KJ’s BB Newsletter March 25, 2001
· Sad State of Affairs
· Bobby Knight
· Surprising ’91 Team Nearly Won it All
SAD STATE OF AFFAIRS
"This is a tough business," Georgia coach Jim Harrick said. "It's a very, very difficult business. It's a sad day in college basketball when a guy like Jerry Green gets fired. He had the best and second-best seasons in school history. He had one bad month and they want to fire him. It's embarrassing and deplorable."
Green’s record at Tennessee was 89-36, or 71.2% in his four years there. He took the Volunteers to the NCAA tourney all four years and reached the Sweet Sixteen last year, only the second time in the school’s history they had reached that far. His sin was that after going 16-1 and attaining No. 4 in the polls, the Vols collapsed and lost 10 of their last 16. Then they went one and out in the NCAA.
Tennessee athletic director Doug Dickey, who announced Green's resignation at a news conference, was adamant that Green wasn't forced out and was given the option to return. What a creep!
Green joined Roy Williams’ as his top assistant when Williams first came to KU in 1989. While at KU, Green helped the Jayhawks achieve a record of 103-30 (77.4%). He stayed four seasons on Mt. Oread before being picked as the head coach at Oregon, where he compiled an impressive record, propelling him to the job at Tennessee.
Should any respectable coach even think about going to work for Dickey? Unfortunately, there will be a line of aspiring coaches who will sell their soul for the Tennessee job. But whoever that is will never be comfortable knowing that they work for an asshole that will can him for winning only 70+ percent of his games? What a recipe for disaster! With that kind of pressure, don’t be too surprised in a couple of years when you hear that Tennessee gets slapped by the NCAA for rules violations.
The Clones are taking a big hit, losing four starters and a key reserve. All-American point guard Jamaal Tinsley is unquestionably the biggest loss for ISU. A transfer from San Jacinto JC, Tinsley had two great seasons in Ames, taking the Clones to the NCAA tourney twice with an overall record of 57-11 (83.8%). During his two years, he scored 950 points and grabbed 306 rebounds. Note: Unfortunately, ISU’s official web site has not updated the school’s career stats for at least two years (it doesn’t show any of Marcus Fizer’s results, for example), so I can’t tell you how this year’s Clones fared on the all-time ISU lists.
Tinsley’s running mate for the past two years has been Kantrail Horton, who transferred from Middle Georgia JC, scored 638 points and made 313 rebounds in his ISU career. Forward Martin Rancik, originally from Slovakia, came to ISU as a freshman from St. Louis Park, MN. Although struggling with injuries a good deal during his four years, he has joined the Clones 1,000-point club with 1,080 and nabbed 454 rebounds.
The 6’10 center Paul Shirley led the team in rebounds this past year with 215, making his career total of 552 caroms. He finished with 822 overall points. Supersub Richard Evans, another juco transfer, gave the Clones some valuable minutes this past year, including 105 rebounds.
These five players contributed 65% of the team’s scoring in 2001, 63% of the rebounds, 79% of its assists, and 81% of their steals. Their production will be sorely missed next year. Tinsley will go high in the NBA draft, and I expect him to develop into quite a player. Rancik is a long shot, but has some NBA potential if he can avoid injury long enough to gain a roster spot. I look to see Horton and Shirley be pretty good minor leaguers.
KU loses 7’ center Eric Chenowith, 6’5 swingman Kenny Gregory, and 6’10 shooting guard Luke Axtell, all guys who came to Kansas with great promise. A McDonald’s All-American, Chenowith was rated as one of the top 5 high school centers at Villa Park HS, where he averaged 21.0 points, 16.2 rebounds and 6.9 blocked shots his senior year. He looked promising as an underclassman, but his junior year was a disaster and while he had some moments this year, he wasn’t a whole lot better. Here’s a guy who, during KU’s five Big 12 and NCAA tournament games this year, only contributed 5.6 points, 5.2 rebounds and 0.8 blocks per game. What a bust… I’d rate him as one of KU’s all-time biggest disappointments. Because of his size, I expect he’ll be drafted, but I doubt if he will make it in the NBA.
Gregory had a fine senior season. He ended the year as the Jayhawks leading scorer, with 469 points, a 15.6 game average, with 7.3 rebounds per game. Overall he was a very good player, although did not quite match up to expectations brought about by being the MVP of the McDonald’s All-American game his senior year in high school. His athletic ability brought numerous comparisons to Michael Jordan, but the fact was that he never developed into the ‘go-to’ guy. He could make it in the NBA, but I doubt it, mainly because he’s a little undersized as a 3 and not good enough as a ball handler for the 2.
