Morning Five: 06.10.11 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on June 10th, 2011

  1. When Bryce Drew was chosen to succeed his father Homer at Valparaiso a little less than a month ago, he became the fifth head coach in the Horizon League currently in his 30s. We’re always intrigued to hear how coaches who are barely ten years older than many of their players are able to come across more as authority figures and less as contemporaries, and it brings up another question: with the current generation of players, is it better to be an old seasoned coach chock-full of wisdom that comes from time and experience who’s better at recruiting the parents as well as the players, or is it more advantageous to be perceived as a young “up-and-comer” who knows how to use Twitter, Facebook, and get up for a chest-bump? The two things aren’t mutually exclusive, and it will be interesting to see if the most successful coaches over the next 5-10 years are guys who are hybrids of those two options.
  2. With two teams leaving and four new coaches arriving, you might think the non-conference schedules of Big 12 teams might suffer a little next season. Um, think again. Texas goes to UCLA in early December. Kansas has games against no less than Kentucky and Ohio State, and will play in a Maui Invitational that’s more stacked than Sofia Vergara. Oklahoma State’s taking to the road to play an improved Alabama side as well as scheduling a prickly one at Missouri State. The list goes on. In short, the overall strength-of-schedule numbers (for what they’re worth) for the conference may elevate to Big East levels next season.
  3. Now that Patrick Chambers has gotten the shards of glass out of his neck (we’re still in disbelief) and finds himself as the honcho at Penn State, we’re betting he’s spent about 99% of his time performing the single most important task that will help him bring some pride back to the Nittany Lions — recruiting. But in addition to getting prospects to care enough about the place to attend it, until the wins start rolling in he’s also got to get fans to care enough about the program to get behind it. Chambers was a marketing major, and it’s time to put that training to good use.
  4. When we were younger and our copies of Sports Illustrated would arrive in the mail, it was always a highlight of the week. One of the first things we (and most college basketball fans) would do is flip straight to any stories on college basketball, of course. If there was one in there written by Alexander Wolff, it always meant that much more. We grew up reading his stuff, and his skill as a chronicler and storyteller of college basketball contributed massively to what we know about the game today and how much we still love it. It was announced on Thursday that the Basketball Hall of Fame has awarded Mr. Wolff (as well as Jim Durham, former voice of the Dallas Mavericks and Chicago Bulls, and current NBA broadcaster for ESPN radio) its top media honor, the Curt Gowdy Media Award. It doesn’t even seem like our place to say it, but we will anyway: congratulations, sir. And thank you.
  5. In early 2010, right after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, Kentucky’s John Calipari and a group of eleven other people created a telethon called Hoops for Haiti that was broadcast on local television in Lexington. Calipari helped host the event, Wildcat players answered phones, and viewers called in to donate money or bid on auctioned items. Donations came in not just from within the borders of Kentucky (though the majority did), but indeed, from all across the nation. In a deep economic recession, the efforts of Calipari and his crew raised an incredible amount in excess of $1.3 million in aid to Haiti. Mind you, that’s more than the entire nations of Sweden ($850,000), India ($1 million), or China ($1 million) are each reported to have given. The folks who came up with this — including the Kentucky head coach — have been nominated for a regional Emmy award. A basketball coach has never been nominated for an Emmy, let alone won one — until now.
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Props From The Prez

Posted by jstevrtc on January 26th, 2010

A few hours before their game at South Carolina this evening — you’re sure to see a clip of this on ESPN’s coverage and probably on SportsCenter — John Calipari and his Kentucky team were summoned to the phone for a call from a fairly famous fan of college basketballPresident Barack Obama.  The call was one of gratitude to Calipari and his boys as a result of their efforts in helping to raise over a million dollars in aid money (that dinner with Ashley Judd at Calipari’s house going for a hundred grand didn’t hurt) through Calipari’s Hoops For Haiti initiative.

I spent my college years like a great number of people who are fortunate enough to get to go at all.  You know, organizing my schedule so I didn’t have to get up before 2 PM, eating a lot of pizza, hitting on co-eds, doing the Greek thing, maximizing my time in pubs and on golf courses, that kind of thing.  And that’s when I wasn’t watching college basketball, or tapes (yes, freaking VHS tapes) of games in the off-season.  One thing I wasn’t doing was taking calls from the President and joking with him about how we needed to play horse or how I’d hopefully get to chill with him in the summer.  Of course, I wasn’t raising over a million bucks for natural disasters with a group of my friends, either, so there we are.  Despite their status as BMOCs on the Lexington campus — and pretty much the rest of the state save for small parts of Louisville — even that can’t compare with conversations with world leaders, especially when they’re giving you some serious props.  You can see some nerves on the part of the players, and definitely from John Calipari.

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It’s Official: Kentucky’s On Fire, and Babies Love DeMarcus Cousins

Posted by jstevrtc on January 19th, 2010

Since you obviously love college basketball, you’re probably aware of some of the goings-on involving a few of the more storied programs in the game: Kansas lost their #1 ranking a couple of weekends ago and some players are said to be unsure of their roles on the team; North Carolina has dropped three straight and just barely managed to stay in the latest Top 25; Connecticut looks bewildered and is out of the rankings; despite having a brilliant coach, this is one of the worst UCLA teams in our lifetime; and just last night, Texas lost at Kansas State, and, after enjoying it for only two polls, will likely drop from the first #1-ranking they’ve ever had.

Meanwhile, in Lexington, John Calipari is defecating bars of gold.  OK, I know — we can’t prove that.  But would you be surprised?  In the last several days, the University of Kentucky basketball team (and anything having to do with it) has enjoyed a tidal wave of positive energy of which there is no rival in recent memory.  Let us relive the recent days of the Kentucky program, shall we?

Strong work, sir.

First — and there’s only one place to start this list — there was the Hoops For Haiti telethon that Calipari came up with and threw together in a matter of just a few days.  This past Sunday, on local Lexington television station WKYT (who donated their own studio time, eschewing commercials), Calipari and some personalities from the station emceed while members of the Kentucky squad sat behind them and took telephone pledges.  Even after the players were relieved of their posts, the phones kept ringing and the pledges kept coming in, largely because part of the deal here was that every pledge would be matched, or doubled, by a group called Cal’s Pals For Haiti.  Several names from the world of college hoops called in and donated, including Dick Vitale, Texas head coach Rick Barnes (the irony!), Jim Boeheim (who was reportedly pretty funny), and Cincinnati Bengals coach (and NFL Coach of the Year) Marvin LewisAshley Judd, a UK alum — like you didn’t know that — made a taped appearance, but is responsible for a few things in the accompanying auction.  In a textbook display of class, ex-UK coach Tubby Smith called in to the show and made a live donation.  We at RTC don’t really get mushy over stuff, but this feat is impressive, to say the least.  Kentucky is the 44th-wealthiest state in the country, and though it has all classes represented among its populace, it’s safe to say that in several cases people who called in and donated money could not afford to, but still did. With the matching funds, so far, the venture has raised over a million dollars.

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