Gilbert rebounds for Constitution after heart-to-heart with coach

Posted: March 14, 2014

SOMETIMES, the best teacher is defeat. Well, that and maybe a heart-to-heart with your head coach.

Ahmad "J.R." Gilbert wanted to win the Public League championship so badly that the junior found himself mired in a funk after Constitution lost to Martin Luther King, which claimed its first Pub title at the Generals' expense Feb. 23 at the Temple's Liacouras Center.

On one of the city's brightest stages, Gilbert struggled offensively (six points on 3-for-16, 0-for-7 from three). And even though he made significant contributions elsewhere (11 boards, three blocks), he still took the loss personally.

"When we lost to King, my confidence was down," Gilbert said yesterday at the Generals practice at Ben Franklin. "I thought I couldn't play basketball anymore. I thought I wasn't that good. And at that championship game, I had a lot of fans. People were coming to watch me play."

And the 6-6 wing, one of the city's top talents, struggled to put the loss to bed.

"When I came to practice, I brought negative energy," he said. "I wasn't talking to anybody and wasn't talking on defense. I wasn't playing on offense. I was passive and chilling back on defense. I was just doing things that showed that I didn't want to play basketball anymore."

In fact, Gilbert netted only 24 points in the Generals' previous three games before Wednesday's PIAA Class AA second-rounder against District 2 No. 3 Mid Valley. The sought-after and sweet-shooting lefty erupted for 26 points and 10 rebounds in that one.

The remedy: a sit-down with coach Rob Moore at Moore's home, not far from Franklin.

"It really helped me when me and Rob sat down together and talked out our problems," Gilbert said. "He just told me that when I bring a lot of positive energy, the team brings a lot of positive energy."

Last week, Gilbert sat the entire first quarter of the Generals' first-round victory against Columbia after missing a practice. Several teammates also missed or were late for practices that week and also lost playing time/starting spots.

Gilbert said yesterday he didn't have transportation to that practice, but accepted that "me being a leader, I still should have found a way."

He also heaped praise on his teammates for picking up the slack, and expressed excitement for tomorrow's quarterfinal rematch with Holy Cross (2-2), which bested ConHigh in the quarters last season.

He also singled out Moore and his mother, Tanya, for getting him back on track.

"Like Rob and my mom said, LeBron James loses, Kevin Durant loses," Gilbert said. "NBA players lose and college players lose, but it's about what you're going to do [after]. Are you gonna to get back up or are you gonna let life knock you down? I guess [Wednesday] I picked it back up where I had it all season."

Dan the Man

Years ago, a pair of former Philadelphia High School basketball snipers met; years later, they produced another.

Dan Corr is currently a junior deep threat for La Salle High and also son of Kate and Jack. The family matriarch played at Cardinal O'Hara, while Dad played at Archbishop Carroll.

And the award for best shooter goes to . . . ?

"When we're hitting the gym, [Dad is] mostly hitting his shots, so I must get it from him," Dan said yesterday during La Salle's shootaround. "Although, my mom also played and she claims I got my shot from her."

Soooo . . .

"You know what, I think Mom has to take that one!" Corr said, laughing. "As open shots go, Mom's got it, I think."

Now that that is settled . . .

Corr is a 6-1 reserve for the Explorers, who came back to beat Cedar Crest, 49-43, in overtime on Wednesday. La Salle overcame a nine-point deficit in the final 6:32 of regulation to force overtime after a David Krmpotich basket.

In OT, Dan did what Corrs do by hitting from the outside. His three in front of the La Salle bench gave the Explorers a 36-35 lead they wouldn't relinquish. It was also his only basket of the game, important for a team that wants to keep the score low and make every possession significant.

"Obviously, when I get in the game, it's hopefully to get my shot off," Corr said. "I'm looking for three-balls anytime I get in, but I think I'm playing my best when I'm active defensively as well."

La Salle coach Joe Dempsey said Corr has been shooting well lately and hopes it continues during tomorrow's Class AAAA quarterfinal game against Lower Merion, which knocked off Roman Catholic.

"Once you get in the game it's just muscle memory," Corr said. "You could have the worst warm-up of your life, but once you get in the game you could be strokin' and it doesn't matter."

So how have his recent pregame sessions been?

"They've been pretty good actually," he said, smiling. "I've been shooting pretty well in the state tournament, and, hopefully, I'll just keep it going."

As for the family, Corr hopes to attend Notre Dame like his father and three older siblings before him (he is the youngest of six). With that in mind, he is enrolled in five advanced placement courses, with engineering or the medical sciences on his mind for college.

"This season has been tough," he said. "Practicing 2 to 3 hours, 6 days a week and then going home and doing 3 hours of homework. But, you don't come to La Salle just to play basketball. You come to hopefully get into a good college as well."

On Twitter: @AceCarterDN

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