Saturday, June 30, 2012
John Calipari becoming the head coach at the University of Kentucky couldn't have put two entities together that were made for each other more than those two. UK and Coach Cal are a match made in heaven. Whether you like it or not, UK is one of (if not "THE" right now) the elite basketball schools in the country with fans that Cal calls "crazy". And Coach Cal is not afraid to sell UK for what it is known for...a basketball school.
With UK's Anthony Davis going #1 and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist going #2, Coach Cal is lord over the NBA draft. In his three years at UK he has sent 11 players out the door in the first round of the NBA draft and had two #1's. The success he has had from an Elite Eight to a Final Four to the 2012 National Championship all the while using one and dones is exactly what UK fans want and is exactly what someone who is willing can do to take advantage of the current rules.
Do I think Coach Cal is developing these guys into NBA players, he isn't hurting, but what I do believe is that the recruiting that he does makes him the best in the college game. He isn't selling academics, academics, academics, then basketball, he is selling them both...equally and maybe with more of an emphasis on basketball. And it is working.
Let's be honest, Coach Cal is probably doing nothing wrong when it comes to recruiting (we can never know about anyone). But what he does is promise the top high school picks that they will go pro, and really, you cannot argue with his success rate on the court or in getting them to where they want to go. I don't like how he does things sometimes (call me old school on this one) but he isn't doing anything wrong. He has just circumvented the NCAA's belief that college is about academics for top athletes, it isn't. The NCAA is making millions off of these people who aren't allowed to take any type of salary which isn't right (call me new school on this one). (Sidenote: I read once that top math, science and other students get paid to attend elite universities. This way when they graduate and get a Nobel prize or do some other groundbreaking historical thing, the university will be associated with them...interesting, huh?)
ESPN analyst Jay Bilas said that at UK you won't have somebody "standing in the way of you accomplishing what you want." I agree completely. And as much as I disagree with how Cal does things at UK, he is winning and how is it any different for other sports or even non athletes? What is the job of college? To ultimately prepare you to make a living. If you can do that after one year, you do it. If a college baseball player leaves early for the draft, you don't hear many people getting upset about it. If a college freshman is a brilliant computer programmer and can get a job after one year making a million dollars, you don't hear anyone complaining about that, but you do with college basketball players. I will let others smarter than me (a whole lot of people think this) figure that out, but I have often wondered why there was a different standard.
Wrapping up, if I were a UK fan, I wouldn't like having a new team every single year, but I would enjoy winning and Coach Cal has had good guys (minus one or two) representing UK while they were there; I will put John Wall, Doron Lamb, Anthony Davis, Kidd-Gilchrist and others up against anyone when it comes to being role models on behavior on and off the court.
So good luck college world because while Coach Cal is at UK you have a combining of the perfect storm. It is ridiculous fiction according to Jay Bilas to believe that colleges are pursuing basketball players first as students. Coach Cal has proven that he is pursuing basketball players who will be drafted into the NBA, and he tells them so, and he does so while still winning games and championships.
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Here in the near future, I will be going on a mission trip with Athletes in Action. In resigning as basketball coach, sports ministry is something I definitely want to be more involved with at this time in my life. We are heading out soon and the amount of financial support I have needed, I have raised. I need no money from anyone, however, I will definitely take any prayer support you can dish out for me and my family, and really for the whole trip and those involved.
However, it has come to my attention recently that many of the players, people who don't have the same opportunities I do in raising financial support, are below the amount needed for the trip to break even. And that is really what we want more than anything. To be able to travel to a foreign country, share the gospel, and make sure that AIA doesn't lose money.
Unfortunately, in this world, money is needed for many things that can further the work of God. Hopefully, I am doing my small part in that furthering, but imagine what it will do in the lives of the players that will go, play basketball, and share their testimony and be transformed by the people they can help?
If anyone who reads this is interested in helping out financially, and I wouldn't ask if it weren't for the players, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I know that I have often wondered how I can do something to help others and it seems nothing comes along, or just falls in my lap, but this is something you can do.
You will be able to help someone do something that will be life changing not just for them, but for the people they come into contact with, including children. I will appeal to any part of you reading this to help because not only could you be the answer to a prayer, but you can write any donation off on your income taxes.
Please think, pray, meditate and ask yourself....am I doing enough?.....am I doing anything? I know that what little we do is non comparable to other ministries going on, but this one is important to us, right now.
