Monday, September 30, 2019

Tony's proverb

"First comes discipline, then comes freedom." "You have to build the habits as an individual player and a team, and then there's freedom to do things." Thus says Virginia head coach Tony Bennett.

I suppose you might paraphrase his proverb, "You play the right way, or you don't play."


Davidson is the textbook on how to build a perennial winner below the Power Conference level. Get a good coach, and get him to stay. Davidson got Bob McKillop in 1989 and he has been there ever since. It is the only place he has ever been a college head coach. He liked it, and he stayed. And he has won 578 games along the way.

Friday, September 27, 2019

The sleeze trickles down

Calipari never got investigated, but it always seemed to be a few months after he left. Josh Pastner was his assistant at Memphis, now at Georgia Tech, and guess what? Georgia Tech is banned from post-season. 

We talk about the "family trees" of successful coaches. Calipari has one like every one else. Is anyone surprised that his turns out to be a little slimy?

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Would you have guessed this?

According to Street and Smith's, Duke, Gonzaga, Kansas, Michigan State, and North Carolina - and one other school - have this in common. What is it? They are the only schools to have appeared in the past nine NCAA tournaments. That is a fairly exclusive group. (Notice Kentucky's absence?) Who is that other team? Cincinnati. No wonder UCLA nabbed their coach.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

An illusion

No, Kentucky and John Sleezipari do not win the national championship every other year. They won in 2012, but that has been Kentucky's only championship since 1998. We think they surely must have a whole case full of trophies, but there is just that one. They bring in lots of high-powered recruits who undoubtedly sell tickets, and win lots of games, but they have not won "lots" of championships, at least not recently. It is just an illusion. I wonder when Kentucky fans will begin to see through the farce.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

He has his work cut out

Ron Hunter went from SBC powerhouse Georgia State to Tulane, which, on top of everything else, has had to recover from a hurricane, and hasn't done so. Street and Smith's picks them last in the AAC. Hunter obviously has his work cut out for him, but he had to have known that going in. I hope he got an assurance from the AD that he had plenty of time to get the job done, especially since he has to go against the likes of Memphis, Cincinnati, Houston and Wichita State.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Fairly simple

"Eighty percent of the game is that you have to play hard, play smart and play together. Then, it's a matter of talent and strategy."  (New UCLA head coach Mick Cronin)

Friday, September 20, 2019

"Old" wins

Every year, some media outlets cover themselves in drool over the latest five-star phenoms who gather together. Fabulous freshmen such as Duke's Zion Williamson last season dominate the airwaves and web pages from November through February. Once March comes, the teams that have created environments that serve a consistent ethos - one that players adopt and demonstrate as they stick around for two, three and even four years and pass on to the next generation - tend to take home the big prize. Or, as Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann puts it: "Old wins."

(Michael Bradley, in Street and Smith's)

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Watch for the size of the rotation

Darrell Walker was very successful at bringing in size quickly to Little Rock, both on the perimeter and inside. In fact, we only have two scholarship players under 6-5. However, three of the most experienced players on the team will be Ryan Pippins, Jaizec Lottie, and Markquis Nowell (due to the large number of minutes he played last season). If the three of them are collectively averaging a ton of minutes, then the short guys are still on the court, and the tall guys are on the bench, and all that recruiting did not amount to much, at least so far.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Could be enjoyable for fans of old style basketball

Busting Brackets says that Georgetown has the best crew of  big men in the Big East. They also just happen to have a head coach who was one of the best big men ever. Now, not all doers are teachers, but they at least have a leg up in having done it. Patrick Ewing was one of the best, and he was taught by one of the best. Now we hear that he has some of the best on his roster. It might be an enjoyable combination to watch.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Bennett turns down his raise

The more I see of this guy, the more I like him. He turned down a raise in his new contract, and asked that the money be used to pay his staff more and for other improvements within the department. 

“[My wife] Laurel and I are in a great spot, and in the past, I’ve had increases in my contract,” Bennett said in a statement. “I have more than enough, and if there are ways that this can help out the athletic department, the other programs and coaches, by not tying up so much [in men’s basketball], that’s my desire.”

Monday, September 16, 2019

Watch the drama at Georgetown

There is a very nice story line developing in Washington, DC. All-time great Patrick Ewing returns to his alma mater to don the mantle of the Thompsons there, to try to restore the program to its glory years in the brutally tough Big East. He starts slowly, but has gained speed each year. Now he is to the point where we find out if he can really coach. He has a talented pair of sophomore guards who might be among the best in the country IF they can be as good as they are fancy. Can a coach from the pros accomplish that? He has some big men to work with, and if anyone knows big men, it ought to be Ewing, who developed under arguably the best big man coach in college basketball. The pieces are coming together, but can Ewing take them from "potentially" to "really are"?

Sunday, September 15, 2019

When fans face a moral dilemma

It would be nice if teams we hate only hired coaches we hate. However, it does not always work that way. Sometimes teams we hate hire coaches we really like, or vice versa. What would I do it Kentucky hired Tony Bennett, for example. That would take some soul-searching. Of course, the team will always be there, and I can come back to it after the coach inevitably leaves, for one reason or another.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

"Just assume" coaches

There are certain coaches that we have come to assume will be in the hunt for a national title every year, either because they are good at gathering talent, or at teaching talent, or occasionally both. However, there is only room for so many of those "assume" coaches. Really, to qualify I would say you have to be in the Sweet 16 more often than not, and not many coaches do that. Sure, a few of them have enough talent that they ought to be able to do that with their eyes closed, but not too many. Some of them are such brilliant basketball teachers that they seem to be able to do that no matter what sort of talent they have, but not too many.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Record year for blocks?

