SDBB – Calipari to the Hall of Fame … Seriously ???

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Every once in a while, something happens in sports that makes you shake your head, and shout out “Seriously ???” to no one in particular. I had that very reaction when I heard that John Calipari was being inducted into the Naismith College Basketball Hall of Fame.

How could such an august body make such an incredible blunder, and in doing so, spit in the face of everything that is good, true, and beautiful about college basketball ???

So, please allow me to outline why I think that this is the current biggest travesty in the sport …

A.    There are only 5 active coaches enshrined in the Hall of Fame:

  1. Coach K, the undisputed “winningest” coach of all time …
  2. Larry Brown, currently with SMU …
  3. Jim Boeheim, of Syracuse …
  4. Roy Williams of North Carolina …
  5. Rick Pitino, presently at Louisville …

Does any right-minded college basketball fan, with decades of watching our sport, really think the name of John Calipari deserves to be uttered in the same breath as these greats ???

If you don’t believe me, check out the retired coaches in the Hall of Fame. You will be astounded that this man was inducted, and his career will stand next to theirs.

Oh, and speaking of his career, here are some highlights:

B.     When he was the Head Coach at UMASS, their 1996 Big Dance appearance and win were vacated. Regardless of what anyone tells you, the Head Coach is the leader of his team, so he is responsible for this, in full or in part.  I’ll bet UMASS paid no attention to his induction !!!

C.    Interestingly, to insulate himself from the UMASS scandal, he left UMASS to deal with his failings and grief.  He took a job with the New Jersey Nets, where he was an abject failure.  The degree of his failure was such that he was fired, and left to accept an Assistant’s job with Larry Brown of the Philadelphia 76ers.

D.     Eventually, he found another college looking for a Head Coach.  This time, Memphis was his stop, and he brought all his potions.  His teams did quite well, that is until crunch time, when they endemically missed Free Throws.  Further to the problems, there were vacated wins, and appearances in the Big Dance due to fraud allegations surrounding player recruiting.  Once again, he cared not about a player’s academics.

I must stress that I have always considered the Head Coach responsible for everything that goes on with his players, so his complacency must be duly noted.  If you don’t believe me, just ask the NCAA, who has created a violation of a “… failure to maintain an atmosphere of compliance …” in their ByLaw #11.1.2.1 which also notes that: “… a head coach is presumed to have knowledge of all activities, including non-compliant activities, occurring within his or her programme …”

Thus, they have striped away any defense of “plausibility deniability”…

Calipari would depart under the cover of darkness, mute about the subject, leaving Memphis high and dry.  He cared not about his contract, nor loyalty to the people who hired him out of the abyss of unemployment !!!

They would also suffer the wrath of the NCAA, but in my book, they should have come down hard on Calipari.  America has had a “Teflon President” and a “Teflon Don” so I say we now have a “Teflon Coach” who was wrongly inducted in to the Hall of Fame.

By the Way:   When Memphis heard of his induction, they very publicly cancelled any observance of his being there.  It’s kind of like the Professor in “Moonstruck” who instructed his Waiter to “… take everything away, remove any reminder of her …” This was the angst that still lingers in Memphis !!!

E.    It was at Memphis that I gave him the moniker of “Cal-the-Lip” because he, in my estimation, was all talk, so please indulge me if I use this moniker henceforth.

He would recruit kids and tell them he would guarantee they would get to the NBA.  He didn’t talk about an education … instead, he talked about an instant pathway to the NBA.  Hence, he became the propitiator of the “One-and-Done” recruit.  A kid who came to college only because the NBA wouldn’t let him in right out of High School.  A kid who only needed to mislead his Professors until the last game of the season, then never to darken the door of a classroom again.  His coaching credentials were suspect, but boy-oh-boy, could he sell a kid on a path to those greenbacks !!!

Personally, I consider him immoral, unethical, and nefarious.  He is the purveyour of the worst message to kids all over the country – That basketball alone will get you to “The Big Time” where money grows on trees, even if you are a functional illiterate.  If you don’t believe me, just look at how many kids actually make it in the NBA versus the kids who never make it.

