Post NBA Draft Thoughts on Coaching

The NBA draft was lat night. Three Kentucky players went in the lottery. Coach Calipari was at the draft and posted pictures with the kids who were drafted. Many of the comments on those pictures are UK fans yelling at him for being more concerned with getting players to the NBA than winning championships. They say that the only thing that matters is winning a championship. These comments made me think about the job of a coach. What is the coach’s job? Is it all about wins and losses and nothing else matters? I can see that argument in professional sports, but not at any other level. Sure, winning games is good and the goal of playing the game should be to win, but that is not the most important thing.

If you are coaching youth sports, even at the all star level, developing the players as both athletes and people should be the main goal. There is no level in youth sports where you stop teaching and start caring only about wins and losses. Unfortunately, I’ve heard coaches as early as 10U opine that since they had a collection of talented players they had to worry less about coaching because the wins would be easy. They have no business coaching kids. The wins over everything else mentality destroys youth sports. We end up with situations where kids are kicked off their local travel teams on favor of kids who live miles away so the coach can notch a couple of extra wins. Instead of working with players and developing their skills, coaches just dump the kids who are in a slump. It’s easier than actually teaching. Isn’t winning all that matters? Who cares if they ever play high school sports as long as I get my trophy.

If you are coaching high school sports you should also be developing the players as both people and athletes. Sure, you have tryouts and you pick the best players.  This is the point where some kids have to hear that they don’t have the skills to play at this level. Once you have a team, though, you have to worry about more than wins and losses You should be making sure your kids are keeping their grades up and helping them develop their skills in the sport. Your job is to get them ready for life after high school. That might mean getting them ready for college sports. It might mean helping them get the grades they need to go to college without sports. It might just mean helping them become better people. Wins are good, but getting them ready for life after high school is more important.

I think the same goes for college. It is a big business and you will be judged on wins and losses. This does not mean that a championship is all that matters. You are still coaching kids and you still have a responsibility to get them ready for the next step in life. For many of the Kentucky players this means the NBA. For some it means getting a degree. If your players are going to class, winning games, having fun and either going pro or graduating from college then you are doing your job. Calipari is excelling at this. The kid good enough to go pro are drafted and are making millions. The kids that aren’t are getting degrees and possibly playing overseas. He’s going to Final Fours and championship games and has won a championship. I think the one and done system is flawed, but that’s the game right now.  Calipari understands that his job is getting the players where they need to be to be successful. He’s doing this and winning games. The people complaining just don’t understand that the players and their futures are more important than the feelings of the fans.

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Tater’s Take on March Madness

This is the month we get the best event in sports: March Madness. I love the upsets, the buzzer beaters and the thought that any random team can go on a run and win it all. Normally, it is even more fun for me because My Kentucky Wildcats are there until the very end. This year, though, I’m adjusting to life without the Wildcats being around. It’s hard, but I’m still watching.

Buh Bye: I am happy to see that Duke, Wisconsin and Indiana have all been eliminated from the tournament. There are still plenty of teams that I don’t like, but I’m very happy that none there seams will win it all. I was even happier with the way they lost. Duke and IU are beaten easily and Wisconsin choked. I guess it’s petty to watch in hopes of others being disappointed, but I don’t care. I laugh at the defeat of these teams. Also, this picture is still valid

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Shut Up: Of course Duke and rat face Coach K@#@$$@ couldn’t go quietly. Coach K@##$@#$ decided to lecture an Oregon player for taking a shot at the end of the game. Not as the clock expired, but as a shot clock expired with time still on the game clock. I guess the polite thing to do is to hand the ball to Duke instead of continuing to play the game. This took place after trippy Grayson Allen refused to shake hands with the Oregon players as the clock expired. The same Grayson Allen who tripped at least two opponents during the season and was not punished. I’m sure coach K@###@$@$ would have been OK with the Oregon coach lecturing Allen on sportsmanship, right? To make things worse, when asked about it, Coach K@##$$ lied about the exchange and said it never happened. Stay classy, Duke.

Frauds: UNC and Syracuse are in the final 8. Both teams are teams that have committed academic fraud. UNC still has not been punished. Syracuse got in the field because the committee felt their losses while their cheating coach was suspended shouldn’t count against them. Yet somehow people still say Calipari is what’s wrong with college basketball and we hear more complaints about UK players going pro instead of the academic fraud issues. We need to get rid of the one and done rule and let the kids who have no interest in college go pro. That might help with the need to commit academic fraud to keep players on the court when they can’t do what it takes in the classroom.

Refs: College basketball officiating is horrendous. You know it’s bad when someone like Doug Sirmons is considered good enough to officiate a tournament game. The NCAA needs to find a way to fix this. They are ruining the game. Limit how many games they can call in a week. Actually review their work and install consequences for screwing up. Suspend the ones who call technical fouls when none are warranted. Fire the ones who are consistently bad. As long as they can be bad at the job, penalize people who complain about them and suffer no consequences, there is no reason for them to want to improve.

My Dream Final Four: I don’t have much love for any of the teams left in the field. I guess I will go with a dream final four of Oregon(though Oklahoma would be fine), Villanova, Virginia and Notre Dame. Most of those picks are because I dislike the other teams, not because I like the ones I picked. It would be interesting to watch the announcers blatantly ignore the academic fraud issues while calling a Syracuse/UNC gme, but not enough for me to want to see them win.

