Posted: Friday March 18, 2011 3:18PM ; Updated: Saturday March 19, 2011 9:46AM
Ian Thomsen

The Sixth Man (cont.)

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Extra work for Kobe
Source: SI
Kobe Bryant returned to the court in Miami after the Lakers' loss to the Heat on March 10.

Why do we let the opposing player shoot on our court for more than an hour after he loses to us? Why are we accommodating someone who wants to beat us?
-- C.B., Miami, Fla.

Chris Bosh, your recent statement -- that the lights should have been shut off around Kobe Bryant as he practiced shooting after his March 10 game on your home court -- was one of the best things to come out of Miami this season. There is a feeling that players of your generation are too friendly to be hardcore rivals with each other. As a team you haven't shown that ruthless side in most of your games against rival contenders. After a full season together, will that ruthlessness emerge during the playoffs next month?

Did you just expect me to give up and not play again?
-- M.R., Milwaukee, Wis.

Michael Redd, you've spent the last two years undergoing and recovering from successive major knee surgeries. You could have retired on the huge contract that is paying you $18.3 million this season. But like Bill Walton, Grant Hill, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Yao Ming and others over the years, you show courage by trying to return. Good luck to you.

The World

Through the eyes of Ettore Messina. Long regarded as the best coach outside North America, is Messina now free to pursue a career in the NBA?

If so, he insists he would come to the NBA to serve as nothing more than an assistant coach.

"It would be interesting," Messina said Wednesday from Spain, where he shocked European basketball by resigning as coach of Real Madrid two weeks ago. "But I need first of all to see if I could be a good assistant after many years of not being an assistant. And then it would have to be made clear that I am not going there to steal anybody's job."

Messina does not delude himself about becoming an NBA coach. Whenever the topic has come up over the years, he has shot it down quickly by referring to the fundamental differences between the leagues of Europe and the NBA.

"It might be an interesting opportunity," said Messina, a 51-year-old Italian who speaks excellent English. "A few years ago I didn't see it like this, but now, getting older, you understand. You see it differently because experience gives you a different point of view."

His recent experience with Madrid opened the door to new possibilities. After a loss to Siena in a meaningless Euroleague game that didn't alter Madrid's place in the standings -- Real was No. 1 in its group going into the playoffs -- Messina decided to resign with one full year remaining on a contract that paid him close to $3 million annually.

Messina had a fundamental problem with the mission of Real Madrid, which was Europe's most successful club in soccer and basketball in the last century. The club was so focused on the end result that it ignored the process of building a championship team.

He compares the mission statement of Madrid to that of CSKA Moscow, where Messina won two Euroleague championships before moving to Spain in 2009. He said the mission statement on the wall of the CSKA arena read, "We are here to win" -- implying that the team had done all of the hard behind-the-scenes work to position itself to succeed.

The mission statement at Real, according to Messina, was focused on the end result: "In Madrid the only thing that counts is winning."

Messina has no problem with seeking to win: He has won four Euroleague titles overall.

"The sentence at CSKA says we are here to win -- which doesn't mean we will win," he said. "It's a big, big difference. We are here to win, but we cannot guarantee that we will win."

The statement in Madrid represented a myth of arrogance that winning was a right of the club. But Messina was overseeing a young team, including 20-year-old Nikola Mirotic, a 6-foot-10 power forward who is being scouted by the NBA. He was trying to create an environment of humility that would eventually position them to succeed, but he was convinced the habits couldn't form at a club that wasn't invested in the process.

There are very few clubs that have the budget and ambition to help Messina fulfill his vision for how a team should be built. If he can't find a promising offer to remain in Europe next year, he may be open to spending a season or two on an NBA bench, where he could learn a new perspective while also providing his team with different strategies. In the meantime, Messina plans to accept an invitation from San Antonio to spend eight days with the Spurs -- and his former star at Bologna, Manu Ginobili -- later this month.

"I'm really excited to see a couple of practices, some games, watch some films with the team, and of course to see Manu," Messina said. "I've never had the opportunity to see Manu during the season."

The List

NCAA excellence. It rarely turns into an NBA career, as you can see from these lists of the annual NCAA leaders in the top statistical categories over the previous 10 seasons. Among the 37 annual leaders listed below, 11 played in the NBA and eight are in the NBA today. If you're going to be the best in any category, control the boards: Rebounding is a skill that readily translates to the NBA.

NCAA leaders in points per game

(NBA players are in bold)

Year Player School Points
2009-10 Aubrey Coleman Houston 25.6
2008-09 Stephen Curry Davidson 28.7
2007-08 Reggie Williams Virginia Military Institute 27.8
2006-07 Reggie Williams Virginia Military Institute 28.1
2005-06 Adam Morrison Gonzaga 28.1
2004-05 Keydren Clark Saint Peter's 25.8
2003-04 Keydren Clark Saint Peter's 26.7
2002-03 Ruben Douglas New Mexico 28.0
2001-02 Jason Conley Virginia Military Institute 29.3
2000-01 Ronnie McCollum Centenary (LA) 29.2

NCAA leaders in rebounds per game

(NBA players are in bold)

Year Player School Rebounds
2009-10 Artsiom Parakhouski Radford 13.4
2008-09 Blake Griffin Oklahoma 14.4
2007-08 Michael Beasley Kansas State 12.4
2006-07 Rashad Jones-Jennings Arkansas Little-Rock 13.07
2005-06 Paul Millsap Louisiana Tech 13.3
2004-05 Paul Millsap Louisiana Tech 12.4
2003-04 Paul Millsap Louisiana Tech 12.5
2002-03 Brandon Hunter Ohio 12.6
2001-02 Jason Conley Virginia Military Institute 29.3
2000-01 Jeremy Bishop Quinnipiac 12.0

NCAA leaders in assists per game

(NBA players are in bold)

Year Player School Assists
2009-10 Ronald Moore Siena 7.7
2009-10 Jonathon Jones Oakland 8.1
2007-08 Jason Richards Davidson 8.1
2006-07 Jared Jordan Marist 8.7
2005-06 Jared Jordan Marist 8.5
2004-05 (tie) Damitrius Coleman Mercer 8.0
2004-05 (tie) Will Funn Portland State 8.0
2003-04 Greg Davis Troy 8.3
2002-03 Martell Bailey Illinois-Chicago 8.1
2001-02 T.J. Ford Texas 8.3
2000-01 Markus Carr Cal State Northridge 9.0

NCAA leaders in blocks per game

(NBA players are in bold)

Year Player School Blocks
2009-10 Hassan Whiteside Marshall 5.4
2008-09 Jarvis Varnado Mississippi State 4.7
2007-08 Jarvis Varnado Mississippi State 4.6
2006-07 Mickell Gladness Alabama A&M 6.3
2005-06 Shawn James Northeastern 6.5
2004-05 Deng Gai Fairfield 5.5
2003-04 Anwar Ferguson Houston 4.1
2002-03 Emeka Okafor Connecticut 4.7
2001-02 Wojciech Myrda Louisiana-Monroe 5.4
2000-01 Tarvis Williams Hampton 4.6

NCAA Leaders for 2010-11

Scoring: Jimmer Fredette, BYU (28.5)
Rebounds: Kenneth Faried, Morehead State (14.5)
Assists: Aaron Johnson, UAB (7.7)
Blocks: Williams Mosley, Northwestern State (4.8)

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