set of parents. You couldn't ask for a better set of parents this year. We all know about the parent horror stories all over the state, and all over the country, but this group played the game, played tenacious, hard-nosed defense, ball security, smart basketball. And their parents let me coach. It was just a great way to go out. Some of the parents, I had in class 30 years ago. I knew some of them. I just thought this was the best group to cut it off.
I started with a special freshman named Troy Scott, and ended with a special freshman named Spencer Carey.
TL: Did you ever consider changing your mind? Did you ever say, 'Well, maybe I have a couple more in me?'
MM: This summer, when Xavier moved, and I saw the chemistry with Xavier and the kids. You're fresh in the summer. You're tan. There are no black circles (under your eyes). You're rested. You're on vacation, so to speak. That's probably the only time.
But once the grind of the season started, getting back on the bus, all of the stuff you go through. The late nights. You get to school at 6:30 (a.m.) and get home at 10:30 (p.m.) when you play at Bangor. Then I knew it was the right decision.
You know, the bottom line is, I'm tired of being tired. Like I said at the banquet (Tuesday) night, I apologized to the underclassmen. I said 'I'm not running out on you guys, but my tank is empty right now.'
If you could take a sabbatical, and have a year off, I might come back. Lawrence is where I belong. It's a special place. It's a great fit. But you can't take a sabbatical, and who knows what I'll do after I have a year or two off? Everyone knows I'm born to coach. It's in my blood, but right now, this tank is empty.
TL: You guys have been known for years for the defensive style. Talk about the evolution of the Lawrence defense.
MM: It was stated at the banquet last night by Elon Firmage and Jason Pellerin, Lawrence, and no one will ever question, is a football school. The football kids during football, really from July to November, don't do any skill work. We don't have the most skilled players, but what we have is the toughest kids around. I think that was very evident this tournament, that our mental and physical toughness carried us almost to a championship.
I said, when I first came in, because our football team is always contending for a championship, we're going to have to be tough. We're going to come out late. We're going to be behind everybody by two weeks. Our skill set and our legs aren't going to be up to par, so we've got to play the best defense that we can.
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