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Thursday, April 13, 2006

Notes from the Geetar: Lost in the Angst

posted by Mike Coffey
I'm still trying to figure out how to implement the "NftG" heading in this thing. For now, I'll use it for compendium-like posts that lack a central theme. Like that doesn't describe half my work.

With all the hand-wringing recently about the need or lack thereof for coaching staff changes and the deplorable state of ND's basketball facilities, some other things have been going on.

How Finicky is Morris?

The news that Tim Morris is seeking a transfer from Stanford pricked up a few ears in Irishtown. ND finished a close second to the Cardinal in 2002 when the wingman made his college choice, and reports indicate the Irish have stayed on his mind. Our favorite Bootie had this to say:

He asked, and Stanford complied, for his release to be sent to five schools - most or all of which were also active with him when he was recruited four years ago out of Whitefield Academy outside of Atlanta (Ga.). Morris had his release sent to Notre Dame, Georgia Tech, Georgia, North Carolina State and Florida. All of those schools now have permission to speak with him, though no official visits have yet been scheduled.

In his final decision in the spring of 2002, Morris chose Stanford over Notre Dame and Georgia Tech. While the other four schools are closer to home, the early money is on the Irish. Morris was very fond of Mike Brey and had a hard time saying no to Notre Dame when he was originally recruited out of high school.

Mike Eubanks, "The Bootleg"

While it's nice to see a former Irish target coming home to roost, this move is far from a slam dunk. If Morris is making his move in the interest of playing time, an already-crowded Irish backcourt might not be the place. Then again, he would provide senior leadership in a currently very-small class and perhaps help move the scholarship loads back into balance.

2-in-4 No More

In a move perhaps expected now that the NCAA owns the NIT, the association's Management Council has recommended the 2-in-4 rule, which limited a team to two appearances in exempted preseason tournaments, be scrapped. It will be voted on at the next NCAA meetings and is expected to pass easily.

The shout you just heard probably came from the organizers of the Guardians Classic and other such events, who have had a devil of a time attracting prime talent the last few years while the heavy hitters were under this stricture. This will enable them to drastically improve the quality of their events, although the rule that prohibits teams from appearing in a given event more than once in four years still applies.

Back on the homefront, this definitely affects the Irish. ND is currently scheduled for the Preseason NIT next season and the Maui classic two years later. I would expect a Guardians visit to be tossed into one of the open slots now that ND can do so without penalty.

This one goes to Ele ... er, 28

Another recommendation by the Management Committee that will be voted on not only raises the number of games each season from 27 to 28 but also removes the requirement that the conference count their post-season as one of those games. In effect, this will allow schools to schedule two more games per season, although there may be a cap of 30 games instituted for schools that play in fixed-games tournaments (e.g. the Maui Classic, where everyone plays three games win or lose).

For Irish fans longing for a return to the schedule of old nemeses, this is welcome news. It's easier to squeeze the UCLAs and Michigan States of the world into the docket when you don't have to give up potential home dates.

You Can't Always Get There from Here

John Calipari decided to remain in Memphis rather than take on the open position at North Carolina State. Early reports cited compensation issues, but ESPN's Andy Katz contends the main issue was Calipari's lack of confidence that he could provide the number of wins against Duke and North Carolina the school's administrators and fans would demand.

Here we have an ACC program firmly committed to basketball excellence. They have a rabid fan following. Their facilities are five years old and gorgeous. They were willing to give Calipari a raise of almost half a million dollars from his already impressive salary at Memphis and give him plenty of money for assistant coaches. In other words, the school is doing everything it can to make itself attractive to top-notch coaches.

And yet Calipari turned them down for a reason over which they have no control.

A message, perhaps, to those who continue to believe Notre Dame can snap its fingers and get any basketball coach it wants, especially without doing some of the things NC State did (and ND can do if it chooses).
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Blogger Brian said...

Coach Cal's got a pretty good arrangement at Memphis. He's playing in a brand new NBA arena (FedEx Forum) and has a talented and young squad. He should have no trouble winning Conference USA every year, thus a nearly automatic bid to the NCAA Tourney. I think his family likes the city, and I think he has a daughter that he would like to see get through school.

Also, the U of M administration has consistently shown the willingness to pull down and bend over for his contract demands.

4/13/2006 08:16:00 AM  
Blogger El Kabong said...

Doesn't change the point I made. NCState has done everything they can do to make themselves attractive and they were still done in by something they can't control. Coaching searches are never slam dunks.

For the record, I didn't say NCState's facilities were better than Memphis', I said NCState's were new and of good quality. I don't think the gap there is very wide, but nowhere in the article did I denigrate Memphis' stuff.

Also for the record, I think the piss-poor quality of CUSA overall is more likely to be a long-term hinderance than benefit to Memphis. Some recruits won't be impressed by the "you can slack for half the year and still get in" promo. There's also the issue of the conference not helping in SOS calculations and whatnot, so when it comes to TV appearance decisions and seeding questions going forward, Memphis might get hurt.

For the trifecta, I'd wager that the NC triangle can hold its own with Memphis w/r/t being a "basketball town".

4/13/2006 10:14:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

El Kabong,

In my opinion, your analysis suffers in two important areas. First, it is static: what is "is" and must be. Your analysis leads to the conclusion that a coach in a specific situation can only be predicted to produce "x" wins. Yet, we can agree that certain coaches can "outperform" what would be forecast based on a projection of the quality of program variables such as "quality of stadium," "fan expectations," "compensation," and so on. Second, while it is not easy to project which coach could outperform the market, it is not impossible. It is the responsibility of the professionals to make this call. If you really mean to say that neither White nor Brey have what it takes, then say it, don't say it can't be done.

4/13/2006 09:49:00 PM  
Blogger El Kabong said...

Yes, there are coaches who can perform at a high level. But that trait is usually identified at the lower levels of coaching (e.g. the Karl Hobbs of the world). By the time the trait is evident, those coaches are in strong demand, and ND would be competing against other programs for their services. As such, they need to do everything they can to make the program look good in comparison to competitors. This applies as much to players as it does to coaches.

I would rather not depend on anyone projecting who can outperform the market, because if the projection is wrong, ND is stuck with an underperforming coach for at least three to four seasons, during which the cachet of the program continues to slide. I would prefer the university do everything it can now to make itself attractive to the candidates with the highest possible upside, even if those candidates are being sought this time next year. While it's not a guaranteed success, the chances of failure are minimized.

4/13/2006 10:02:00 PM  

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