F.     So, “Cal-the-Lip” would take his “Snake Oil Salesman” act, full of potions and promises.  He would offer these to kids as an easy fix to stardom, by coming to Kentucky to do nothing but play ball.  Grades and studies were for “others,” but not if you were in Cal’s programme !!!  He would encapsulate his belief system to each recruit when he said “Win or lose at the college level, I can make you rich.”

Kentucky is a school that has had a variety of coaches thru the years.  Most notably was Adolph Rupp, who was an avowed racist, refusing to recruit Black kids until he was essentially forced to in 1969.  He was the coach during a famous point shaving scandal that caused the NCAA to give Kentucky the very first “death penalty.”

They had their “ups” and “downs” – The “ups” being Rick Pitino and Tubby Smith (a black coach rumoured to have been fired by pressure from racist alumni), and the “downs” being Tubby’s “successor” – Billy Gillispie and his alcohol problems.

The stage was set. A school hungry for wins and championships would sell their souls to a carpetbagger who would change college basketball for the worst.  They hired a guy who was under constant scrutiny because of his basketball milieu … a personality who would always have asterisks all over his bio.

He would strip away the idea that a Student Athlete is a student first, and an athlete second.  Matriculation was no longer important or a goal, just a path to the NBA.  He essentially set the idea that college basketball is nothing more than a developmental league for the NBA, and no one noticed that, or cared because Kentucky won !!!

G.   Remember now, that while “Cal-the-Lip” escaped from any type of punishment, those appearances and wins still stand vacated.  They were never expunged, regardless of what Kentucky’s Publicity Department tells you !!!

H.     Last, but certainly not least, was that infamous moment in 2010. After a mediocre season, “Cal-the-Lip” accompanying four (4) of his “one-and-done” players and one (1) Junior to the NBA Draft.  They were all drafted.  Afterward, he uttered:

 I’d like to say it is the biggest day in the history of Kentucky’s program … the biggest day for the University of Kentucky.”

Even Kentucky alums scoffed at his assertion. The most succinct comment was from Dan Issel, an iconic Hall of Fame Kentucky alum.  He said:

“The dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.”   “If the goal is to be a feeder team for the NBA, maybe that was the greatest day.  I thought the goal was to win a National Championship.”

Of course, he was forced to retract the statement, but I maintain that what a man says in an unguarded moment is a window to his mind, heart, and soul.  Cal is not interested in anything else but being, as Issel said, ” … a feeder team for the NBA …”   That is NOT what any sport, especially college basketball, ought to be about.

So, there you have it, my reasoning that college basketball.  I simply do not understand why guys like Dick Vitale would elevate the equivalent of Rasputin to Hall of Fame level.  Sure, Vitale would obsess on him because he showed up at gala “Jimmy V Foundation” fundraisers, but is it really faire ???

What grand contribution to college basketball, or basketball in general has “Cal-the-Lip” actually made ???  He won games, got plenty of his kids into the NBA.  That is not what college sports and the Student Athlete is all about.  The NCAA puts all those feel-good commercials during college games, but then they turn a blind eye to a charlatan like this guy ???

I think it is so terribly wrong that I asked Ro if I could please publish this article, with it being outside our normal focus, because SOMEONE needed to say it !!!

I’m open to any and all comments about my position, but please remember that we expect proper decorum.  In other words, if you’re a gentleman or a gentlewoman, we welcome you and your thoughts on this.

Thank you for listening !!!

 

As always, we welcome your comments either here or at our Twitter site:

@SimplyDukeBB

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Duke’s Top 10 Players Under Coach K – By the Numbers – Part #2

SDBB - Duke's Top 10 Players Under Coach K - By the Numbers Collage

Continuing our countdown, by the numbers, we have the Top 5 players who earned their spots with an even higher level of accomplishments, earning them points. 

