I’m going to coach a game against you. Neither of us gets to play. We are only coaching.
We can call plays, motivate our players in the locker room, run practices, put together scouting reports, watch tape, and even help our players in their everyday lives (if one of us chooses to be the father figure-type of coach). Then, let’s send our players on the court: my players against your players, two 20-minute halves.
I’ll take the guy who is 18th in my conference in scoring as my go-to scorer. I’ll fill out the rest of my roster with a defensively dominant, but offensively raw center, a freshman power forward who has nothing figured out, a point guard that is a loose canon and a shooting guard that is sometimes afraid to shoot. I’ll take two great bench guys to fill out my roster.
You can have the National Player of the Year who is also the best collegiate defender since Tim Duncan, two more lottery picks, a point guard that could be a first round pick, and a shooting guard that hits almost 50% of his threes. I’ll also give you two quality bench guys, who aren’t quite as polished as mine.
Your roster is significantly better than mine. I don’t think there’s much debating that. Now, throw us into a 30-plus game season. The year is almost done and we both have one loss. Who is doing the better coaching job? Probably me.
I just blind résumé-ed Jim Boeheim and John Calipari. (I also just turned “blind résumé into a verb, but I guess that’s what March brings out in people.) Calipari is a great coach and has done a wondrous job with a group of extraordinarily talented, yet, inexperienced players. But my question is, “How in Anthony’s Davis’ green Earth is Cal more deserving than Boeheim?”
Ignore the rosters for a second. Ignore the talent level. Forget the 300 words I just wrote. Now, think about what was going on in Syracuse in November. Bernie Fine had been suspended and was later fired after being accused of child molestation. Every analyst, writer, and media mind was wondering what kind of effect such a scandal could have on the Orange basketball team. Boeheim said it would have no effect on results. He was right.
He spoke to his team about Fine only once in a team setting. The meeting was a couple days after the story had broken. Then, that was it. There was no more Fine talk. There was no more scandal talk. The Boehim strategy is all about coaching basketball, not necessarily coaching people. For a situation like this, his personality was perfect. He completely controlled it. He allowed his players to remain as comfortable as they possibly could.
You can look at the rosters and it’s clear: If Kentucky and Syracuse were to scrimmage with no practice, and no coach, Kentucky would win that game. The Wildcats are simply more talented than any other team in the country. Cal has been the best in the SEC, but Boeheim has been the best in the country.
Kentucky and Syracuse remain at Nos. 1 and 2 in this week’s HoopSpeakU Top 25. Here is the rest of the best…
1. Kentucky, 30-1 (16-0), Last Week: 1 – The scariest part of this team is that Anthony Davis is actually getting better. How many 7-footers can get the ball on the perimeter and take it to the hoop with one dribble and then only a few possessions later, sink a shot from the same spot?
2. Syracuse, 30-1 (17-1), Last Week: 2 – The Orange won’t lose before the Final Four unless they have an inexplicably terrible shooting night. That defense is just too good.
3. Kansas, 26-5 (16-2), Last Week: 3 – No surprise: Thomas Robinson took home AP Big 12 Player of the Year after averaging 18 points per game and 11.9 rebounds per game in the regular season.
4. North Carolina, 27-4 (14-2), Last Week: 6 – The Tar Heels’ biggest weakness is that they don’t force turnovers. North Carolina is only turning opponents over on 18.3% of defensive possessions, 276th in the country.
5. Missouri, 27-4 (14-4), Last Week: 8 – The Tigers have had the most efficient offense in the country all season. Missouri is first in the nation in adjusted efficiency, first in two-point field goal percentage, third in effective field goal percentage, and third in turnover percentage.
6. Duke, 26-5 (13-3), Last Week: 4 – North Carolina and Duke seem to have the same biggest weakness on defense. The Blue Devils’ turnover percentage sits at 18.9%, 247th in the country.
7. Ohio State, 25-6 (13-5), Last Week: 10 – Even after their recent struggles, the Buckeyes still lead the nation in defensive adjusted efficiency.
