Before shifting to Basketball Season III – spring recruit signings this week – and before coach carousel rumors, what-ifs and third-guesses carry us away – a few reflections on Seasons I and II.
First, John Calipari leaving Kentucky any time soon is circle talk in Coaching Carousel prime time. Circle Talk is gossip based on insufficient facts to support a conclusion. In sports blog parlance – “throw (something) against a wall and sees if it sticks.”
Peter Vecsey, columnist for the New York Post, tossed a “Calipari may be on the Knicks radar” idea against a wall and, for blogger Gary Parrish, it stuck.
Having blogged last spring that Calipari would leave Kentucky with John Wall, Eric Bledsoe and the others, Parrish had a new post last Friday: “… similar to how I stated that Calipari would’ve left Kentucky last year for the opportunity to coach LeBron James, I have no doubt Calipari would leave Kentucky this year for the opportunity to coach Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony (and perhaps Chris Paul) with the Knicks.”
No doubt? Really.
From a Vecsey speculation, Parrish has made a long crawl out on a short limb. Reasoning that coaching Anthony, Stoudamire and others would be a vertical career move is a head scratcher. Lost to Parrish’s quick draw are these factoids – Cal works in Mecca; enjoys Elvis-level worship; every game’s a sellout Rupp Arena, in Maui, in Madison Square Garden; gubernatorial candidates pant for his endorsement. Oh, and celebrity row seats at the Kentucky Derby.
Cal just stuffed a third Final Four in his pocket and the bonus bucks that go with it. His pay is a profession-best $4 million a year with perks. And, a number one rated recruiting class, including three-four one-and-dones, is on the way.
Begs the question: Would a sane man trade away all this for a chance to deal with prima donna(s) Anthony, Stoudemire et al?
No. But it’s happened before.
It was 23 spring- times ago Rick Pitino, with an NCAA championship team at his door step, chucked it all for the Boston Celtics. Was worst decision of his life. By returning to coach Louisville, Pitino forfeited virtually all goodwill in Kentucky and his one-time icon status was shattered then stomped on by scandal.
All things considered, Vecsey’s idea and Parrish’s blog, won’t stick on the wall. Calipari to the Knicks is circle talk.
Cal, Travis Ford Overpaid?
From Forbes.com: “… look(ing) at performance, it’s clear that some of the top earners aren’t delivering any better results than lower-paid coaches. At the top of our list of the 10 most overpaid: Kentucky’s John Calipari, by all accounts an excellent coach but whose $4 million annual salary, highest in the country doesn’t add up relative to his peers. Over 19 seasons at Massachusetts, Memphis and Kentucky, Calipari has sizzled along with a .769 career winning percentage while taking teams to 13 NCAA tournaments. Yet he’s been to the Final Four just twice (actually three), and never won a national championship. It’s a body of work that most coaches would envy, but it’s also comparable to those of Thad Matta of Ohio State, Rick Barnes of Texas and Tubby Smith of Minnesota, none of whom make more than $2.5 million a year.
Just behind Calipari on the overpaid list: Travis Ford of Oklahoma State (.559 winning percentage, three tournament bids in 11 years) and Oliver Purnell of DePaul (.570 winning percentage, six tournaments in 23 years), both raking in $1.8 million a season.
• Mr. Basketball Anthony Hickey had 14 points and seven assists against Ohio all-stars last weekend. Kid could be special. May be headed to Butler, but for books and ball, the Christian County native could be a fan favorite at Western Kentucky.
• In three Kentucky cities, new banners will be hoisted into the rafters. At East Kentucky Expo Arena, Pikeville College, NAIA champions 2011; Knights Hall, Bellarmine University, Division II champions 2011; and Rupp Arena. University of Kentucky celebrates its 14th record Final Four.
• Come from Nowhere to Somewhere at Kentucky. Who advanced farther than Josh Harrellson? Could be a 140-pound kid at Farmington High in Graves County who was a Mississippi JUCO recruited to UK. Adrian Smith helped earn an NCAA title in 1958, became NBA All-Star MVP on to College Basketball Hall of Fame.
• Ahead of April 24 deadline, leaving for the NBA Draft list grows. Last week, Kyrie Irving said so-long to Duke where he logged 303 minutes in 11 games. ESPN’s NBA DraftTracker board projects – Enes Kanter 6th; Brandon Knight 10th; Terrence Jones 11th; and Kenneth Faried 17th.
• Best of the Best List. Jared Sullinger will return to Ohio State; Tyler Zeller and John Henson return to North Carolina. Watch the NBA filing list grow until April 24.
• Worth Repeating Dept. Rivals.com basketball writer: “How can you predict the fortunes of a (Kentucky) team that could be relying heavily on guys who haven’t even begun their college careers yet? Then again, why shouldn’t we go ahead and assume Kentucky will have one of the nation’s elite teams next season?”
• Barely 100 weeks until Big Blue Madness and Fox- Sports jumped in early with it college hoops rankings. Predicting Brandon Knight and Terrence Jones won’t return, Fox ranks: Kentucky No. 1, followed by Ohio State, Syracuse, Louisville, Duke and North Carolina. Fox includes, Vanderbilt 8th and Butler 9th.
• Bellarmine’s Scotty Davenport stands at the summit of his career after being named national coach of the year for Division II by fellow coaches. Next season Davenport can demonstrate his genius anew when the Knights take their 33-2 record on the road to Duke, Xavier and UofL.
• Steffphon Pettigrew. Sun Belt player of the year in 2011, Mr. Basketball in 2007, is a 6-5, 230-pound Chuck Hayes-type destined to make a few dollars playing this kid’s game.
• Mark Gottfried. ex-Alabama coach turned television analyst, we are happy to see return to coaching, at North Carolina State. Gottfried was moving up the ranks of talking heads who speak many words and say nothing.
• Viewing the NCAA title game 1958 (Wahoo Sports) was an eye-opener. Contrary to popular legend, while Vernon Hatton and Johnny Cox provided offense, 30 and 24 points, and John Crigler added 14 points and 14 rebounds, star of the Game could well have been Don Mills off the bench. The Berea native had nine critical points and seven rebounds. MVP – Elgin Baylor, with 25 points and 19 rebounds.
And so it goes.
You may reach Bob Watkins at Sprtsinky@aol.com