Gary Parrish of CBS Sports recently sat down with UCLA coach Ben Howland and discussed the misleading negative pitches that opposing coaches use on recruits. Howland makes them play defense. His offense isn’t fun. He’s not easy to play for. Coaches trying to steer potential players away from Pauley Pavillion probably use any or all of these anti-UCLA pitches. Howland just points to the 9 former Bruins in the league and how they haven’t all been Top-10 recruits like Kevin Love who would make the league (see: Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Ryan Hollins, Darren Collison).
This got me to thinking – If those are the attacks that Howland has to defend, what negative pitches do other coaches have to deal with and what are their counter-pitches?
John Calipari, Kentucky
What they say: “Coach Cal will be looking for your replacement before you arrive on campus and will be booting you off campus before the tournament ends. He’ll act like he’s your best friend and really cares about you, but he only cares about one person: John Calipari. He’s put two schools on probation and had their Final Fours vacated before he sneaked out-of-town. You’ll be lucky if he’s there when you arrive on campus. P.S. – he’s never won the big game.”
Please come to Kentucky now...I may have to leave by 2012.
What he fires back : “I win. Period. Everywhere I have gone, I have resurrected floundering programs. But enough about me. Let’s talk about you. What’s been your dream since you were in middle school? Play in the NBA? That’s what I thought. I can make your dream a reality. Derrick Rose, John Wall, Tyreke Evans, Marcus Camby…I can go on. I’ve had five players drafted in the first round in one individual draft. FIVE. You want to get paid to play? Play for me…I mean the NBA obviously.”
Mike Krzyzewski, Duke
What they say: “How many of Coach K’s players get drafted in the lottery? How many become stars in the NBA? Sure there’s a few, but not all that many. Coach K is worried about his legacy and his program–not your future. He’ll make you do it his way or you won’t play. Plus, it’s Duke–a small private school known for smart kids. How much fun are you going to have there?”
He fires back: “Ask any player I’ve ever coached whether they regret playing at Duke. Whether they were one of the few to leave after their first season or two (William Avery, Elton Brand, Kyrie Irving, etc.), whether they were a star on a championship team, or whether they rode the bench. I guarantee you they will look back on their experience here as some of the best years of their lives. Duke is a family, and once you’re part of the family, you’ll always be part of it. And if you’re good enough to go pro, I will support you every step of the way. Just ask Kyrie Irving. And, by the way, basketball players are gods here. Trust me, there is no better place to play.”
While most college coaches have been hitting the road and attending the summer all-star recruiting camps, Mayo and I decided to give a quick run-down on a bunch of formerly sought-after recruits who will be freshmen in the fall.The 2011 Class was loaded with talent and many will become instant household-names (if they aren’t already). But we’ll also look at a couple of the more intriguing recruits and a few sleepers too.
Anthony Davis, PF, Kentucky:
Davis will give the Wildcats another weapon in the post.
I’m taking Kentucky’s Anthony Davis here. Davis is many people’s consensus #1 recruit of this year’s class, so I’m not reinventing the wheel here. Davis’ combination of size and athleticism is tantalizing, and what’s more: he’s an impact guy on both ends of the floor. What will be interesting to me is how Davis will fit in with incumbent power forward Terrence Jones, who decided to stay at Kentucky for his sophomore year. Jones’ presence might curtail some of Davis’ impact as a freshman, but there is no doubt about the talent that he brings to the table. John Calipari will have one of those good problems of figuring out how to use both effectively at the same time. (Mayo)
James McAdoo, PF, North Carolina: The McDonald’s All-American Game MVP is an athletic specimen who like Davis can dominate on offense and defense. I’ve said before that McAdoo’s joining a loaded Tar Heel team that is very deep in the front court (Zeller, Henson, Barmes); but that’s not going to prevent the explosive McAdoo from seeing the court. He’s just too talented not to. Roy Williams has had deep teams before and he usually experiments a lot during November and December before finding a rotation he likes for conference play. Expect to see McAdoo getting 25-plus minutes and a spot on the NCAA All-Freshmen Team. (Giblin)
Tony Wroten, PG, Washington: Isaiah Thomas was the key spark for the Huskies when Abdul Gady went down with an injury last year but declared early for the draft leaving a void to be filled by the powerful lefty. Washington has some depth in the backcourt but Wroten, former Husky Nate Robinson’s cousin, has the size and skills to start at the point from day 1. He’s a legit 6’4” who uses his size well and distributes the ball very well. He’ll make an immediate impact and his play will go a long way toward’s deciding the champs of the Pac-10 (12?). Any guy who crosses up John Wall this bad is going to have a BIG impact (Green #1, 0:30 mark…might want to mute that horrendous music). (Giblin)
It got me to thinking : which college players of the last 10 years would be most deserving of having a statue of some sort? Which players were the ultimate representatives of their school with their incredible play and unforgettable moments?
