That’s Debatable: Coaches Giving ThanksPosted by rtmsf on November 24th, 2009
Each week RTC will posit a That’s Debatable question or topic that is relevant to the world of college basketball. Sometimes whimsical, sometimes serious, we’ll post the thoughts of our core editing crew (in 200 words or less), but we’ll also be expanding to include our contributors and correspondents as appropriate throughout the season. We also invite you, the readers, to join us as we mull over some of the questions facing the game today. Feel free to send us your takes and/or leave them in the comments below.
This Week’s Topic: Thanksgiving week is upon us, and families everywhere around the country will come together to give thanks for the numerous people and things important to them. What will some of the nation’s top college basketball coaches give thanks for during this week of reflection and thought?
nvr1983 – editor/contributor, RTC
One of the people who should be thankful this Thanksgiving is Thad Matta. When last season ended two of his players were contemplating leaving school early to go to the NBA: B.J. Mullens and Evan Turner. While Mullens was the more highly rated recruit, he hadn’t quite lived up to those expectations. Although Turner was no slouch in high school (he was a 4-star recruit), he didn’t come to Columbus with the same expectations. By the end of last season, both players we predicted to be mid- to late-first round picks. As you all know Mullens decided to leave school early and ended up being selected #24 overall by the Mavericks before being traded to the Thunder where he is averaging 3 PPG and 1 RPG in 15.8 MPG. Turner decided to stay in Columbus for at least one more season and is the early favorite for National Player of the Year after starting the season averaging 21.8 PPG (on 59% FG), 14.8 RPG, 6 APG, and 1.8 SPG for the Buckeyes. If Mullens had stayed and Turner had left OSU wouldn’t be a top 25 team, but because the roles were reversed they could be a top 10 team.
rtmsf – editor/contributor, RTC
While many coaches across the land will give thanks this week for a top recruit or a big win or still having a paying job, BYU coach Dave Rose will be thankful that he’s still around to coach his team. You see, on June 17 of last summer, Rose was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and as far as pancreatic cancers go, his wasn’t the worst kind, but seeing those two words together (“pancreatic” and “cancer”) is never a good thing. He had emergency surgery the very next day to remove part of his spleen and pancreas, and after a quick recovery, he now sits as the head coach of a strong 3-0 team with aspirations to win the Mountain West and make some noise in this year’s NCAA Tournament. Oh, and did I mention that all tests show that he is completely cancer-free? BYU feels so highly about Rose that the school gave him a 5-year extension through the 2014 season, showing their faith in both his coaching acumen as well as his health. There’s no greater gift than the one of life, and Rose is undoubtedly living each day as if it were his last — now that’s something to be thankful for!
zach hayes – editor/contributor, RTC
Before John Calipari digs into his Thanksgiving feast this holiday season, he should send thanks the way of Billy Gillispie. Without the former Kentucky head man’s total collapse at the helm — from forgetting to teach defense to quarreling with ESPN reporters to repeated DUIs — Gillispie may still be roaming the sidelines at Rupp Arena desperately trying to bring his Wildcats back from obscurity. This would mean John Calipari would still be the head coach at Memphis mired in the shadow of his second significant NCAA scandal with repeated questions on the incident causing a monumental distraction. With Gillispie out of the way, Calipari is free as the king of Lexington, winning with five-star recruits and Gillispie holdovers like Patrick Patterson and Darius Miller. Had Gillispie not been so incompetent on and off the floor, his large buyout clause may have given him another chance in 2009-10 while Calipari would have been unable to escape the lingering stench of the Derrick Rose scandal in Memphis.
john stevens – editor/contributor, RTC
I’m going with Todd Bozeman giving thanks for second chances. You probably remember Bozeman as the 29-year old wunderkind who took over at California in 1993 when Lou Campanelli was fired. With only ten games remaining on the schedule, Bozeman took the reins and became the youngest coach to take a team to the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16, scoring a second-round win over Duke. Just two years later, Bozeman recruited Jelani Gardner and paid his parents about $30,000 so they could travel to see him play. When Gardner tanked, the parents got ticked and ratted Bozeman out to the NCAA. Gardner fled to Pepperdine, but in 1996 Bozeman was effectively banned from coaching NCAA basketball for eight years. In 2006, Morgan State took a chance on him and are certainly happy so far. Last year, the Bears won the MEAC and they’re the popular pick to do it again this season. Bozeman, whose squad traveled to Louisville and played the Cardinals close on Sunday, has spoken often of his appreciation for another chance to be a teacher of young men, which any coach will tell you is the best part of the job.