Thoughts on the tourney, coaching carousel and more
Posted: Tuesday March 27, 2007 3:58PM; Updated: Tuesday March 27, 2007 10:30PM
It's Final Four week, Hoop Thinkers. Time to rip it and run:
It really bothers me that anyone would suggest Bill Self is underachieving because he is now 0-4 in the Elite Eight. Anyone have any idea how hard it is to reach four Elite Eights at three different schools? Keep this in mind all you instant-gratification-seekers: It took John Wooden 16 years to win his first title at UCLA. It took Dean Smith 21 years at North Carolina. Lute Olson won a title in his 14th season at Arizona. Roy Williams and Mike Krzyzewski went to multiple Final Fours before winning it all. It's only a matter of time before Self breaks through, and it will probably happen when nobody expects him to.
There will be lots of discussion about the coaching carousel as usual this week, most of it (slightly informed) speculation. So instead of throwing 20 different names at you for each job, here are my early-read favorites for the four biggest openings: Kentucky -- Tom Crean. Michigan -- Lon Kruger. Iowa -- Dana Altman. Arkansas -- Chris Lowery. Of course, I realize Kentucky is going to throw everything it has at Billy Donovan, but like everyone else I have a hard time imagining Billy D taking that job.
You may have seen that Iowa asked permission to interview Bruce Pearl. I can certainly understand why Iowa would be interested in Pearl, but remember, Iowa is the place where Pearl was working as an assistant when he taped a telephone conversation with a recruit who alleged that former Illinois assistant Jimmy Collins offered him illicit benefits. I thought Pearl paid a very unfair price at the time (especially after Dick Vitale said he committed "professional suicide" by taping the call), and I think it would be a mistake for Pearl to go back to the scene of that sordid episode.
There were two West Coast assistants who I was sure would be head coaches this spring. The first was Gonzaga's Bill Grier, who just got hired at San Diego. The second is UCLA's Kerry Keating, who will undoubtedly have some offers (Long Beach State, perhaps?) as soon as the Bruins' season ends.
Incidentally, I'm not convinced John Calipari isn't moving on from Memphis. He certainly wouldn't be the first coach to take another job after: a) signing a contract extension; and b) publicly insisting he wouldn't take another job. Personally, I think he'd be absolutely lethal at Michigan.
As great as he is, Greg Oden is developing two bad habits. The first is getting into foul trouble, which could be a function of playing in games officiated by non-Big Ten crews. The second is lifting up his legs when he dunks two-handed. There were two occasions during the win over Memphis when Oden could easily have gotten teed up for hanging on the rim.
Speaking of the Buckeyes, there was a time midway through the Big Ten season when I was hearing chatter from around the league indicating Ohio State was having chemistry issues between its freshman and its upperclassmen. Guess that wasn't so. You don't overcome deficits and reach Final Fours if the players don't get along.
Some quickie tournament awards.
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