Morning Five: 08.13.12 EditionPosted by rtmsf on August 13th, 2012
- The buzz throughout the sport over the weekend was directly attributable to the Friday release of the latest in CBSSports.com‘s Critical Coaches series, this time squarely taking aim at the perception of the coaches responsible for the most wrongdoing within the game. In other words, who is perceived as the biggest cheater(s) in college basketball? The results at the top — Kentucky’s John Calipari (36%) and Baylor’s Scott Drew (34%) — are completely unsurprising in that fan perception in this regard probably isn’t markedly different than those of the coaches, but in reality you probably could have simply switched out the question with “Who is the best recruiter in the game today?” and gotten the same result. Proxies notwithstanding, the guys at CBS asked the question they did for a reason, and they’ve spent the intervening three days getting blasted by media and fans alike. A sampling: Mike DeCourcy lays into the coaches for answering the question in the first place (“disgraceful… tacky…”); Kentucky Sports Radio summarizes it succinctly as such, “Haters Gonna Hate”; BaylorFans.com commenter JXL sarcastically notes “if a school was bad and then becomes good, they are by definition cheating“; UCLA’s Bruins Nation calls the poll “ridiculous and insulting” for it’s choice of Ben Howland as the third-worst offender (12%). We could go on with this, but we’ll stop right there. The perception is the perception because once narratives are constructed in the public consciousness, they’re awfully difficult to change; while on the flip side, fans will defend their guy regardless of what comes out against them. Assuming they’re winning, of course — they have to keep winning.
- In much more uplifting news over the weekend, Team USA’s men’s basketball team won its second straight gold medal on Sunday by defeating a pesky Spanish team by the final score of 107-100. This team, led by the gleaming supernovas of LeBron James, Kobe Bryant , Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant, wasn’t as dominant as their Dream Team forebears two decades ago, but they were equally instrumental in rebuilding the American basketball brand after the colossal disappointment at the Athens Games in 2004. The other name that deserves as much credit as anyone in restoring USA basketball to the top over the last seven years since he came on board is someone who did not even receive a medal: head coach Mike Krzyzewski. Coach K announced prior to the game against Spain that the gold medal match would be his last game as Team USA’s coach, and that proclamation perhaps inspired the 65-year old to jump for joy as the Americans wrapped up the championship in the waning moments yesterday. It’s back to Durham full-time for the Duke head coach as he tries to finish off a superlative career with a fifth national title, but as usual, he performed his job impeccably during his tenure as the man in charge. Thank you for helping to restore American pride in basketball, Coach K.
- It’s hard to believe now, but when Krzyzewski took the Team USA job in 2005, more than a few commentators who cover the sport thought that K might be making a mistake with respect to his Blue Devils. The theory then was that his involvement with USA Basketball (particularly during the summers) would take him away from the recruiting trail and allow other programs to make inroads on Duke while he was focused elsewhere. That seems somewhat silly after Duke cut the nets down in 2010 for K’s fourth national title and the top recruits keep rolling in, but is it possible that Krzyzewski could get enjoy even more of a halo effect from the ubiquitous images of him high-fiving and embracing the very best basketball players in the world? Mike Kline at DukeReport.com thinks so, and it’s hard to disagree. Elite recruits care about two things — 1) getting to the NBA, and 2) coolness. Coach K has always had a tremendous amount of the former, but with the association with the winning ways he instituted with Team USA, he also has plenty of the latter.
- It’s now only 60 days until Midnight Madness, which means coaches are already carefully examining their schedules to find any possible advantage heading into the 2012-13 season. Like Krzyzewski, Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim has been busy as an assistant coach for Team USA too, but he already has some ideas about how to prepare his Orange squad for its season opening game — the Battle of the Midway — against San Diego State. The Veterans Day tip-off for both teams will take place on the USS Midway in San Diego Bay (similar to last year’s Carrier Classic on the USS Carl Vinson), and Boeheim is determined to prepare for the possibility of wind and other elements by having his team practice and run some drills outdoors. We’re guessing that whatever weather conditions the Orange players face in October in upstate New York will more than prepare them for anything balmy San Diego has to offer.
- We’ll have more on this later today, but over the weekend brand new Villanova assistant coach Doug Martin was forced to resign based upon certain “inaccuracies” on his resume. The primary point of contention is that Martin had claimed that he played college basketball from 1991-95 under legendary coach Dick Bennett at Wisconsin-Green Bay. Dana O’Neil’s cursory fact-checking on the matter quickly revealed that neither UWGB nor Bennett had any record or recollection of Martin at the school, and in fact, he may have actually played limited minutes at a Wisconsin NAIA school called Viterbo instead. It begs the question, though. Surely Martin’s hiring at Villanova was not contingent on having played for Bennett at Green Bay, so why not correct the resume before submitting it — that’s a fairly impressive job to obtain only to lose it over something that seems so inconsequential.