Sunday, April 6, 2008

Sunday morning thoughts

Still smiling about Carolina's humiliating defeat last night, thank you Kansas. Thinking about the tournament in general.

-The most unexpectedly impressive player I saw yesterday was Cole Aldrich from Kansas, and teammate Sherron Collins provided a huge energy boost during the Jayhawks' first half blitz. In the other game Derrick Rose and Chris Douglas-Roberts were the expected big stars for Memphis. Where are they from? Big Ten country.

Rose and Collins are from Chicago, Aldrich from the Twin Cities, and CDR from Detroit. Kansas has long taken guys from Big Ten states - Julian Wright, Kirk Hinrich, and Nick Collison come to mind - and lots of good players leave Detroit and Minneapolis as well. Maybe if Michigan and Minnesota did a better job building a wall around their home states instead of chasing recruits from elsewhere, they wouldn't have fallen so far.

-It seems that Marquette is seriously considering promoting assistant coach Buzz Williams to the head job in the wake of Tom Crean's departure for Indiana. I think this would be a bad move. Beyond the absurdity of having a head coach named Buzz, promoting assistant coaches to ensure recruiting stability is seldom a good idea. You've got to pick the best coach available, period, not the one who'll placate your recruits.

Remember how Stan van Gundy turned out in Madison? Yeah, he got Sam Okey to come to UW, but in the meantime he flopped miserably coaching the Rashard Griffith-Michael Finley team, and Okey couldn't coexist with Dick Bennett.

It worked pretty well for Kansas State this year with Frank Martin's promotion ensuring Michael Beasley came to Manhattan. But none of Marquette's recruits is in the same league as Beasley (few would be). Marquette should do what's best for the long-term health of its program, not cater to the whims of an 18-year-old in New Jersey.

-Chris West writes a terrific blog about Wisconsin college basketball, and this post nicely summarizes the Marquette situation.

-If MU does choose Williams, it'll be interesting to see how that affects their Midwest recruiting, as most of the Gold's recent commitments have come from different regions. Highly-regarded high schoolers, but not ones they're competing with us for. Will they still butt heads with us for Jamil Wilson and Evan Anderson? Or will they be chasing some kid we've never heard of in Texas? Even though I like our track record against Crean, he did get lots of quality kids from the state to Milwaukee - Diener, Novak, Merritt, Matthews, Christopherson.

-On that note: Will recently measured in the 95th percentile for height among 3-1/2-year-olds, and on Friday he got a scholarship offer from Indiana. That's us practicing for signing day 2021.

-On that note, I'm relieved to see Tony Bennett is seemingly out of the running for the Marquette job. What loyalty he's showing to Washington State. It's got to be somewhat of a slap in the face to the Gold that their job isn't seen as enough of a step up from Wazzou or Xavier or Virginia Commonwealth for their coaches to move to the Humongous East.

-You know what UCLA right now reminds me of? Duke in the late '80s. A team that gets to the Final Four every year but falls short because they don't have the horses. It was sort of amazing to me that so many people had the Bruins as the national championship favorite ... although I did have them losing to Georgetown in the finals (good call moron!). Ben Howland's team seems to lack something electric that makes a team a champion.

-Glad I didn't fill out a bracket for money this year, my predictions were god-awful. Then again, I did write "If you made me bet $1 million on the Final Four I'd pick: UCLA, North Carolina, Memphis, Kansas. Strong #1 seeds."


Anonymous said...

Michigan State promoted its assitant Tom Izzo, how did that work out?

Pitt promoted its assitiant Jamie Dixon when Ben Howland left, how did that work out?

Xavier promoted it assistant Sean Miller after Thad Motta left of Ohio State, how did work out?

If Buzz get gets the job, he could work or bomb. But your blanket statement about assistants is just plain wrong.

Scott Tappa said...

You're right about blanket statements, there have been some good assistant promotions over the years. But in these cases:

-Izzo was the heir apparent to Jud Heathecoate for some time and not a rush hire.

-Sean Miller was a rising star in the profession and also an easy choice.

-Don't remember the circumstances around Dixon and whether he was retained for continuity's sake.

Buzz was at Marquette for one year, and while he has earned a reputation as a good recruiter, I don't think he was getting mentioned as a head coaching candidate at other BCS schools.