The most blocks we have had since 1979 is 125 in 2014. Given the size we have this season, we ought to be able to give that mark a run for its money. Seems logical.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Tough enough?

Tom Izzo's Michigan State Spartans pretty much define the basketball term "tough." Hard-nosed. Physical. They are the consensus pick to win it all this season, and the main reason is point guard Cassius Winston.

Winston started all 39 games last season, averaging 33.5 minutes per game. He is an excellent shooter, had an outstanding 2.55 assist/turnover ratio, and led the team in steals. His pre-season MVP credentials are very solid. As is always the case with teams in the hunt for a national title, toughness enters into it, both physical and mental. At times Winston will have to carry MSU on his shoulders. He will be tough, without question. Will he be tough enough?

Monday, September 9, 2019

Unintended consequence

At least in Arkansas, the 3-point line is ridiculously close. And with the movement of the college line this season, it will be even "closer," relatively speaking. That will make evaluation of high school shooters just a little bit harder, since they will shooting from that much closer than they will be in college.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Consensus favorite

Some seasons there are several favorites for the national title, but this year Michigan State appears to have the front-runner slot all to itself. A veteran team under a hall-of-fame coach and a proven floor leader: all the elements are there. Plus MSU has that hard-nosed, physical style that takes it to the other team. It is hard not to like them.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Which of our recruits is the sleeper?

Alsean Evans
Marko Lukic
Jovan Stulic
Ben Coupet
Isaiah Palermo
Ruot Monyyong
Admir Besovic
Sam Dunkum

Those are the new names on the roster. Who is the sleeper in that group? Well, a sleeper is by definition an unexpected result, so we probably could not list any of the 3-stars there.

I am going to say Alsean Evans. He is a juco so he ought to have a little more maturity. Plus he was advertised as a good defender, which we badly need.

Friday, September 6, 2019

"How many starters returning?"

I used to ask this question when I did my pre-season predictions, and I leaned heavily on it. Granted, if those starters are not very good, then the fact that they are returning does not mean too much. However, in this age of one-and-done and constant transfers, it means something. And it means more with each passing year as the situation gets worth. Having someone who has a year in our system and who has been through the wars is a big deal anymore.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Sorry, Andy, you got it wrong

Hold on, Andy Katz, one year of Zion Williamson does not qualify him for an All-Decade team. There were plenty of players who were not quite as good as he was, but who played for three or four years; and that automatically makes their performance better than his. 4 X 2 equals more than 1 X 4.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

The pieces are there

Walker has done a good job of recruiting. He got a high-powered point guard and greatly increased the height of the team up and down the roster. Now he just has to get the job done. It would be a crying shame if he were to fail because he couldn't coach. I do not think that will be the case. But DW cannot be a "Daddy" to these kids, not matter what their home life has been like. He has to be the coach, the CEO of the team. He has to give directives and then follow up to make sure they are followed. Step One is done; now we have to learn if we can walk.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Top recruits? So what?

So you bring in a one-and-done player? What have you gained? For one thing, whatever you have is for only one year. You get no long-term value, and then you have to expend all that energy and money all over again. Second, it is very likely that you brought in an ego with the talent. There may be some character issues that you had to overlook in order to get the talent.

My point is that talent is not everything. It is the team that is going to win, not the player. So, the player's contribution toward winning, all things considered, needs to be the biggest net positive. So, you have to factor in character and work ethic. You have to factor in how good a teammate he is going to be. Then you have to evaluate him according to how effective he is going to be in your particular system. What Beard requires in his system are not going to be the same things that Huggy Bear requires.

When all those factors get factored into the player's evaluation, it may turn out that a three star net out better than the higher-ranked players. Plus, the three-star may stay for four years. Plus, if he is a coachable kid, the three-star may actually improve during his stay at your school. I think that the factors I have mention, plus others, are the reason that the two teams we saw in the NCAA finals last season were not nearly the most talented teams in the tournament - but they were the best teams. It is not about the best recruits; it is about the best recruits for you.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Foreign hats

This year's version of the Stetson Hatters roster has six players over 6-6. Five of those six come from foreign countries: Mali, Ivory Coast, France, Congo, and Canada. Someone at the Florida school had some connections overseas, I would say. Interestingly, none of the players 6-6 or shorter is of foreign citizenship.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Discrimination against smaller schools

In the "Candid Coaches" feature on the CBS site, they just did a poll of coaches on the question, "What is your No. 1 issue with the selection process?" Fully 32% said mid-major discrimination, far ahead of second place. Here are a couple of quotes that stood out:

"Scheduling is incredibly different for us. We are trying to play anyone and everyone, and we can't get any games. We have been told no by essentially every high-major in the country with the exception of the ones we are playing. Makes it very difficult for a school like us to get an at-large bid."

"As a mid-major assistant my biggest gripe is mid-major leagues getting one bid. They probably have to find a way to get regular-season champions into the NCAA Tournament."