This is the second in what will be a series of off-season notes on college basketball. Like the first one, I will jump around from subject to subject in a somewhat scattered and disjointed style. Enjoy!
- Mike Krzyzewski was paid nearly $10 million to coach the Dukie Daisy Dandies in 2011. That is, to be sure, a ridiculous sum, even in recognition of the fact that he’s arguably the best college basketball coach of all time. I’m not going to delve into the subject of whether Coach K and his piercing stare, or any college coach for that matter, is worth such a fat, and I’m talking Vince Wolfork-type fat, pay check. I would instead like to point out the impossibility of naming a single best or most valuable college basketball coach in D1 today. Coach K certainly has as good a case for the title as anyone. Rick Pitino’s resume ain’t bad either. Bo Ryan and Tom Crean each might have an argument to say that they’re the best x’s and o’s coach in the college game. Thad Matta’s success also is unprecedented. Jim Larranaga, meanwhile, worked miracles at George Mason and had Miami playing incredible ball this year. Bill Self, Billy Donovan, Tom Izzo, and Jim Boeheim all are in the discussion too. And then there are the young guys like Brad Stevens and Shaka Smart who are incredible as well. I just named 12 guys and I feel like there are another 20 guys I could throw into the discussion from Jamie Dixon to Mark Few to Jay Wright to John Thompson III. If you think about it, putting together a ranking of, say, the top 20 college basketball coaches would be an impossible task. There are so many good ones. Come to think of it, that is exactly the type of herculean task that one can never actually succeed at and that I, being a nut, might attempt one day. But don’t hold your breath. Ya know, I’m sure someone on Bleacher Report has attempted it. Probably in slideshow form. Them and their slideshows…
- Tarik Black is transferring from Memphis to Kansas and will be eligible to play right away. He is really a solid pickup for the Jayhawks. Outside of being maybe the most physically imposing player in college hoops, Black is a battle-tested vet who is surprisingly good offensively around the basket. Either as a role player or as a starter, Black will give Kansas a nice boost as they try to capitalize on the Wiggins signing by winning a ‘Ship of the National variety.
- The song Poncho And Lefty is exceptionally pleasant. This has nothing to do with college basketball (obviously…), but it somehow seems to me to be an important fact to share with the world.
- Getting back on topic, I would like to comment on Joe Lunardi’s (the crown prince of bracketology) far-out bracket for next season. Firstly, I would have Boston College in there. As a BC fan, I’m certainly a bit biased, but, with virtually their entire team returning and Oliver Hanlan poised to explode onto the national scene after winning the ACC Rookie of the Year award, I think they will make it in on Selection Sunday. They certainly should be on Lunardi’s bubble. I was also disappointed to see, or rather not see, Providence in his bracket. I think that, with both explosive scorer Bryce Cotton (could be a national Player of the Year candidate) and big man Kadeem Batts, who has a diverse set of skills, returning, Providence will enter the top 25 at some point this season and will not only make the tournament, but will get a good seed. Finally, Purdue, which was a very young team last year, should make a run at the NCAA Tourney in 2014. I would be surprised if they’re not dancing in March.
- The 2013-2014 season should also be a terrific one for mid-majors. Shaka Smart and VCU will be incredibly good again. They have most of the familiar characters from last season’s 27 win team coming back and could be good enough to not only make a final four run but actually win it all. Wichita State, fresh off their surprise final four appearance, will also likely be top-15 good again even without Malcolm Armstead and Carl Hall. We can throw Gonzaga out there too. They should be poised to have another great season, but they certainly won’t be getting a no.1 seed anytime soon, what with their struggles this March after receiving one of the coveted 1′s. Harvard and New Mexico, who had that incredible first round battle this March, should also both be top-25 caliber. Memphis and St. Louis are a couple more mid-majors who should be very good. St. Louis may be the best defensive team in college hoops.
That’s all I’ve got at the moment. It’s 12:19 am and the caffeine from my 8:00 cup of Dr. Pepper isn’t doing enough to keep me up. But, do expect more off-season notes at some point soon!