The 'Bag (cont.)
Posted: Wednesday January 9, 2008 2:13PM; Updated: Wednesday January 9, 2008 6:54PM
So-called package deals are taking place around the country as the high school and AAU coaches of recruits (as well as some relatives) are being hired by programs that may be seeking an extra edge in the recruiting process.
Opening the 'Bag
We were on vacation last week, so there's not a lot of topical questions in the 'Bag; make sure to send some in and I'll get to them next week.
In our "reader nomination" department, several of you responded to our call for players in recent years who've started as walk-ons for Top 25-quality teams. By far the most popular nomination was Christian Moody of Kansas, whom Billy Packer once called (with uncommon hyperbole, for him at least) the greatest walk-on in the history of college basketball.
But there were a few other nominations as well, to wit:
Christian Moody, Kansas (Jared Miller, Overland Park, Kan.)
Sean Farnham, UCLA (Andrew, Los Angeles)
Ravi Moss, Kentucky (Ryan, Lexington, Ky.)
Mark Coury, Kentucky (Phil, Hebron, Ky.)
Cameron Mills, Kentucky (Tom, Milwaukee, Wis.)
Antoine Pettway, Alabama (Ryan Wallace, Hartselle, Ala.)
David Noel, North Carolina (Al Porter, Durham, N.C.)
Wes Miller, North Carolina (Al Porter, Durham, N.C.)
Clayton Hanson, Wisconsin (Mark Hanson, Madison, Wis.)
Chris Walker, Texas A&M (Jacob Lappa, Dallas, Texas)
Michael Lindeman, Creighton (Tim, Omaha, Neb.)
This week's question: Can readers name any more examples of package deals for top recruits, either player who are currently playing or those who've already committed to a school for next season or the year after?
I was intrigued by the letter in the last 'Bag about Maryland's Gary Williams, and by your response. We all know that recruiting has always been the lifeblood of success in college hoops (and football). But I was always impressed by how coaches like Williams were able to take raw guys and mold them. You could see the progression even within a season. But now I wonder: Given the sheer firepower that teams like Memphis are bringing to bear these days, is the pendulum swinging away from the teachers?
Good question: I think the pendulum may in fact be swinging away from the teachers. One reason is probably the NBA age-minimum rule, which has brought several one-and-done players (read: firepower) to the highest levels of college basketball. This is also an area where Gary Williams in particular has suffered from the loss of so many good assistants in recent years. (Those teachers can be hard to replace.)
That said, I don't think teaching has completely disappeared in the game. Look at Georgetown's Roy Hibbert, a skilled big man who was an all-time stiff when he arrived on campus. And look at the three Florida lottery picks: Joakim Noah, Al Horford and Corey Brewer. Only one of them (Brewer) was a McDonald's All-American, while Noah barely played his freshman season. I don't think it's a coincidence that during their time in Gainesville the Gators had perhaps the nation's top teaching assistant in Larry Shyatt, along with two other amazing assistants in Anthony Grant (now the head man at VCU) and Donnie Jones (now the head coach at Marshall).
As for our next question, Gordon from Morehead City, N.C., had a comment on our last column, in which we asked why more coaches don't toss out "junk" defenses to surprise (and rattle) opponents more often:
The reason more coaches forgo "junk" defenses is that the perception among the elite programs is the only teams with lesser talent and lesser coaches play anything but man-to-man. I even heard a commentator on a radio broadcast say that playing zone is admitting that your team is not good enough to go man to man. I disagree. A good diamond-and-one or triangle-and-two can really throw off a team's offensive rhythm. Especially if that team is overly dependent on one player to do the majority of the scoring or ball-handling.
We don't know if West Virginia's Bob Huggins is a reader of the 'Bag (in fact, we highly doubt it), but part of us wonders if he read our column two weeks ago. We had cited USC's surprise triangle-and-two that flustered Memphis earlier this season, and sure enough, Huggs said he had called USC's Tim Floyd before tossing out the triangle-and-two that did a number on Marquette in Morgantown last week.
"I didn't really know anything about the triangle-and-two, but Tim Floyd really helped us out a bunch," Huggins told reporters.
For any of you eagle-eyed readers, please let the 'Bag know if you see any other examples of "junk" defenses in the college ranks, and we'll mention them in a future column.