CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Capital boys basketball coach Carl Clark looked somewhat out of place on the bench during the Cougars' 90-77 loss at Winfield last week.
It wasn't that Clark was sitting in a different seat than usual, and he wasn't wearing anything out of the ordinary for the veteran coach who is closing in on his 300th career victory at the school.
What was unusual about Clark during the course of the loss was his demeanor. While the Generals repeatedly hit open 3-point shots and maintained control of the game throughout, Clark looked more like a teacher giving a lesson than a coach fearful of losing a game.
His corrections were calm, his reactions subdued. It looked as if what was playing out was all part of a grand plan that had little to do with beating Winfield.
Clark confirmed as much afterward.
"That's about what we're doing. It's practice time," Clark said.
He noted that after the game - Capital's 10th of the season - his team had conducted fewer practice sessions during the regular season than it had played games.
"We spent a whole ballgame tonight trying to tell people where they're supposed to be, moving them around and such," Clark said.
"We don't have really an opportunity to really coach because we're teaching as we go along."
Capital (9-3) was ranked sixth in last week's Associated Press Class AAA poll. The Cougars rebounded from the loss with convincing wins over struggling Ripley and Parkersburg. Up next is a rematch of a mutual season opener with George Washington (11-4), scheduled for Wednesday at Capital.
The Cougars have still played fewer games than any team in the Kanawha Valley, a result of repeated school closings from poor weather and water contamination.
Still, Clark and Capital are doing something correctly. They are currently one win short of tying their total for the 2012-13 season, when largely the same lineup finished 10-15.
Fine-tuning his team's man-to-man defense to avoid foul trouble will be key going forward in the final three weeks of the regular season. The team's second-leading scorer is junior guard Jordan Kinney, who averages 12.5 points a game but fouled out of two games last week, including the loss at Winfield.
Senior Carrington Morris, the team's leading scorer at 20.5 ppg, also fouled out against the Generals.
"When we play man-to-man, we get a lot of fouls called on us," Clark said. "Other teams play man-to-man and our kids get in foul trouble. Other teams are aggressive and play pressure defense, but don't get a lot of fouls called on them."
Clark enters the week with 294 career wins, six shy of becoming the 10th coach in Kanawha Valley history to reach the 300-win mark.