When Matthew-Alexander Moncreiffe arrived in Stillwater from Canada, coach Mike Boynton thought Moncriffe "spoke a different language" when it came to defense.
“He understands now that defense is a part of the game, it’s actually a real thing and that if he doesn’t try to play some of it then he won’t play much for us,” Boynton said.
Since Boynton arrived on campus, he has had the players wear practice shorts that have the word ‘defense’ printed on the back of them, but Moncreiffe didn’t buy into those shorts at first.
Now he’s beginning to learn the ropes of Boynton’s culture.
“He’s got all the physical tools, it’s not an ability problem at all,” Boynton said. “You’ve got to admit there’s a problem first before you can fix it. If you don’t identify that the word defense exists, even if it’s written on the butt of his shorts, it didn’t make sense.”
“He was trying to figure out why that was on his shorts instead of dunk, I guess”
Now, after about a month of practicing Moncrieffe has improved his defense, he still has a long way to go to reach Boynton’s expectation for the team.
“I’m proud of him because as much as he didn’t know, he was willing to learn and he listens,” Boynton said. “He’s still got a long way to go. If I was grading him, he wouldn’t get high marks, but I think we’re speaking the same language now.”
Moncrieffe noticed that in the first two weeks he wasn’t following through the whole defensive possession and didn’t engage with the play from start to finish, but in the last couple of weeks, he’s focused on improving that aspect of his game.
“Something I was really bad at the first couple of weeks was staying engaged the whole defensive drive,” Moncreiffe said. “I felt like once I was done on the ball, my job was done. So I feel like the last couple of weeks, just staying engaged when I’m off the ball, while I’m in help and just talking the whole possession out is where I’ve really grown.”
Moncrieffe has something a lot of people don't: an unique combination of attributes Boynton can see the potential in if Moncreiffe will buy into the defensive side of the game.
“He’s got good long term potential because he’s got a unique combination of size, length, strength and athleticism, and now, it’s just the will and understanding of the concepts and schemes that he has to get caught up on,” Boynton said.
Perfection is possible in sports, but he is working to get as close as he can with the potential that he has.
“It’s a process,” Moncrieffe said. “I’m not going to be perfect everyday, but I feel like I’ve made great strides toward it.”