I’ve reported before of my excitement about Axtell’s transfer to Kansas after his stellar freshman year at Texas. He reminded me so much of Pistol Pete Maravich, with that angular body, loopy curls, and smooth outside shot. Unfortunately for Luke and KU, injuries upon injuries kept Axtell from living up to his promise. During his last two years, he only played in 39 of KU’s 67 games, and in both seasons he wasn’t there for the finish. As with Chenowith, a bust and big disappointment. Talent-wise, he could land a spot on a NBA roster, perhaps akin to Matt Bullard (tall guy who can can the three). But, don’t count on it.
Iowa loses 5’11 guard Dean Oliver, 6’3 guard Jason Smith, and 6’7 forward Joe Fermino, who quit the team earlier in the season. Oliver finished his career as one of Iowa’s better point guards, ranking fourth all-time in assists, sixth in career steals, and tied for 30th in scoring with 1,039 points. Though probably too small for the NBA, he’s good enough to make a living playing pro ball someplace.
Unheralded Smith gave the Hawks some good, even spectacular moments late this year, although only playing in 19 games. His heady play helped Iowa win the Big Ten tourney this year. Fermino was a non-factor this year, playing in only 5 games before dropping out. Neither will be seen on any pro rosters.
The Drake Bulldogs lose 6’4 point guard Lamont Evans, 6’4 f/g Aaron Thomas (who filled in nicely for Evans after Evans flunked out), and 6’9 forward Joey Gaw. Drake also does not show historical data on its basketball web site, so can’t show how these players ended up on the Dogs’ all-time list. Nonetheless, Evans was a stellar player who was named to the MVC All-Newcomer list last year and was on his way to being all-conference this year before being sidetracked by grades, ending his career at Drake. Gaw had a strong freshman year as a starter, and had since been a steady competitor both on and off the bench. Thomas has been a hard-nosed competitor all four years. He moved from the wing to starting point guard after Evans flunked out. These three contributed 26% of Drake’s scoring this past year and 28% of its rebounds. Although Evans may show up on a minor league roster, don’t look for these guys to make it in the pros.
My initial reaction to the news that Bobby Knight might be hired at Texas Tech was pretty negative. While you have to respect the fact that he ran a clean program and graduated his players at Indiana, I just never liked his bullying style of coaching, not to mention his boorish public behavior.
My opinion about Knight was solidified several years ago after speaking with Ricky Calloway who transferred to KU after having played on Knight’s 1987 national championship team. Calloway said that Knight had a need each season to incessantly bully a player or two. No matter what the player did, Knight would never let up. Calloway finally decided that he couldn’t thrive under that negative blanket.
However, after giving the matter some thought, I’ve changed my mind – for two reasons. First, Knight will bring some needed attention to the Big Twelve. Always relatively ignored by the east coast dominated media, the Big 12 will sorely need some attention after the sorry showing it made in this year’s NCAA tournament. Also, it’s always good to have someone around that you love to hate. What a better target than Bobby?
SURPRISING ’91 TEAM NEARLY WON IT ALL
(Excerpted from A Century of Basketball)
The 1990-91 Kansas team brought third-year coach Roy Williams his first conference title. But Jayhawk faithful had little reason to believe that they would take Williams to a Final Four. Kansas began Big Eight play 0-2. Later, there was a loss at Colorado and a stinging loss at Nebraska that would have given KU the league title outright. After a loss to Nebraska in the Big Eight Tournament, Kansas didn't exactly enter the NCAA Tournament with a head of steam.
The team gathered at Williams' house to watch the NCAA Tournament pairings. "I told my coaches that we've got to act really excited because I don't think our players will," Williams said. "And sure enough it was no big deal. But I was yelling. I was trying to get them to understand what a happy time this could be."
Kansas built momentum in the tournament, edging Tim Floyd's New Orleans team, 55-49 in the first round, followed by an 11-point win over Pittsburgh. At the regionals, KU jumped on Indiana early and won, 83-65. Suddenly the Jayhawks were the darlings of the tournament. Next up was No. 1-ranked Arkansas and its "40 minutes of hell" defense. At halftime, the Jayhawks were down 12 points and things didn't look good.
"There were times during the game when you're
sitting over there thinking, 'Well, maybe this is as far as this team should
go," said then assistant coach Mark Turgeon.
But the second half was all Kansas. With Mark Randall and Regional MVP
Alonzo Jamison leading the way, the Jayhawks emerged with a 93-81 win and a
Final Four berth.
Kansas beat North Carolina, Williams' alma mater, in the national semifinals, 79-73. But Duke, behind Christian Laettner, Grant Hill and Bobby Hurley, beat Kansas in the finals, ending a memorable run. "I didn't think there was any way we were going to lose the finals," Turgeon said. "The way we were going, I thought, man, we are playing so well."