Morning Five: K-903 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on November 16th, 2011

  1. The Tip-Off Marathon has come and gone, but it wasn’t without an envious spectacle at the Champions Classic last night at Madison Square Garden. We’ve known for months that Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski‘s pursuit of his mentor Bob Knight’s career wins D-I wins record of 902 would be matched and surpassed in the first few weeks of this college basketball season. But that didn’t make it any less touching when the man known around the sports universe simply as “Coach K” went over to his former coach after the game and embraced him with a resounding thank you. We’ll have more on #903 later this morning, but if you missed the poignant moment between arguably two of the five greatest college coaches of all-time, you can view it here. If you would like to read how and why the two men became so successful teaching young men how to play this sport, Seth Davis’ masterful piece artfully gets to the core of their relationship. And if you simply want to see a worn-out but certifiably giddy Krzyzewski addressing the Duke student body after getting off the bus last night in Durham, that’s here too. No matter what you think of the man, no objective observer of this sport can make a reasonable argument that there’s anyone more deserving of this record. Nobody. Congratulations, Coach K — your contributions to this game are immeasurable — best of luck on your way to K1K.
  2. We made reference in Tuesday’s M5 to UCLA’s Reeves Nelson facing an indefinite team suspension as a result of what was termed “attitude” problems. Yesterday we learned that one of the best players in the mid-major ranks, Kennesaw State’s Markeith Cummings, has also been suspended indefinitely for conduct detrimental to his team. The preseason Atlantic Sun POY did not play at all in Monday night’s loss at Auburn, and there appears to be no timetable as to when the 6’7″ guard who consistently produces 18/6 nights may return.
  3. Perhaps it wasn’t the best day for UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero to announce such a thing, but on his weekly blog Tuesday he announced that the new Pauley Pavilion (currently under renovation) will have a statue of John Wooden constructed outside of it. The irony of UCLA announcing such a thing to honor the greatest of greats certainly isn’t lost on us at the same time Ben Howland’s current Bruin program appears to be coming apart at the seams. Not only has there been turmoil among players resulting in suspensions (Nelson) and public apologies (Josh Smith), but the primary issue is that UCLA is losing, and not only losing, but doing so badly. On the same day that Guerrero announced a terrific honor for a coach that once won 88 games in a row, his current coach’s team gave up 71% shooting (and 10-11 threes) at ‘home’ to Middle Tennessee State.  Wow.
  4. We complained about this in yesterday’s M5, and we’re happy that someone has finally taken the advertising overlords head on and decided that the safety of players on the basketball court supersedes the right of companies to peddle their products. During the Memphis-Belmont game yesterday, UM guard Chris Crawford slipped and fell awkwardly on one of the various EA Sports Maui Invitational stickers littering the FedEx Forum’s playing surface. The official’s crew of Rick Randall, Rick Hartzell and Bert Smith then made a unilateral decision that the plastic advertisements were a dangerous obstacle and ordered them removed for the rest of the game. It will be very interesting to see if the burgeoning groundswell of anti-sticker sentiment results in the NCAA making an injunctive decision to ban the ads in the name of player safety; or, if schools themselves begin threatening to sit their teams unless the stickers are removed. Regardless, this is a situation that has a feeling like change is imminent — we’d be surprised if these annoying ads make it through the rest of the pre-conference tournament season.
  5. The Kansas vs. Kentucky game last night wasn’t the prettiest sight to behold, but it did have the two programs with the most wins in college basketball history between them — Kentucky with (now) 2,054, Kansas with 2,039. This article by Brady McCullough at the KC Star (written before the game, incidentally) takes a look at the differing ways in which the two programs continue to rack up 30-win seasons year after year. The key takeaway from this piece is that recruiting, at the end of the day, is a zero-sum game. If there are only 20 five-star recruits in a given class, and one coach is harnessing three to five of them every year, that leaves a finite number for the rest. John Calipari’s move from Memphis to Lexington changed the recruiting game somewhat, and it appears that Bill Self and his Kansas program could be one of the resultant casualties of that shift.
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