Just to remind you, Ro came up with a brilliant idea of giving each player points for certain accomplishments. He assigned a point value to everything a player could be part of, be awarded, and other accolades he could earn. 

All of these players won All American and All Conference honours. They all garnered points for making appearances in the Big Dance right on thru to the Final Four. 

So, here is the 2nd installment, here are

Duke’s Top 5 Players Under Coach K … By the Numbers:

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#5 – Shelden Williams

Bermuda Bob:

Shelden is the next player on our list to accomplish great things at Duke but never winning a National Championship.  He is, however, the first guy on our list to be a Defensive Player of the Year – twice !!!  He was an All-Time NCAA Statistical Leader 3 times.

Rowan:

Affectionately called “The Landlord” because he did all his work in the paint.  He played with another Top 10 player, but neither was a sidekick. More like 2 Batman characters dominating in their own fields, which was symbiotic each to each the other.  He is one of a handful of players to ever average a “double-double” (points and rebounds) at Duke throughout a season. Williams did it twice.  He is also the all time leader at Duke in Blocked Shots.

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#4 – Grant Hill

Bermuda Bob:

Grant joined Bobby Hurley in those 2 National Championships, was Coach K’s first Defensive Player of the Year.  He led in plenty of our categories, but will always be remembered best for that “baseball pass” against Kentucky.

Rowan:

Recently Duke saw 4 Freshmen winning a National Championship, but Grant Hill was the original freshman to do so.  In 1990, UNLV embarrassed Duke in the Championship game by 30 points. Duke went home got their big brother (or in this case little brother) in the form of Freshman phenom (Hill) and came back to win their 1st Championship.

Previously Duke couldn’t keep up with the athletes on UNLV, but with a new game plan and the athletic Grant Hill in the line up, Duke prevailed in the Final Four over the Runnin’ Rebels by 2 points, then went on to top Kansas for Coach K’s 1st ever Championship.

Then Grant Hill returned to help Duke win another Championship.

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#3 – JJ Reddick

Bermuda Bob:

JJ never won the Big One, but won every Player of the Year honour available, multiple times.  He was also twice Conference Tourney MVP.  He led many of the categories multiple times.

Rowan:

When JJ arrived in Durham he found himself in a class that was 6 strong and wasn’t exactly the cream of the crop.  He wasn’t exactly ship-shaped but he had a beautiful shot.  In the subsequent 4 years he put some work on his body, on his game, and at the end of it, he became Duke’s All-Time Leading Scorer as well as one of Duke’s most entertaining players.  He was the Batman to Shelden William’s Batman, and though they came up short over and over again it, was a pleasure to watch their journey while in Blue.

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#2 – Shane Battier

Bermuda Bob:

Shane is my personal All Time Favourite, not because of the multiple awards he won, but because he had that special ability to make each team he was on better.  He won National Defensive Player of the Year 3 times, logged in plenty of other POY honours as well.  He is the only player to be All Academic, and he did it twice !!!  Oh, by the way, he was a Final Four MVP.

Rowan:

Naturally a Small Forward, Shane mixed it up as a Pivot while at Duke. Both a very good Shot Blocker and Three Point Shooter.  He was the ultimate competitor.  He’s probably the missing piece why Duke did not repeat as champions in 2002.

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#1 – Christian Laettner

Bermuda Bob:

How could anyone be surprised that Christian led everyone by a mile ??? He is the only guy to log in 2 Final Four MVP’s, 2 NCAA All-Time Stat Leader, and a Hall of Fame.  He was also National Player of the Year. Considering the present environment of not staying for 4 years, I honestly doubt if anyone will be able to surpass him.

Rowan:

Dawkins took Duke to Coach K’s 1st Final Four.  Ferry helped Duke to 3 Final Fours.  Then Laettner, who apprenticed under Ferry as a Freshman, went on to take Duke to 3 Final Fours.  He brought Coach K his 1st and 2nd National Championships.

Laettner is also in very rare company as a Player who played in 4 straight Final Four games.

