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This week's College Basketball Preview found its unifying principle on July 22, when senior editor Dick Friedman opened an e-mail from staff writer Seth Davis. "Two words: Old School" the e-mail read. "We could make the preview a celebration of the people, programs and trends that embody old school values and that too often get overlooked." The theme stuck, and under the direction of Friedman, associate editor B.J. Schecter, deputy art director Ed Levine and associate photo editor Porter Binks, the staff produced a 60-page package.
Senior writer Alexander Wolff, on the college hoops beat for SI since 1980, gets as old school as possible, writing about Dr. James Naismith's original 13 rules of basketball. Elsewhere Wolff examines how today's college players have fallen behind their European counterparts in the fundamentals.
Retro can be rewarding, as senior writer Grant Wahl shows in his stories about Kansas teammates Nick Collison and Kirk Hinrich, possibly the most fundamentals-oriented duo in the land, and Miami ( Ohio) coach Charlie Coles, who teaches a class in basketball theory at the university. Wahl—a 1996 graduate of Princeton, where they tend to stress the basics—also compiled SI's All-Old School team, which includes Pitt senior guard Brandin Knight, who studies tapes of Pistol Pete Maravich, Earl Monroe and Oscar Robertson.
But the section isn't mired in the past. Davis does his best impression of the NCAA selection committee, assembling SI's 65-team tournament field. Scouting reports come from Wahl, Davis, senior writer Phil Taylor, writer-reporter Chris Ballard and reporter John O'Keefe. On the women's side senior writer Kelli Anderson profiles Duke's do-it-all guard Alana Beard and ranks the Top 10. An editorial dream team? Friedman thinks so. "Working with this group is like having Jordan, McGrady, Bryant and Sheryl Swoopes," he says. "You just have to roll the ball out there."
A frequent contributor to the magazine over the years, photographer Gregoire faced the challenge of portraying SI's All-Old School team in an old school style. So the Rhode Island native arranged to get a vintage uniform for each player. That, as things turned out, was the easy part. "They were hesitant to wear the tight jerseys and shorts," he says. "I think it would be the equivalent of our wearing Bermuda shorts and socks up to the knees."
Now that's old school.