Here’s my list with reasons why and why not:
(Obviously there really aren’t many players in the history of the game that deserve a statue but just go with it.)
Shane Battier, Duke
Why: Where to begin with Mr. Battier? He won the Naismith and Wooden Player of the Year Awards his senior year where he led the Blue Devils to the 2001 NCAA Championship earning the Tournament MOP in the process. He exemplified the type of defense that Coach K’s best teams have had, winning 3 NABC Defensive Players of the Year Awards in the process. One of the most hated players in Duke history who received the wrath of opposing teams’ fans, but as baseball legend Reggie Jackson once said – “Fans don’t boo nobodies.”
So close! But this artist forgot about 15-20 of Shane's famous ridges.
Why Not: Duke doesn’t do the statue thing, opting to retire jerseys – Battier has his 31 retired. With so many good players, it would be tough to choose which were the best. But the real reason is simple : what sculptor could ever perfect Battier’s imperfect ridges? His head is like a Ruffles potato. No one would attempt it.
Carmelo Anthony, Syracuse
Why : Pretty much single-handedly took the Orange to the 2003 NCAA championship (ok, Hakeem Warrick gets a little credit). In their run to the championship, Melo led Syracuse in points, rebounds, minutes played, field goals, and free throws. He was simply dominant and rewarded Jim Boeheim with his only National Championship.
Why not: He played one season at Syracuse. He dominated but you can’t get a statue for one season.
Highly rated shooting guard P.J. Hairston made his decision to attend North Carolina over rival Duke undoubtedly for multiple reasons. One in particular, though, was fairly surprising given the aura and profile of Coach K’s program: they kept spelling his name wrong in recruiting letters!
It just goes to show you how mechanical and robotic the recruiting process can be for all college sports. Millions upon millions of letters get sent out to potential recruits starting early on in high school. If you have the right size and weight and build, you can bet you will get some initial letter inquiries expressing interest in your services. It is surprising, though, that Hairston, being the high profile recruit that he is, ran into these issues. You would think that after weeding out the pretenders, schools like Duke wouldn’t have issues like this with guys they are targeting; though, it also begs the question of how seriously they were considering him if they didn’t check their spelling.
It reminds me of a story I was told about current Georgetown guard Markel Starks’ recruiting process. Starks was very highly recruited out of Georgetown Preparatory School, and one night he was attending a function with his coach where he spotted the head coach of one of the programs that was most aggressively recruiting him.
His coach said, “Go up and introduce yourself and say hello.”
So he did. When he came back to his coach, he said, “That guy had no idea who I was.” And, in that moment, Starks, who knew that John Thompson III knew very well who he was, had his mind made up about where he was going to school.
With the NBA draft lottery results ready to be announced Tuesday night, the fates of top overall prospects Kyrie Irving and Derrick Williams will be known. We’ve already looked at both Williams and Irving as NBA prospects and clearly think they can be All-Stars at the next level; but one prospect really doesn’t stand above the other.
While some NBA draft’s have had a can’t miss prospect that will be the number 1 pick no matter who wins the lottery (Patrick Ewing, Tim Duncan, LeBron James, Kwame Browne), the winner of this year’s draft lottery will likely pick based on need. More specifically, if they have their point guard of the future – the team will pick Derrick Williams. If not, Kyrie’s their man.
Derrick Williams and Kyrie Irving's destinations will be determined Tuesday.
Let’s breakdown the team’s likely choice based on their odds of winning the lottery starting with the team with the best odds: David Kahn’s Minnesota Timberwolves.
Every Month March : After the ACC won the first ten Challenges, the Big Ten has broken through these past 2 years and taken the title. Why did it take so long for the Big Ten to break through? The Big Ten’s had some great teams in the early part of the decade so was it just bad luck and tough matchups? Did the ACC expansion and recent coaching turnover help break the trend these past couple of years?
BT Powerhouse : The Big Ten has always had a tough time with the ACC. The Big Ten has been thrown in tough match ups year in and year out. It is true that the Big Ten has some great teams early in the decade but, the rest of the Big Ten wasn’t great. In the last couple years it has been that case in the ACC, there are a couple great teams and the rest of the ACC is weak. The ACC and Big Ten swapped places in that retrospect the last two years.