Thanks....hope to hear from some of you soon and God bless you whether you help financially, with prayer, or not at all.
Thursday, June 21, 2012
Thurday, I went down to Kye's II to listen to IU coach Tom Crean, Bellarmine coach Scotty Davenport, and Hall of Famer and former U of L coach Denny Crum speak and take questions from 400 people. The Raise the Bar for Kids event benefits Greater Clark County Schools raising money and highlighting that corporations academic successes and does a great job in doing both.
By the time I was 16 years of age, both of my grandfathers (Gilbert Hunter and Frank Jones) had passed away. I will be honest, I missed out not having them around. The main reason is that around 16 - 23 years old is when you become really, really stupid as a male. You think you know everything and you don't know anything and you sure as heck will not listen to your Dad (sorry Dad). It would have been nice to have someone like a grandfather around to head me in the better direction that my father wanted for me. I have substituted different men like that in my life from Ed Carroll of Nabb to Jerry Jones from Jeffersonville, but they have left my life for one reason or another through the years.
But, maybe because of that lack of an elder to sit and listen to stories and values and just life in general, I enjoy being around people like the coaches at the Raising the Bar event. To listen to these three men tell stories especially Coach Crum is to have that elder to sit and listen to. Yes, you are sharing him with 400 other people, but you appreciate (at least at my age) his experiences, his humor, and his humility. His experience and opinions come so easily to people like me who struggle day to day over silly things, and Coach Crum responds to questions like it is so "matter of fact" what you should do.
To listen to these three men answer questions and talk about what is important, from Davenport talking about Jeremy Kendle and Braydon Hobbs wanting to help in Henryville during the D2 NCAA tournament; to Crum (enough said), to Crean actually interviewing Coach Crum at one point, is priceless. Coach Crean, no dummy, realizes when he is around people that he can learn from and he did ask Coach Crum about Crum's defense and other basketball questions. To watch those two interact was well worth the price of admission.
In the last year and a half, if you follow Coach Crean on Twitter, you will have noticed that his tweets have changed. He has become more faith based retweeting some strong Christian leaders. As a Christian, I appreciate it, and I asked a question at the event: When an IU player graduates or leaves the program what are 3 things you hope they take with them from their experiences at IU.
Coach Crean replied that he wants his players to be selfless. He wants them to go out in the world and help expecting nothing in return but to do it because it is the right thing to do. He wants his players to be able to go out in the world and be problem solvers - in life we often deal with so many things that has no manual, you have to figure it out on your own. Finally, he wants his players to be the spiritual leaders of their families - he wants them to be the example that their families see and follow.
As I have aged, I realize how little I know and that older guys have so much knowledge to share. The problem is, most of the time, we are either ig-nor-ant or ig-nor-ing these bastians of knowledge, these people who can make our lives easier that we don't take advantage of it. I heard this recently about parents who mess up with their children, but it can also go vice versa when it comes to our elders. Be careful believing you have an unlimited amount of tomorrows and then wake up one day with no more todays.
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Thursday, June 14, 2012
First for the varsity coaches, and second for the players to show their level of commitment to the program, to the coach, and to their teammates in the summer. It is not for any fan other than those fans who want to watch high school basketball in the summer with an understanding that summer basketball often means very little for what comes in the winter; I will explain later.
Unfortunately, some fans do not understand this. You can get on just about any message board and fans are judging and deciding how good a team will be in January, by what they are doing in June. Please do not do that, there are so many factors about summer teams and games. And it will not help your team to have unnecessary expectations or lack thereof before basketball conditioning even begins in August.
When I coached (somehow that sounds worse to me than "when I played"), we often had a relatively high level of commitment by those we knew were going to play, especially upper classmen. I think why that happened is we tried to make the tournaments we played in to be enjoyable experiences during the summer by visiting colleges and historical places that dealt with Indiana high school basketball. We also worked on offense all summer, trying to work out kinks and we all know kids like offense better than defense so I feel that brought many of our guys in.
We always went out of town for these tournaments. We wanted to get away and have bonding experiences, but also stay away from those eyes that would decide how good or not we would be in March by how we played in June. Plus, I didn't like playing teams on our schedule because I was worried we would get a false sense of security or insecurity by what happened in June. Either way is not right or wrong, it is just how we did it. Probably, if I were to be a head coach again, I would play in some of these leagues closer to home, also.
