tampabay.com

Off the bench and into coach's good graces

By JOE SMITH
Published March 1, 2007


LAKELAND - Lakewood junior Sean Johnson took one big step out of his coach's "doghouse" Wednesday night.

The 6-foot-2 guard sparked the Spartans off the bench in their 57-44 semifinal victory, tallying five rebounds and three assists in 11 minutes.

With four Lakewood starters saddled with two first-half fouls, Johnson's smart, steady play symbolized the Spartans' strength this season - their bench. It also may have earned Johnson a few more minutes on the biggest stage: Friday's state title game against Lake Howell.

"He played real aggressive," Lakewood coach Dan Wright said. "He gave us a reason to keep him in there."

Earlier in the season, that wasn't always the case. Johnson, who has played sparingly in 18 of Lakewood's 29 games, approached Wright a while back, asking him why he wasn't getting on the floor.

Quipped Wright: "You're not giving me anything. You're not giving that intensity."

Johnson responded in recent weeks, and, in return, he's giving some much-needed minutes.

Both for himself - and the Spartans.