EMM : Looking ahead to next year’s potential matchups, what would your top couple of dream matchups be? Put yourself in charge of the schedule. No rotating schedules. No rules or restrictions. You choose who, what, when, where, etc. Anything goes.
BTP : Next year, my two dream match ups would be North Carolina at Ohio State and Duke at Purdue. North Carolina at Ohio State would be interesting because they are two young teams who are very much on the rise. It would be definitely be a show. I would also like to see Duke at Purdue because Purdue has had a history of getting beat by Duke as of late. It seems like Duke knocks them out every time they play. With Purdue’s Robbie Hummel finally coming back to the hardwood, it would be interesting to see him take out his anger on Duke one more time on his home floor as he would try one last time to beat the Blue Devils.
EMM : What would be the best individual matchups to watch next year in perfect Challenge? Jared Sullinger going up against the Carolina front court has to be on the top of your list right?
BTP : Jared Sullinger against the UNC front court is at the top of my list. It would be interesting to see what Jared Sullinger could do against them. Also, I would like to see how a Big Ten defense handles that UNC front court. My other top individual match up would be Purdue’s Robbie Hummel against Duke’s Plumlee twins.
Sullinger against the Carolina frontcourt would be must-see TV.
EMM : The other BCS conferences all piggybacked off the Challenge and created their own versions. If you had to replace the ACC as the Big Ten’s counterpart for the next 10 years, which conference would you choose and why?
BTP : I would pick the Big East because Big Ten fans are always given a hard time by Big East fans. The last couple years the Big Ten has been expected to be the best conference in the country at the beginning of the year and the Big East has overtaken us, as far as rankings go. To see us finally battle it out for a true champion, would be a sight.
EMM : Last one, give us your prediction of what the pairings will be? And give us a waaaaaaay too early prediction for each matchup?
**Update**- I didn’t see that the B1G released the home teams a month ago. Michigan and Indiana will be on the road again while Nebraska and Minnesota will have home games. Sorry for the mistake.
B1G Home Games
Boston College at Iowa, B1G Win
Duke at Ohio State, B1G Win
Wake Forest at Michigan, B1G Win
Virginia Tech at Michigan State, B1G Win
Florida State at Purdue, B1G Win
Clemson at Indiana, B1G Win
ACC Home Games
Nebraska at Georgia Tech, ACC Win
Wisconsin at North Carolina, ACC Win
Minnesota at NC State, ACC Win
Illinois at Maryland, B1G Win
Northwestern at Miami, ACC Win
Penn State at Virginia, ACC Win
B1G Wins 7-5
EMM: Big thanks to BT Powerhouse! We’re already looking forward to next year’s Challenge.
Murph wrote a piece about the 2011 UConn team being a bad national champion, maybe the worst ever. That got me thinking about who the best national championship teams are and which ones leave you scratching your head. No I’m not going to rank every champ in college basketball history, but I will rank the Naismith Trophy winners since 2000. Here we go:
1. 2001 Duke
Yes, it pains me to put Duke at the top of this list, but this team was simply stacked. It will always be a sad yet rarely talked about shame that we didn’t get to see what Jason Williams’ pro career would have been because he was an all-time great college player for Coach K. Besides Williams, that Duke team had two guys in Mike Dunleavy and Carlos Boozer who would have been the best players on a lot of the teams that Duke beat that year.
2. 2006/2007 Florida
It was tough not to rank the Gators’ dynasty numero uno, but they don’t fall too far down the list. Not only did this two-year title winner have great talent, but they had guys who completely bought in and embraced their roles. Al Horford was the option #1 on the offensive end; Joakim Noah was an all-time great energy guy; Corey Brewer was the playmaker on the outside and guarded the other team’s best wing; Lee Humphries was the gunner; and Taurean Green was the floor leader and distributer. Defending a national championship is nearly impossible, and these guys did it.
3. 2009 North Carolina
I really appreciated the way this UNC team played the game. Ty Lawson was simply always the fastest man on the floor and he may have been UNC’s title team MVP, despite the fact that Tyler Hansborough got more pub. Speaking of Hansborough, it never hurts when your best player also doubles as your hardest worker on the court. Throw in Wayne Ellington, Danny Green, Deon Thompson, and a young Ed Davis, and you have a team that mixed extreme toughness with extreme talent. No wonder they didn’t win by less than twelve points in any game of the ’09 tournament.
