Sunday, January 17, 2010

Some Thoughts

I really enjoyed watching a few games on TV yesterday. here are some thoughts that came to me, especially as it relates to Northeastern USA basketball.

As I watched the Texas game one of the commentators was raving about the great job being done by the Texas Coach Rick Barnes. Though I do agree Rick Barnes is a very good coach and program administrator, I wonder how close he would come to a national championship without the entire state of Texas behind him? Yes Rick is getting it done but everyone knows Texas is a southwest version of Kentucky in regards to spending money for athletics. As it is at Kentucky, North Carolina, Duke, Kansas, Tennessee, Indiana, and many others, Money will never get in the way of winning and recruiting players. So yes Rick Barnes will do well. He is supposed to and at the snap of his finger he could have a private lear jet ready to take him anywhere to get a player. And his teams want for nothing because they, like many others, are taken care of better than what 75 percent of the players will experience to rest of their lives.

Brings me to the NBA Developmental League. As I watched a game the other night involving two teams with ex college stars playing in a 95% empty arena in a city I have never heard of, I could not help but think how they must have NBA counselors and therapists on staff to treat all these players who were wined and dined their entire basketball lives. It was very odd watching these guys playing so hard in an empty building in an attempt to make it to the NBA. I would imagine only 5% at the most will ever get that opportunity. The rest will have to settle for bus rides to games, buying their own sneakers, and different living conditions from what they had at good ole big time university. Just imagine playing for Kentucky and being treated very special, and than playing for the Topeka Wildcats in front on 220 people in a building that holds 10,000. Wow!

Watched Greg E behind the bench at the Creighton/Wichita game. He looked in awe! There were 16,000 people at that game and they seemed like true fans. I would imagine he never expected to see that type of fan support at Creighton. Funny thing is years ago the Missouri Valley Conference was a league of tough teams with tough big guys. This was prior to the Big east, A10, etc. Well in recent years the league has returned. Most of the teams have tremendous followings. Not sure if Creighton gets 16,000 every home game but I would be stunned if they averaged less than 10,000 a game. I also wonder if they play all their home games in such a building. If so Greg might just enjoy the experience. Personally I feel he is a decent but not great talent at this point. But remember he really is a year ahead because he was supposed to be a freshmen this season. So now he will be back in his rightful year. And trust me, his new coach, Dana Altman, is exceptional and a very good teacher all the way back to his days as a JC Coach. This transfer give Greg a fresh start as he works towards being an NBA draft pick.

Looking forward to all the great games in Springfield Mass. At last I get to watch Michael Gilchrist. But it would be my luck that he misses the train from Camden that takes him to Elizabeth to connect with the bus going to Springfield. The Finley Prep vs St. Pats game might be worthy of taping on your TIVO.

I still feel St. Johns has turned the corner. I also think alot of teams are hoping not to meet them in the Big East Tournament where anything can happen. This year the BET will be magical and like Disney based on magical upsets that are sure to take place.

Seton Hall is a team I thought would have done better. Not sure why they have not won more, but I do feel they lost to teams that no one can say they were completely better than. Again I question the strength and conditioning guys working at SHU as much as the coaches and players. I also again say Pope, Lawrence, and Mitchell are not playing as well as they should. Yes Pope is rebounding, but he has so much more potential. Maybe Bobby needs to allow Dermon Player to get into the coaching motivation thing he does so well. I have seen Dermon motivate guys into playing much better than they really are. But stupid fouls, turnovers, missed free throws, etc. are always affected by conditioning which impacts the mental part of the game. Seton Hall is another team that scares alot of people because when they get it together, watch out! And I am sure SHU Fans do not want to hear this, I feel all the SHU guys will return and .......Next season could be really special. Not giving up on them this year, just understanding what has happened thus far.

Rutgers loses to South Florida. Did anyone other than me expect this? If the game was at Rutgers I would expect a win. I feel Rutgers will be very competitive with South Florida, Providence, DePaul, Cincinnati, and St. Johns and Seton Hall based on rivalry and familiarity of players.

It seems everyone has FHJ gone at the end of the season. Maybe, maybe not. I don't feel RU has great talent but with a good run and better defense anything can happen. What hurts FHJ more than the record, is the recent stories, transfers, potential transfers, etc. Folks are less forgiving when the record is not good. With a good record all the negative stuff would be pushed under the rug. There are some upcoming games that RU should/could win. Lets see how this plays out.