8. Michigan State, 24-7 (13-5), Last Week: 5 – Draymond Green has to be an All-American. He is averaging a double-double and is the clear on and off the court leader of a team that tied for first place in the best conference in the country.
9. Marquette, 25-6 (14-4), Last Week: 7 – Is Darius Johnson-Odom Big East Player of the Year? The senior is averaging 18.3 points per game and is shooting 40.1% from long range on 172 attempts.
10. Michigan, 23-8 (13-5), Last Week: 12 – As great as Aaron Craft is – especially defensively – Trey Burke might be the best point guard in the Big Ten.
11. Wisconsin, 23-8 (12-6), Last Week: 13 – Jordan Taylor is starting to turn it on. The senior is averaging 19 points per game over his last three contests.
12. Baylor, 25-6 (12-6), Last Week: 9 – Pierre Jackson was a Second Team All Big 12 selection, but the point guard is leading a team that simply turns the ball over too much as the Bears are giving the ball back on 21% of their possessions.
13. Georgetown, 22-7 (12-6), Last Week: 14 – Running this offense through Jason Clark is an interesting change by JT3. With his length, Clark can cause some serious matchup issues for smaller guards.
14. Murray State, 30-1 (15-1), Last Week: 15 – Everyone is so worried about Syracuse’s defensive rebounding, but the Racers aren’t excelling much more in that category. Murray State is only coming up with the ball on 64.9% of defensive rebounding opportunities, 288th in the nation.
15. Florida State, 21-9 (12-4), Last Week: 17 – The Seminoles have been inconsistent this season, but their experience and height will help them come tourney time. FSU is the fourth tallest and 17th most experienced team in the country.
16. Indiana, 24-7 (11-7), Last Week: 20 – The Hoosiers are a scary team when they are playing in Bloomington. The problem is that they won’t be playing anymore games at home this season.
17. Wichita State, 27-5 (16-2), Last Week: 11 – Is that one-point loss to Illinois State a sign of weakness or an aberration? The Shockers will now have plenty of rest heading into the NCAA Tournament.
18. Notre Dame, 21-10 (13-5), Last Week: 18 – Jack Cooley has turned into a lower-middle class man’s Luke Harangody. Cooley is dominating around the basket, shooting 62.1% from the field.
19. Iowa State, 22-9 (12-6), Last Week: 24 – Everyone knows Fred Hoiberg could shoot the three. Now his team is centered around shooting threes and defending them. The Cyclones are hitting 38.2% of their long-range shots and are holding their opponents to 30% shooting from beyond the arc.
20. San Diego State, 24-6 (10-4), Last Week: 23 – The Aztecs have bounced back nicely from their mid-February three-game losing streak. San Diego State has now won four straight and finished the regular season tied for first in the Mountain West.
21. Florida, 22-9 (10-6), Last Week: 16 – What is going on in Gainesville? The Gators dropped their final three games of the conference season – all of them by double digits.
22. UNLV, 25-7 (9-5), Last Week: 22 – Wyoming has given UNLV fits all season. The Cowboys and Rebs split their season series so naturally, Las Vegas has to play the Cowboys one more time in its first game of the Mountain West Conference Tournament.
23. Louisville, 22-9 (10-8), Last Week: 21 – Peyton Siva is quickly becoming part of the Anti-Wine All-Stars – captained by Larry Drew III. The junior has gotten worse with age and is a big reason for why the Cardinals have turned underperforming into a habit.
24. Virginia, 22-8 (9-7), Last Week: 19 – Mike Scott is still dominating ACC games. The Cavalier forward had 28 points on only 15 shots in Virginia’s three-point loss to Florida State.
25. Drexel, 27-5 (16-2), Last Week: 25 – Regardless of who wins the CAA – Drexel or VCU – both teams that reached the finals deserve to make the NCAA Tournament.
Added – None
Dropped – None
Big East – 5
Big Ten – 5
ACC – 4
Big 12 – 4
MWC – 2
SEC – 2
CAA – 1
MVC – 1
OVC – 1
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