4. 2004 Connecticut
The ’03-’04 Huskies team may have been hurt in these rankings by their playing in one of the most uninteresting national title games in history…well, until this year. But, this team was talented and deep. It was nearly impossible to score in the paint against the likes of Wooden Award winner Emeka Okafor and Charlie Villanueva, and their then-sophomore backups of Josh Boone and Hilton Armstrong weren’t too shabby either. Ben Gordon could score with anyone, and Marcus Williams was a solid, steady point guard. This team had seven guys who would eventually be drafted, six of which were first round picks.
5. 2008 Kansas
Kansas played in one of the better national championship games we’ve had in the last decade or so, and a good case can likely be made for moving them up this list because of how deep they were. Mario Chalmers, Darrell Arthur, Brandon Rush, and Cole Aldrich all became first-round picks, and don’t forget about a young Sherron Collins and big bangers like Sasha Kaun and Darnell Jackson who provided invaluable toughness. Oh yeah, and beating a guy like Derrick Rose in the title game even though he was only a freshman at the time is no small feat.
6. 2003 Syracuse
Speaking of freshmen, Carmelo Anthony’s ’03 Syracuse team slides in at number six on this list. Anthony may have only been a first year player, but ‘Cuse fans were always confident that they had the best player on the court when their team took the floor that season. Anthony teamed with Gerry McNamara, who would later become a Big East Tournament legend, and Hakim Warrick. This team didn’t have the depth that some of the others on this list did, but a lot can be made up when you have a stud like Anthony on your squad.
7. 2002 Maryland
Gary Williams will eternally be grateful to guys like Juan Dixon and Lonny Baxter and co. for getting him to his first Final Four in ’01 and then winning the whole thing the next year in ’02. This team didn’t quite have the star power of some of the teams ahead of them on this list, but they were truly a great college team. Dixon and Baxter were the headliners, but the Terps also trotted out guys like Chris Wilcox, who left a year too early but was one of the most athletic players in the country at the time, Steve Blake, the ultimate floor general, and glue guys like Byron Mouton and Tahj Holden. They didn’t play in a great championship game, defeating Jared Jeffries’ Indiana team, but a historic team in Maryland hoops history, nonetheless.
8. 2005 North Carolina
You’ll notice that most of the teams on this list were experienced teams with a good deal of depth. Not all, but most. The ’05 Carolina championship team was no different. Their trio of juniors–Raymond Felton, Rashad McCants, and Sean May–were the backbone of Roy Williams’ first championship squad at the Dean Dome, but don’t forget that senior Jawad Williams and junior David Noel were big-time contributors as well, especially on the defensive end. Oh yeah, and how about the number two overall pick of that year’s draft coming off the bench, in Marvin Williams. This Tar Heel squad beat a one-loss, Deron Williams-led Illinois team in the finals to cap off their great run.
9. 2000 Michigan State
Possibly the toughest team on this list, the 2000 Michigan State Spartans personified what college basketball used to be all about. There wasn’t a ton of star-power on this team, but they were a veteran team that would do anything to win. Mateen Cleaves will forever be a Spartan legend for his toughness throughout his career, but especially in the championship game where he played almost the whole second half on a sprained ankle and won the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player Award. Morris Peterson teamed with Cleaves on the MSU team that proved to be able to play any kind of style, winning their Final Four game over Wisconsin, 51-41, and then ramping up the pace in the finals to beat Florida, 89-76.
10. 2010 Duke
Last year’s national champs come in towards the bottom of this list because of their lack of star-power, but this team won with balance and with guys who didn’t mind not being the go-to guy as long as Duke won. Sure, Nolan Smith, Kyle Singler, and Jon Scheyer were the players people will remember from this team, but it was the effort of role players like Brian Zoubek, Lance Thomas, and the Plumlee brothers off the bench, that really brought home the 2010 title for Coach K. A bit of a favorable draw didn’t hurt, either.
11. 2011 Connecticut
Murph, I don’t know about the worst champions ever, but you were certainly on the right track thinking that this past season’s UConn team had to have been the worst champs in recent memory. This team simply got hot at the right time in an admittedly down-year for college basketball. What Kemba Walker did to lead this team all the way was certainly an impressive feat, regardless of what the college basketball climate was, but let’s be honest, this team would have gotten crushed by nine of the ten other teams on this list, and possibly all ten. You can’t take much away from this year’s champs–they won the games down when they really mattered–but something tells me that this team is going to remain at the bottom of this list at least for the next few years.