I have a great Elite Eight story to tell you, but I know you want me to get right to my picks. I went 7-1 in my Sweet Sixteen picks, losing with Louisville — a team I am picking against again Sunday. I went 8-for-8 last year in the Sweet Sixteen, and my Twitter followers and Chris Sheridan want me to take that 15-1 record and try to make it 19-1. So I’ll get right to the picks … and then the story.
Bob Huggins is 8-2 lifetime against coach John Calipari, with most of the games taking place when those two coaches were leading Cincinnati and Memphis. That was years ago. Now they are with West Virginia and Kentucky, and folks are wondering whether Huggins’ personal .800 winning percentage will have an impact on the game. I provided my answer to that question, along with telling my best Bob Huggins story (from back when I was an assistant under Pete Gillen at Xavier), in
The NCAA Committee really deserves to take a bow with the matchups, storylines and drama they helped provide in picking the field this year. After a very compelling and topsy-turvy first two rounds, now it’s what I like to call “big boy time.” After coaching in a few NCAA tourneys and closely following countless others, one thing I’ve learned through the years is that at this point, it’s usually safe to expect the chalk to advance. We will forever have upsets
Once upon a time, coach Bobby Gonzalez took an underdog Manhattan team to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament, where hey were national darlings and a Cinderella story. This year, the lowest seed to advance out of the first two rounds of the tourney is UCLA, and we would be hard pressed to describe them as a Cinderella in any way, shape or form … not with that school’s history. This year’s Sweet Sixteen is loaded with quality teams, from the
The NCAA Tournament field is set. The favorite is Kentucky. My best first-round game to watch is SMU-UCLA, Larry Brown’s present against Larry Brown’s past. My favorite player is D’Angelo Russell of Ohio State. My old team, the Manhattan Jaspers, have a chance to earn a head-on collision with John Calipari’s SuperTeam. The best point guard not named Emmanuel Mudiay is … I’ll get to that. I promise: It’s here in this column, which runs a little long. My apologies, but I’ve got a lot
I once heard the statement in coaching, “if you are a great coach but a weak recruiter, you will get fired. But if you are a great recruiter and even a fair coach, you will survive.” Obviously, the goal is to be both. But it does explain the importance in college basketball of getting the best players. Ever since I started coaching, I have always been compared to John Calipari more than any other coach. I guess it’s because I made
H.G. Wells once said, “success is to be measured not by wealth, power, or fame, but by the ratio of what a man is, and what he can be.” Well, I know this to be true. The late Dean Smith was a giant of a man, a giant of a coach and lived a life that can be called unparalleled because he meant so much to so many. He built and sustained a legacy and a fraternity of players and coaches that
As a young college coach, I had the great fortune to meet and become extremely close to one of the most powerful figures in basketball, sneaker kingpin Sonny Vaccaro. Like many coaches, Sonny gave me my first adidas sneaker contract. But it was a story Sonny once shared with me as a young high school coach working his Nike All-American camp that has stayed with me for over 25 years. The story still resonates with me today as I reflect on