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Lessons Learned

November 30, 2011
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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Redshirt senior guard David Minaya (center) went from averaging 3.1 ppg in 2009-10 to leading the Flames in scoring with 12.7 ppg, this season.

The following article first appeared in issue No. 1 of the Flames Illustrated game program for the 2011-12 basketball season, which was available at the Vines Center between Nov. 11-22. Heading into Thursday's game against Campbell, David Minaya leads the Flames is scoring, averaging 12.7 points per game.

"In the doghouse" is a phrase used by coaches and wives alike. Figuratively speaking, the dwelling of a canine is never a place where neither athletes nor husbands want to be.

As a redshirt sophomore, playing his first season at Liberty, David Minaya found himself in such a metaphorical abode that was owned by head coach Dale Layer.

"Two years ago he was a starter," Layer said about Minaya who is now a senior. "Two years minus about two months he was in my doghouse. He started out very talented but a little bit overweight. He worked enough just to get by and got by on his talent."

Minaya saw action in 29 games in the 2010 season, averaging 11.8 minutes a game. He recorded a 3.1 scoring average, hitting 33 percent of his shots (33 for 100) and collecting a 1.8 rebound average, eight assists and 26 turnovers.

"I didn't think he would ever come out of it, to be honest with you," said Layer. "I didn't think I would ever give him another chance. We broke for summer break, and I had nothing to do him for two months."

It has been pointed out in previous stories that Minaya went back to "what matters." Minaya's rededication started in the offseason after the 2010 campaign, and he hasn't stopped.

"He came back last year in the best shape of his life," said Layer. "He just willed himself into getting into shape, getting to where he was tough enough to play for me and has been at that level for the last 14 months. He has been a vocal leader. He has been an encourager. I am very proud of him."

Last season Minaya improved his scoring average to 10.7 points a game. He was a more consistent outside shooter, hitting 41.5 percent from the field.

Minaya posted double scoring figures in 20 contests, including a streak of nine straight games during conference play. He led the Flames with a career-high 22 points on 9-of-13 shooting in the 100-82 win against VMI and tallied 19 points in an overtime victory against UNC Asheville.

"From a personal standpoint, it was frustrating," Minaya said about residing in Layer's doghouse. "Now, looking back and seeing why I was going through that, I am grateful. Coach Layer thought I should be playing at a certain level, and I wasn't performing to that level."

Now Minaya has a valuable life lesson that can be an asset for encouraging teammates who may be struggling.

"He overcame the poor performance of his sophomore year. Now he is able to help others who go through adversity," Layer noted. "He can tell teammates, ‘Hey I did that. I was struggling. I lost my confidence, and I fought back by getting in the gym and going to work.'"

"I use his story when I talk to other guys who are struggling," Layer said. "I will say, ‘That's where David was two years ago. David went to work. What are you going to do?' He's always been an unbelievably good kid, but now he is a good kid who has grown up to be a man."

Liberty begins the season without the squad's two leading scorers from last year. Evan Gordan transferred, and John Brown suffered a knee injury that will force him to miss the entire season. This means Layer will expect more from of his one-time doghouse dweller.

"David should be our leading scorer," Layer said. "He has been our leading scorer so far in the preseason. He can score different ways. He has been doing other things to allow him to stay on the floor when his shot is not dropping. He can play probably three different positions. He can be a mismatch problem probably anywhere on the floor."

In spite of LU's offseason setbacks, Minaya believes the squad will benefit this season from their summer international tour. The Flames spent nine days in Europe, visiting parts of Belgium, France and Switzerland. Liberty played in six exhibition games, collecting a 4-2 record.

"The trip to Europe really helped us in many aspects," Minaya said. "Players were more acclimated. We know more about each other's game. This experience gave us a step ahead going into this season."
Minaya has confidence in his teammates, and he expects the Flames to have a successful season.

"We have some guys who can put the ball in the basket," he said. "It's going to come down to getting rebounds and playing defense. We have capable defenders, and we have guys in the post who can really step up. If we can all play to the way we are capable, I think we will have a really good year."

This season won't be the end of basketball for Minaya. Layer believes the senior will play professionally somewhere, and Minaya definitely has basketball in mind for his career aspirations.

"I love the game, and I want to play as long as I can," Minaya said. "When I am done playing I would love to get into coaching somewhere, whether it's high school or college. I want to be around the game. It's something I've enjoyed since I picked up a ball at the age of three. I know I'd be happy teaching other people the game of basketball. Whatever I can do to stay involved in the game I'm willing to do."

If coaching is in Minaya's future, he definitely will understand the value of placing one of his players in his doghouse.

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Chris Doyle is a freelance writer for Liberty Athletics