Saturday, April 5, 2008

Coming and Going

All of this transfer stuff is getting huge press and board mentions. What are the implications? As a dad of a kid who transferred, I regret and applaud the move he/we made. Was the transfer worth it? Did it put him at an advantage? Did he have pro potential? Was he going to get better opportunities at another school? In the case of my son I know he would not have the great career he has in the movie industry if he did not transfer. But I often think getting a degree from the school he was at would have been a great thing as well.

Transferring is always on the mind of kids and parents who feel playing time is not what it should be. But should that be the main reason? Again I went through this as a parent of a player. It was sad to me watching my son sit on a bench in the Big Ten. But honestly he did not prepare himself physically the summer before he enrolled. And his team was an NCAA team during his freshmen year. So his lack of playing was not all the coaches fault, he shared the blame. In fact he should claim 80% of the blame lol.

But what made his transfer the right thing to do was the treatment he and even his star teammates received from the head coach, who many looked at as sort of a great coach! That coach had little to do with any of his players. During Thanksgiving, the school and the coach did nothing for the kids but give them alot of stipend money to eat on their own! 18 year old kid in the Midwest eating a grilled cheese sandwich on Thanksgiving. All the kids on their own.

During the season the kids only saw this great coach in practice. He rarely had meetings with them. It was horrible. For those reasons I am so happy he left to be close to home. He did miss the special tutors, private jets to games, unlimited gear, sell out crowds, etc. But the peace of mind he got being close to home with a great person as his coach (now the ND Coach) who cared about all his players 1-13. It might have been the best place for him coming out of HS but the glamour of big time basketball got in the way.

Now as a person who has first hand knowledge I do not knock anyone who transfers. They have to do what's right for them. What gets me upset is when they get false promises during the recruitment process. I also get upset when they are not even given an opportunity to develop. If you have never seen or heard a recruitment pitch allow me to share how it goes.

Many coaches bring a high light video and some even have it in presentation mode on a laptop. They show the fans cheering, the game being won, and the best part of the campus, etc. I have even seen some coaches super impose the player they are recruiting picture on a body actually playing the game which they make look like it is being played the following year. After the video presentation which is usually done by the Assistant Coach, the Head Coach does his presentation on where the recruited player fits in on the team. He will say here are the guards, forwards, and centers. He than will show why the player he is talking to is so important and why he should attend his school. He will undersell his current kids to make sure the recruited kid sees a role for himself. He will say what it will mean to the school and the Player. In many cases involving schools outside the tri-state area, they will talk about other incentives if you know what I mean. If not at that meeting, it would be discussed with the AAU/Rec coach or outside adviser who will work those other details out. They will also talk about academic support, dorm living, and alumni support after college! They get the player fired up to attend. They make it sound as if this player is the missing ingredient. They than say they have x scholarships available for x amount of recruited players. They than talk about a campus visit if the player has not been there.

Not really knocking it because Coaches are salesmen. They do what is necessary to seal the deal. A good example is when a coach has good guards who feel they will start next season. They come from great HS programs and now it is finally their turn. Than the coach goes out and says to a promising HS guard how he could help. The promising HS guard says "Coach told me how I'd fit to their system," and "They made the Sweet 16 this year. Coach said if I was there, and in that system, they could be a Final Four team, maybe able to win the national championship." Now I wonder what the kids in the program at this school thinks? Who will sit if this kid attends? The coach in question is a GREAT GUY and VERY GOOD COACH who I really like and admire. But he is selling just like everyone else. Sadly, the kids transferring heard similar stories.

At the visit which the family can attend (they have to pay own transportation costs), the full court press is on if they really want the player. This is where they do the PA intros in the arena, you have dinner with entire team, meet faculty, go out on the town with the team to places you will not even be allowed to go when you enroll, etc.

Now I say all this because when kids choose, they should look beyond all I have mentioned. Look at pass players. Look at transfer history under current coaches. Look realistically at depth charts. And lastly, Kids Should GO WHERE THEY ARE GENUINLY LOVED, NOT WHERE THEY ARE ONLY WANTED! And understand when a kid calls to say he is coming and everyone is jumping up and down in the coaches office with happiness, it often is pure BS. Its just the closing pitch until they sign the LOI. If you have ever been to a time share presentation and heard what happens when someone buys a week and they do that huge announcement, you know what I am talking about.

That wonderful day for alot of kids turns sad because they now are leaving the school they thought they would star at. This time last year was great! Coaches smiling, kids smiling, parents proud, etc. But guess what, the new schools can work out just fine. Those transfer kids need to take their time and really pick the right school. Forget about the same level, or huge arenas. Pick a school that will give you what is needed in coaching, development, campus life, after college opportunities, and convenience to home if that is important to you. Transferring can be a great thing for an unhappy kid, if it is done for the right reason.

Who does the transferring hurt? Not the kids as much as the programs they are leaving. Smart kids look at transfer numbers as does their coaches, parents, and advisers. Especially the kids who are very good. Great 5 star players just want that 1 year and feel they are so good this will not happen to them. But the kids that really help long term will always look at transfer statistics. It looks bad when kids continue to leave. especially good kids who many will assume was run off. Trust me people notice and use it when picking schools. Other schools use it against the schools the kids are leaving. Think about the top tier programs and transfers. Some, but not many!

As we look forward to today's NCAA Final Four, we can look at a kid like Russell Robinson from NYC. Russell wanted out of Kansas very much after his freshmen year. He barely played and stayed in the doghouse of the Head Coach. Russell wanted to shoot, the Coach wanted him to make plays. The Coach won and so did Russell who will experience playing in a final four. Something he will remember the rest of his life. I just wonder what would have happened if he left and transferred to a place like St. Johns or SHU 3 years ago?

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