Thanks for the read …

Please know we hope you enjoyed it, and welcome you to weigh in with your comments either here or our Twitter site: 

@SimplyDukeBB

 

 

Duke’s Top 10 Players Under Coach K – By the Numbers – Part #1

SDBB - Duke's Top 10 Players Under Coach K - By the Numbers Collage

Every Duke fan of the last 35 years has his/her favourite players, and can usually make a list based on purely subjective reasoning.  We sought to see if there could be a completely objective ranking of those players since Coach K took the helm.

Ro came up with a brilliant idea of giving each player points for certain accomplishments.  He assigned a point value to everything a player could be part of, be awarded, and other accolades he could earn.

All of these players won All American and All Conference honours. They all garnered points for making appearances in the Big Dance right on thru to the Final Four.  All but one had their jersey retired.

So, in 2 installments, here are:

“Duke’s Top 10 Players Under Coach K … By the Numbers”

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#10 – Kyle Singler

Bermuda Bob:

Kyle was the type of player every coach dreams of having. He played on a Championship Team, and was a Final Four MVP, and got plenty of points in between. While he was the only guy to earn Conference Rookie of the Year, he is that lone player not to have his jersey retired.

Rowan:

Singler was the last player to start all four years at Duke and more than likely will be the last do so for a while in this “one and done” climate. He was a consistent and steady force throughout his time at Duke.

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#9 – Johnny Dawkins

Bermuda Bob:

Johnny was Coach K’s superstar. He benefitted greatly by Tommy Amaker, who did not make the list. Johnny won National Player of the Year honours, was All-Rookie, and an all-time NCAA Stat Leader. He was the first of Coach K’s kids to have his jersey retired.

Rowan:

Johnny Dawkins was the foundation, Coach K’s original game changing recruit. He was a 6’2″ player who dominated in a time when the game belonged to the Pivots. Dawkins was Duke’s All-Time Leading Scorer until JJ Reddick surpassed him.

 

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#8 – Bobby Hurley

Bermuda Bob:

Bobby will be remembered as the Quarterback of Coach K’s 1st and 2nd National Championships. He got plenty of points for accomplishments, while being awarded a Final Four MVP.

Rowan:

Today, Point Guards tend to be overly athletic or huge. Bobby Hurley was neither of those, being a skillful heady Point Guard. I wonder if Tyus Jones would ever have risen to Hurley’s level if the NBA wasn’t so appealing.

 

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#7 – Danny Ferry

Bermuda Bob:

Danny will be forever remembered for the many accolades and appearances he made, but he never led a team to a National Championship. He was National Player of the year, and Conference Tourney MVP, his only one.

Rowan:

If Johnny Dawkins was the foundation recruit for Coach K, Danny Ferry got him over that hump between “one hit wonder” and contender. Ferry lead Duke to 3 Final Fours. An incredible achievement as not many players have done so while setting records in Scoring, Rebounds and Assists. He never won a Championship, however, he set the stage for a certain player (to be named later) in waiting to emerge and take Duke to the promised land.

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#6 – Jason Williams

Bermuda Bob:

Jason (now Jay) led Duke to Coach K’s next National Championship. For everything he is remembered for, his National Player of the Year stands out in many minds. Surprisingly, Jay never earned Conference honours, but he did break Dick Groat’s 49 year scoring record. He also won the Wooden and the Naismith Awards. Jay played only 3 years. If he had stayed another year and continued his performances, he would have certainly been higher on our list.

Rowan:

I will always remember Jay Williams not for his Championships, or any accolades he received at Duke, but for one game, “The Miracle Minute.” Maryland was at home, leading Duke by 10 points, back in 2001. They were all ready to celebrate their victory over the Blue Devils when Williams put in a brilliant piece of basketball, hardly ever to be repeated, scoring 8 points to send the game into Overtime, where Duke eventually prevailed. An incredible achievement when you consider that the foundation of that Maryland team would win the NCAA Championship a year later. You can find the highlight game here.

 

Thanks for the read …

Check with Us Tomorrow for the last 5 Guys

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@SimplyDukeBB