Backdoor Cuts: Vol. VIPosted by rtmsf on January 6th, 2010
Backdoor Cuts is a college basketball discussion between RTC correspondents Dave Zeitlin, Steve Moore and Mike Walsh. This week the unathletic threesome decide to live vicariously through their unborn sons. You don’t want to miss it.
MIKE WALSH: Papa Zeitlin is handing me the keys to the column this week. Like a teenager with a learner’s permit, I’ll try not to crash this thing into the neighbor’s mailbox.
Speaking of teenagers, (Creepiest. Segue. Ever.) have you guys seen the SportsCenter commercial where LSU football coach Les Miles recruits a new anchor? Granted, collegiate football and hoops are different beasts, but it made me wonder what it would be like to be blue chipper with his pick of colleges. Being that my athletic abilities never made it out of the shallow end of the Walsh family gene pool, I’ll have to live vicariously through my kids someday. So I might as well figure out where they’re going to be playing college hoops now, before they’re even a twinkle in my eye, right?
Here’s the question: What college basketball coach would you feel most comfortable entrusting your kid to? I’ll give you both a minute to let the dry heaves caused by the mere thought of parenthood subside, and then we’ll go on from there … everyone with me?
For me, I think the job of coaching little Carlos would go to Mark Few. His basketball chops have raised Gonzaga from the ranks of the mid-majors to a perennial tournament threat. He’s not getting a ton McDonald’s All-Americans from year to year, but his results are always Super Sized. On top of the Xs and Os, Few seems to be a stand-up guy. When the Zags’ second leading scorer and top rebounder Josh Heytvelt was arrested in 2007 on drug charges, he didn’t see the hardwood for the rest of the season. Think that would happen to the Big Man on Campus elsewhere? Athletes being held accountable for their actions? Absurd!
So that’s it, my kid-to-be-named-later is headed to the Pacific Northwest. And if he could get a nickname like Sasquatch or Bigfoot, that would be awesome too.
Where are Zeitlin Jr. and Mini-Moore headed?
DAVE ZEITLIN: First of all, it’s a little scary we are all now closer to being a parent than from our days in college. But I’m ready for it. I plan on giving my son a musical crib toy that plays Gus Johnson clips over and over for his first birthday (Do they make those? They should.) and then working on bounce passes at least eight hours a day from the age of two on. My kid will either hate me but then become a star athlete in spite of me or reject the sport until a voice tells him to build a corn field — which will in turn bring him closer to the sport I love and also to me after I die. Isn’t that how it works? (I’m just kidding, by the way. Please don’t take my son away before he’s born, Child Services. Also, Lauren, don’t read this.)
So if my son is a star basketball player (which is a pretty enormous “if” considering he will be Jewish and very likely short), there are a few requirements I’d have before sending him off to college:
–First, can the coach be kind of a nice guy? If he does decide to lock my son in a shed, I’d prefer it to be something that’s the size of a two-car garage, not a one-car garage. And sorry Bob Knight, I don’t really want my kid to be choked. In the case of assault, please aim for something that doesn’t involve a person’s ability to speak for the rest of his life.
–Secondly, I would prefer if my kid went to class and actually graduated. As much as I appreciate Bob Huggins’ effort to save parents’ money on book costs, reading and learning are kind of cool things. Coaches should encourage it, not mock it. (Mike, I can now hear the St. Joes’ “Nerds” chant reverberating through my head.)
–And finally, I’d want him to coach at a good academic school that also has a shot to make the NCAA Tournament year in and year out. I mean, I cry watching “One Shining Moment” as it is. If I see my son in those highlights, I may spontaneously combust.
So where does that leave me? Of the coaches I’ve dealt with, Jay Wright and Fran Dunphy certainly fit the bill but I’m assuming my kid will want to move away from my iron-clad rule in Philadelphia. Fran O’Hanlon at Lafayette is a very good guy and Bill Carmody at Northwestern seems that way too, but neither make the Tourney on a regular basis. Like Mike, I love the mid-majors but since this whole column is a dream anyway, I might as well dream further and imagine my son will play at at big-time school. John Beilein at Michigan and Ben Howland at UCLA make the short list, but I think as my No. 1 choice I’m going to go with … Roy Williams.
