Give that Dean Smith book one more shot

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As news about Dean Smith’s memory issues emerged last week, there was essentially one response from readers and writers: sadness.

Few coaches are more respected than the North Carolina icon, perhaps because he was as concerned about how his players developed as people as much as their basketball development. That’s the kind of person we can’t read about enough.

That’s why it’s a bit sad to read that John Feinstein, perhaps the best college basketball book writer alive, isn’t going to complete a planned book on Smith.

From Feinstein’s blog:

The sessions I had with him in August were difficult–more difficult, to be honest, than I anticipated. … Dean, through his long time assistant Linda Woods, had provided me with phone numbers for all his family members. It was when I started contacting them that I realized I had a problem. They were, understandably, concerned with how the time involved would affect Dean’s health.

I had a long talk with Dean’s son Scott, who at one point offered to sit in on the sessions. That would do two things: it would allow him to make sure his dad was doing okay and not getting too fatigued and it might help him jog his dad’s memory on certain things. I thought it was a great idea. One thing was clear in my dealings with Scott and with Linnea, Dean’s wife: they understood why those who cared about Dean wanted to see the book done and, I think they knew that Dean trusted me to do the book the right way. But I think their concerns about his health out-weighed all of that.

Which I completely understand. After a number of conversations with them and with Rick Brewer and Roy Williams and Bill Guthridge I came to the conclusion that I would be pushing an envelope, which, since I’m not a doctor, I really didn’t completely understand if I kept trying to move forward. I thought briefly about suggesting that I do the project without interviewing Dean any further. Given all the past interviews I had done with him, if I had the cooperation of everyone else involved, I could still write the book. But that didn’t feel right: the agreement Dean and I had was to work together on the book. It was what I had always wanted to do. Going forward with him only being peripherally involved felt wrong.

So, regretfully, I decided not to go forward.

Not pushing Smith to cooperate on long interviews was the smart, classy move by Feinstein. But not completing the book? Surely he can revisit that decision at some point. I can’t think of any other writers more suited to the task of writing the definitive Dean Smith book.

Sure, Feinstein won’t have Smith available as a primary source, but that shouldn’t stop a guy who thrives on research and wide-ranging interviews with Smith’s family and friends. ‘Cause I know I’m not the only one who wants to read that book.

Mike Miller’s also on Twitter, usually talkin’ hoops. Click here for more.

NEW PODCAST: Recapping Feast Week

Kris Dunn
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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We talk about a lot of stuff of the podcast today, mainly because a lot of stuff happened since we last spoke with you all.

For starters, we need to discuss the ‘realness’ of Syracuse and Xavier. Are they both truly top 15 teams, or do they just have top 15 resumes? We also dive into Chris Mack’s epic troll-job of Dayton at the Advocare Invitational final.

Other topics we touched on: Whether or not Scott is ever going to apologize to Wayne Selden, Wichita State’s tournament hopes, Texas A&M and whether we’d take Ben Simmons, Kris Dunn or Denzel Valentine today.

As always, you can subscribe to the podcast in iTunes right here. It’s the quickest way to get access on your cell phone or tablet.


AP Poll: Syracuse, Xavier big winners in college basketball rankings

(Brad Horrigan/The Courant via AP)
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The new college basketball AP Poll is out, and it shouldn’t be much of a surprise to you that Syracuse and Xavier are the big winners.

The Orange steamrolled through a good Battle 4 Atlantis field, while Xavier capped a dominating performance in the Advocare Invitational with a 29-point win over Dayton. It should be no surprise that they are where they are.

[MORE RANKINGS: top 25 | Coaches Poll]

It is a bit surprising, however, that both Texas A&M and Providence made it into the polls with a loss this week. They both deserve to be there, I just wasn’t sure they were both going to be.

Anyway, here is the full poll:

1. Kentucky (59 first place votes)
2. Maryland (4)
3. Michigan State (2)
4. Kansas
5. Iowa State
6. Oklahoma
7. Duke
8. Villanova
9. North Carolina
10. Virginia
11. Purdue
12. Xavier
13. Gonzaga
14. Syracuse
15. Oregon
16. Vanderbilt
17. Cincinnati
18. Texas A&M
19. Arizona
20. West Virginia
21. Miami
22. SMU
23. Providence
24. Louisville
25. Baylor

NEW THIS WEEK: Syracuse, West Virginia, SMU, Providence, Louisville

DROPPED OUT: Indiana, Cal, UConn, LSU, Wichita State