One thing I will say about a potential coaching change is I hope RU does not make a change just to make a change. No career assistants, No ex players without experience, no HS guys (sorry guys but this is the Big East, experience a must!). A new coach will need to make a base salary of $1,000,000 plus with bonus incentives, new luxury RAC (9000 seats MAX) , and new practice facility. The new coach needs to know how to develop great players and players who have potential but were under the recruitment radar. The Coach should be a people person who could get people out to games based on appearances, TV, and radio shows. The new coach should have national connections and well liked by ESPN and CBS. With that in mind I would say guys like Seth Greenburg, Fran Frachillo, Paul Hewitt, Al Skinner, Jeff Capel, Eddie Jordan (but must have correct staff), Tim Welsh (not a first tier guy at this point though I like him alot), etc. These are the type of guys needed. I know alot of guys are anti Fran, but trust me if you want a national program he has to be strongly considered. I do feel Seth is the one you really need. And there is nothing wrong with going after that super guy who finally gets you where you want to be, It might take salary, plus attendance bonus, plus win bonus, plus special annuity, and more. If not this RU can always hire a HS Coach, Patrick Ewing with a few ex RU guys as Assistants, the Coach from Siena, or maybe hit the jackpot with the current coach at Northwestern who coached Princeton at one time.


rmacballer said...

You are spot on regarding Coach Altman's ability as a teacher of the game. It does go all the way back to his days in the JUCO ranks when he had Mitch Richmond at Moberly, followed by being honored as Big 8 (before it became the Big 12) COY @ K-State, to more recently being named the All-Time MVC Centennial Coach.

And to just follow up on your comment about the arena/fan base for the Bluejays of Creighton, here are a couple of facts from their media guide:

They play all their home games in the Quest Center (site of yesterday's game), they have ranked in the top-15 nationally in home attendance each of the past three years. Last year, they were 12th in the nation averaging 15,930 fans per game (they had 16,900 yesterday). They rank behind only Memphis in non-BCS conference home attendence.

Only 12 schools have made the postseason in each of the last 12 years - Arizona, Creighton, Duke, Florida, Gonzaga, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland,
Michigan State, Oklahoma State, Stanford and Syracuse.

Creighton is one of six teams nationally with 20 or more wins in each of last 11 seasons. That list consists of Creighton, Duke, Florida, Gonzaga, Kansas and Syracuse.

Not a bad resume. It's probably a safe bet that GE will be in good hands out in Omaha and will flourish both on and off the court.

LFBall said...

I just did the same research on Creighton. That arena is wonderful. They even had 15000 plus for Savannah State. The school is a great academic place as well. Altman is the real deal. had the pleasure of him visiting me in my office years ago regarding area players. Strict but loving guy who looks out for his players. He is an outstanding coach. Seems Greg will get alot from this move. The MVC is much better than folks realize. Even the top BE schools would have a hard time winning at those schools. Thanks so much for your comment. Please feel free to comment often, even when you disagree lol.

rmacballer said...

I too have had the pleasure of spending time with Coach Altman over the years. He's a guy who just "gets it", his teams are well coached, play hard, and most importantly get their diplomas at the end of their stay at Creighton.

On a side note. As an old bergen county/nnjil guy who just returned to the area, I was happy to come upon your blog and have enjoyed it's content. Don't always agree with your observations (lol) but do look to see "what's up" with LFBall on the metro hoop scene.

I'll be parked in front of the tube today myself watching the Big 3 NJ teams battle it out in Springfield.

LFBall said...

How can you not always agree with me? lololol
Just kidding! I am far from being an expert. But I do think I have some understanding of the game and the recruitment process.

As a NNJIL guy I am sure you missed the Bergen Jamboree. I still remember taking my than 6th grade son all over the county for the early match-ups. Almost every site was sold out. That tournament has to be the best in the entire state. My son could not wait to play for Teaneck one day and he did. Boy those were the good ole days sitting with all the longtime BC fans like a guy named Micky who seemed to go to every football and basketball game every day.

Still remember the various coaches around. I remember the Ridgewood Coach getting those to kids to play so hard despite looking like he should be in Hollywood or the Hamptons lol. The rivalries between the various teams and the different players were great,

But again Creighton is a great program and one that many kids would appreciate. Thanks again for the comments. Please keep coming back.