Coaches in June (and I can't speak for all of them) are trying to see what level of commitment wannabe varsity players will give to be part of that experience come season time. Coaches will work in new players who were either J.V. or role players the season before. Everything that many coaches do in June is to be prepared in November when you get 13 practices before your first game. You want to be able to hit the ground running and not starting from the very beginning before playing a game, often a rival game.
Now as for the average basketball fan who does catch some summer games, much of what you see during June is an illusion. Often teams are missing players, coaches are playing players in different situations, they may even be playing everyone equally or a different style. There has been little practice to work on nuances of offense, or the gridning out of defense, so keep that in mind. Keep that in mind when Eastern beats Brownstown, or Borden beats Scottsburg, or some team doesn't win as many games, or some other teams wins a bunch, or some other game that makes you raise eyebrows. Put those eyebrows down and realize there are many issues at hand.
With all of that being said, if you want to watch high school boys teams playing hard and working and preparing for the winter, head out to Charlestown H.S. on Mondays and Wednesdays and Salem H.S. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I went a couple of nights the last two weeks and saw Rock Creek, Crothersville, Henryville, Clarksville, Providence, Borden, Scottsburg, Salem, Eastern (Pekin), Brownstown, Trinity Lutheran and others. And you cannot beat the cost....0$.
You will not see the efficiency and execution of February, but you will see kids competing for positions, playing time, or just flat out pride for their school. Games usually start around 5:30 to 6:00 and end around 9 PM. Sit back, relax and enjoy watching kids get to be kids and understand that summer means a lot to those people on the court, and very little to those in the stands.
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
When I went to see the movie "Courageous" (and really the 8 or 9 times after) the entire movie builds up to this final scene "Adam's Speech". When I youtubed it and watched it again this morning, it brings forth so many emotions which ultimately may be the greatest Christian motivation speech for fathers...ever.
Except The Bible of course.
Fathers and mothers, both, please take time and watch this 3:00 section of the final speech and if you aren't motivated, check your pulse.
Sunday, June 10, 2012
The Indiana All Stars defeated Kentucky again for the sweep this past weekend. I am sure if you weren't paying attention, you missed it (this used to be a huge deal series). What's going on in this rivalry? It was a rivalry that used to be more competitive and draw more fans, what has happened to the Kentucky side of this for the boys' series and really the Indiana side as well. We win, but the crowds are down.
Indiana's boys' are 88-42 winning 26 of the last 29 games. What has happened? Indiana is a larger state, but Kentucky's consolidation has many larger schools. Is Class basketball an answer because Indiana has dominated in the years since 1998. Why isn't the one class type tournament in Kentucky, if it is so superior, not lending to these kids who are obviously learning better life lessons (tongue in cheek) when it comes to competing against their counterparts in Indiana?
Kentucky's high school history is long, storied, and I enjoy reading about it and I even attend one day of their Sweet 16 in March, but they cannot beat Indiana anymore. There are even UK fans that take pride in the fact that Indiana beats Kentucky. How does that make sense? You root for Indiana kids when they play against Kentucky high school players, but once they don the uniform of their local college, you suddenly root for the other state? Do you support the buildings in Kentucky over the players you supported months before?
Look at the talent level of high school players in Indiana, you can take the less than best players from the state and make the national championship game two years in a row (Butler). UK rarely wants the best players in its state. UK fans should thank the Lord that Darius Miller went to UK and stayed because his Kentucky pride and senior leadership was huge with that group last year, I am sure. I have so much respect for guys like Darius Miller, who go to their home state school, play with passion and win a national championship. His senior year of high school was one of the best all star teams Kentucky has had in the recent past, and Indiana's was ummmm, not so good, and we split!
I actually had someone compare Indiana (4A) to Kentucky (2A) when it came to the all star game. Don't they select the 12 or 13 best from each state? Isn't it just 5 on 5 on the court? And if Indiana's talent is so superior, why don't they destroy Kentucky instead of winning close games? I believe it is because we have so many dominantly talented players, that it is hard to get them to play as a "team", but in Kentucky (whose Mr. Basketball is going to Boston University), those guys know that they must defer to the better one or two players and play together to have a chance (which I highly respect from their coaching staff and players).