In addition to being one of the best coaches of our generation, Williams really seems to be a good guy. Sure, as someone in the media, it stung a little bit to see him throw a fit to a reporter after Kansas lost to Syracuse in the 2003 finals, but he only did that because he cared about his players. Plus, his Coke commercial is quite endearing.
And who wouldn’t want to see their kid sticking it to Coach K a couple times a year. Here’s to dreamin’, right?
STEVE MOORE: First of all, I thank Mike for a great topic. But if anyone knew what the three of us looked like, they’d laugh at the thought of our kids playing Division I college hoops.
Before I get to my choice, I have to comment on your picks. I have been a big Mark Few fan for a long time, and have been a fan of Gonzaga since Dan Dickau roamed the streets of Spokane. If Mike hadn’t beaten me to it, this would have likely been my choice. Not only is Gonzaga a great school for your kid — the romance of a mid-major, but with national appeal, and less pressure than the real big boys. And Few has stuck it out in Spokane, despite constantly being rumored with “bigger” jobs.
As for Roy Williams…seriously, Dave? Personally, I think the guy has all the shmoozing sliminess of Calipari and Huggins, but hidden behind a facade that makes people think he’s a friendly Grandpa. Yes, his players seem to stay out of trouble, and UNC is a great academic school, but personally I wouldn’t want to send my son there. Too much pressure, and too many bright lights that would get to his head in a hurry.
Now, onto baby Tyler (I thought he looked like a Carlos, too). I thought about Lorenzo Romar in Washington, who seems to have his head on straight (plus, Mike and I could plan trips to the Pacific Northwest). I thought about staying with my earlier Temple allegiance, since no one has ever said a bad word about Fran Dunphy. But I want to see my son get away from home, and give me an excuse to travel. I even thought about Tommy Amaker and Harvard — but I’d like to see a few NCAA Tournament games.
My choice? Sean Miller at the University of Arizona.
During his time at Xavier, I was a huge fan of the Musketeers. They played hard all the time, were a force to be reckoned with in the Big Dance, and never seemed to have any sort of off-court issues. If he was still at Xavier, I still would have considered it — but who wants to go to school in Cincinnati? Honestly.
Now, Tucson on the other hand? I guess you could twist my arm into leaving ice-cold Philadelphia for Arizona in the middle of January or February. Plus, Arizona seems like the perfect basketball setting. Miller is starting from scratch and creating his own legacy at Arizona after taking over form Lute Olson. They have the reputation of a big-time program, along with loyal fans who won’t turn on the team after a few bad losses. The pressure is lighter, the sun is brighter, and the program is on its way up (plus, the Pac-10 stinks).
DAVE ZEITLIN: Little Mikey may have been able to back the car out of the driveway, but he decided he needed me to get us back into the garage. So here are the finishing touches:
I like the choices of Few and Miller, even if both have regularly screwed me in the NCAA tournament. Sean, you had No. 1 Ohio State beat — what happened?? Didn’t you care I picked you when every other schmuck in an office pool had Greg Oden’s crew in the final four? And let the record show it was Dan Monson, not Few, who led Gonzaga on their magical run to the Elite Eight in 1999.
But I’m a little taken aback that both Steve and the acclaimed editor of this web site think Roy Williams is an unlikable phony. I guess I’m missing something. Serves me right for going against my mid-major roots and reaching for the stars. My son probably wouldn’t have played at UNC anyway. Can I change my pick? Is it too late? Are there any rules? Is anybody listening to me?
Well, I’m changing it. My son will join your kids in the west because he’s going to play under Craig Robinson at Oregon State. In addition to coming from the Ivy League and sharing the same name as the dude that plays Darryl in the Office, he’d also be able to introduce me to his brother-in-law, who is kind of a big deal. And let’s be honest: my kid will probably be more interested in politics than sports anyway.