Reflections on the Season and the Loss

I know some will think it is bad timing to post a basketball blog on the morning of the attacks in Brussels, but this is the first time I’ve had the time to type out my thoughts on the season. So, here goes:

Early this season when Kentucky lost to teams like UCLA and Ohio State, I would have said a second round loss was to be expected. The team looked OK, but not great and a second round loss wold not be a surprise given what I saw on the court. Unfortunately, wins against Duke, overtime against Kansas and a surge in the SEC tournament made everyone think the team was finally getting it together and had what it took to get to the championship game. This week against Indiana we discovered that the team was who we thought they were early in the season: a team with two great guards, but not much else A team not built for a long tournament run. It’s disappointing, but we are spoiled. This is only the second team in the Calipari era to not go to the final eight. That’s a pretty good run and there is a monster recruiting class coming next year.

I will miss watching Ulis and Murray play. They were one of the best guard combinations we’ve ever had. I wish we had them for another year, but we can’t expect a kid to pass up millions of dollars to stay in college one more year. I will miss good Poythress and even inconsistent Poythress. I can’t say I will miss Skal, because I barely saw him play, but I wish him the best in the NBA. Once a Cat, always a Cat no matter how much you were on the floor. You still wore the uniform and that’s enough. I will look forward to next year and the hopes of another final four run and will always be a fan no matter the results.

Now, the rest of the tournament field: Normally, I would want the team that beat Kentucky to go far so that we at least lost to a team on a championship run, but that team is Indiana. I can’t cheer for Indiana. Especially after Yogi Farrell’s mom tweeted trash about Ulis after the game. Learn how to win with class. It would be interesting for UNC to win since that might mean Roy Williams would retire and shake up the coaching world, but I can’t cheer for UNC(plus I can win money if they lose). No way I can cheer for Duke, Syracuse or Kansas(plus, again, I can win money if Kansas loses). So, I’m left with the Gonzaga Fighting Wiltjers(once a Cat, always a Cat) as my heart choice and the Oregon Ducks as my head choice. I guess an A&M win would be good for the SEC, so that would be OK as well. But, really, basketball is over for me and I will look toward the rebuilding Braves as my next source of sports frustration.

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Rex

If you are not a UK fan or you are a UK fan who does not read all of the online stuff about the team(do those people exist?) you might not know what the Rex problem is. About two hours  before the national championship game, former UK player and fan favorite Rex Chapman tweeted this – “Was messin’ ’round on Sat nite re: Cal. But word is – win or lose 2nite – it’s a …Cal 2 La-La-Land 2 coach Mamba’s Lakers. “. UK fans are very upset with Rex for tweeting that right before the game. I’m not upset for the following reasons:

1. I say this over and over again. My twitter and my facebook are mine to post what I want. If you don’t like what I tweet or post on Facebook it is your problem, not mine. If you don’t like it, don’t follow. As Ricky Gervais said “Following someone on Twitter and complaining about what they tweet about is like phoning someone to tell them you don’t want to talk to them”. Rex is not an employee of the university and is not a journalist. He has a right to post what someone told him if he wants. Don’t like it? Don’t follow.

2. The only people who would have a legitimate reason to be upset with Rex are Coach Calipari. his family, his team, his boss, the Lakers coach, his family, his team, his boss. The only reason anyone else would possibly be upset is because they didn’t like the information in the tweet and it made them enjoy a basketball game less. Again, it’s not Rex’s responsibility to woerry about how you feel about the information he tweeted.

3. It had no effect on the game at all. Some people have tried to use the “what if the players read the tweet and it made them play worse” argument. I’m not sure if any of the players follow Rex on twitter. It’s possible they do and would have seen it if they were checking twitter.  However, two hours before the national championship game the players were most likely not reading their twitter feed. They had more important things on their mind than what Rex Chapman had to say about Calipari’s job status.

4. This whole debacle once again helps the national perception of “UK fans as lunatics”. We are really willing to “excommunicate” Rex from the UK family because of what we consider an ill timed tweet? I’ve always been a fan of Rex Chapman and the events of Monday night did not change that.

Hypocrisy and the NCAA Take 2

A while back I wrote on the NCAA in regards to Eric Bledsoe, Derrick Rose and the mysteriously never closed case of Corey Maggette.  It turned out that Eric Bledsoe was cleared, Derrick Rose is still a cheater and apparently the NCAA is still “investigating” the Maggette case.

The latest issue with the NCAA is another UK basketball case. Enes Kanter has been declared permanently ineligible because the Turkish club team paid in $30,000 in excess of what was allowed by the NCAA. The majority of this money went to pay for his education.  From all that I read, the Kanter’s did everything they could to maintain his amateur status, but did not realize that adding education into necessary expenses would be a problem.  They offered to repay the money, but the NCAA said no.

Josh Selby of Kansas also received impermissible benefits for playing basketball. Not nearly as much, but about $5000. He was suspended 9 games ans was allowed to pay the money back to a charity of his choice.

Cam Newton’s dad has admitted to demanding between $100,000 and $180,000 for his son to transfer to Mississippi State.  Newton ended up at Auburn.  The NCAA just recently declared hm immediately eligible because he did not know what his dad was doing.

Each case shows how there is no consistency in the NCAA rules. Selby is suspended, repays the money but can play at some point. Newton misses no games and can play immediately(and one would assume be responsible for the title being vacated once it is shown Auburn paid him to transfer there). Kanter is declared permanently ineligible to play in the NCAA.

Can someone explain this to me?