Indiana high school basketball is not what it was in the 50's, not the 70's, not the 90's, but it is still superior to the state that we are often compared to. We have better players and better coaches. We have a better understanding of what the game should be, and our coaches teach fundamentals in a different, special way. Indiana high school basketball is the elite of the two states.
However, Kentucky high school basketball is special. It is Ballard vs. Scott County, it is Paintsville vs. Johnson Central, it is the Muhlenberg rivalries, it is long, historical and special. Kentucky high school basketball is something that I enjoy watching each season because it is so special, but they are not as good as we are. And when you think about it, Kentucky as second to us still makes them better than 48 other states.
I realize that these are my opinions and don't make me right. I realize that there are many more opinions about what is right and wrong with this series. I just hope that this series doesn't go the way of the IU vs. UK regular season series and dies because, win or lose for Indiana and Kentucky, it is a special event. It is a way to showcase the two greatest states when it comes to high school basketball.
Thursday, June 7, 2012
|(IU Football Coach Kevin Wilson, IU Women's Basketball Coach Curt Miller, me, and IU Men's Basketball Coach Tom Crean)|
I attended the IU Tailgate tour recently and.....yep, I cannot find any words to describe the night, unbelievable for sure.
Go to the 4:20 mark to see what I mean.
Sunday, June 3, 2012
Two weeks ago with about two days left before school was out, I received a text from the new Crothersville boys' basketball coach Greg Kilgore. Coach Kilgore asked something I had never been asked before (probably because I was also coaching) and that was to come and talk to his team. Crothersville is located in Jackson county, has had limited success in the last 20 years, but for a 1A team, they were as good as anyone around this year. They had size, a point guard who was intelligent and coachable, and a very good coach in Clint Waskom.
Coach Kilgore is a lifer at Crothersville. He played there and has helped with coaching for many years. Coach Clint Waskom decided after the season, he didn't want to coach varsity basketball anymore, right now (sounds familiar) and Coach Kilgore tried to find someone to take over, but he applied also. He was then rewarded the honor of coaching. I asked Coach when I was up the other day if he felt like his shoulders were heavier...he laughed and agreed. He has inherited a team that lost that size and point guard. He has inherited a team with little experience returning. But he has inherited a program run by Coach Waskom and stamped by the talented senior class and their work ethic that just graduated recently.
Back to the story, Coach Kilgore and I have spoken a few times about basketball and about what books we are reading. When he asked, I was honored to head up and do what he asked. I spoke to the team about 3 important things.
1. Because it was summer basketball, I felt compelled to talk about that. One of the criticisms of people about summer basketball is that coaches demand too much, maybe some do, maybe some don't, but the criticism is that we need to back off and "let kids be kids". I couldn't agree more, but....how many adults do you know that wouldn't quit their jobs to play sports all week, hang out with friends, and other cool things in the summer...yea, I thought so that's why I chose education.
2. I can be way more honest with players now that I don't coach. I can tell them what are definite things that tear teams apart, what the odds that any of them will play college basketball and about how each coach is trying to win games. No coach is intentionally trying to lose. They may try to teach lessons, but they will still try to win. Some people actually think that coaches are only coaching for their selfish desire, but they do want to win. If a player isn't playing, or is, or the coach is running some sort of offense or defense, they are trying to win.
3. Finally, I touched on what is the most important thing in life. They are playing basketball, so they should take it serious...it is basketball in Indiana for gosh sakes! But I knew this before the tornado on March 2, but it became even more obvious after that day, that life is about relationships. I personally believe that number 1 is your relationship with Jesus Christ, however, I know that not everyone feels this way, but I do think the most important second thing is your relationship with others. How do you treat people? How long do you hold on to that poisonous resentment over something petty or even something not petty? How often do you ignore people that need you, that you might be an answer to a prayer?
That's why when Coach Kilgore texted and then we spoke, I made sure that I was able to find a time and day soon to do what my friend asked. I would do just about anything to help coaches because we have shared experiences and problems and stresses. Crothersville's players are not known by me other than a scouting report, but if I could give them something that they could use, good. Hopefully, I did give them something at best, at worst, I was able to help a friend in Coach Kilgore.
We have three options when dealing with people, we can tear them down (anonymous message boards), we can be indifferent (which is sometimes worse than tearing someone down), or we can help. I believe it takes about as much effort to do any of those three things, as an assistant coach, as a head coach, as an administrator, and most importantly as a fan or parent.