Mike Krzyzewski

Coach K on transfers: ‘There should be no exceptions … I think it’s a farce’


September marks the beginning of college basketball season this year, as teams are now allowed to being practice on the 27th of this month.

But it also happens to be just about as dead as the offseason gets for college hoops. The news coming out is limited, and all anyone cares about is football, fantasy and otherwise. I’m not immune, either; I spent Sunday mulling over what to do about the fact that I drafted Eddie Lacy in all of my leagues.

Anyway, it seems like every offseason, there is one point of contention that gets railed on incessantly. For college football, it was the idea of amateurism, its flaws, and the role that Johnny Football can play in changing it.

On the basketball side of things, the topic of transfers has been a recurring theme that we all seem to be sick of arguing about but that we just can’t get enough of. It doesn’t help matters that on a seemingly weekly basis, there’s a ruling that the NCAA comes out with that just leaves us scratching our heads. Whether it’s Kerwin Okoro or Rakeem Buckles, there is always a talking point or a cause for conversation. And blog posts.

Today? It’s Mike Krzyzewski, as he had an interesting take on transfers. Via Dana O’Neil:

“There should be no exceptions,” Krzyzewski told ESPN.com. “Everybody should have to sit out, that includes a fifth-year player, just to make it equal. I think it’s a farce, really.”

The NCAA has come under scrutiny after a number of recent transfer decisions and the reason, Krzyzewski believes, is a lack of consistency.

Though he’d prefer to see the entire process eliminated, he said, at worst, the NCAA should take an all-or-nothing approach.

“Giving certain kids the right to play and others not the right to play, it should be done the same,” he said. “If they want to let everybody play right away, then let everybody play right away. Everybody should be treated the same. I don’t understand why there are exceptions to this rule.”

The idea that there should be no exceptions to the transfer rule is just a silly idea. You need waivers, because there is no way that one rule book can adequately and accurately govern all of the athletes that play an NCAA sport. It’s just not possible. There are going to be people that slip through the cracks, which is what the waiver system is designed for.

I also believe that Coach K’s second point is correct. I’m fundamentally against the NCAA restricting a player’s movement. When it comes down to it, most players are not going to want to leave their school, their friends, their team, the girl they’ve been dating, the sweat equity they’ve built up. But if the NCAA and the conferences are going to continue to rake in billions of tax-free dollars from these “student”-athletes, the least they can do is treat them like actual students.

But I don’t see that happening, which is why I think the answer is transparency, as John Infante of the ByLaw Blog writes here. The general consensus isn’t that the transfer process is broken, it’s that the NCAA is cold and heartless and inconsistent, because we have no idea what goes into each decision that is made.

So open up the books. Tell us why Rakeem Buckles got his waiver denied and while Malik Smith is playing at Minnesota this season.

If there’s a good reason, it goes a long way towards ending the complaints.


No. 1 Kentucky survives without Tyler Ulis in lineup

Tyler Ulis
AP Photo/Chuck Burton
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Less than a week after giving No. 2 Maryland all they could handle, Illinois State went into Lexington and gave No. 1 Kentucky fits.

The Redbirds never really threatened UK in the second half, but they went into the break tied and were within single digits down the stretch, eventually losing 75-63.

Kentucky was flustered. They turned the ball over 15 times compared to just eight assists, they shot 2-for-12 from three and just 29-for-46 (63 percent) from the charity stripe. They simply did not handle Illinois State’s pressure all that well.

And there was a reason for that.

Tyler Ulis didn’t play.

Sometimes it’s difficult to appreciate just what a player brings to a team until that player is not in the lineup, and that was precisely the case with Ulis on Monday night. It was crystal clear what he provides Kentucky. Beyond leadership and the ability to break a press without throwing the ball to the other team, he’s a calming presence. He doesn’t get rattled when a defender is harassing him and he doesn’t get overwhelmed by a situation like a mid-major threatening the No. 1 team in the country in their own gym.

He’s everything you look for in a pure point guard, and for as good as Jamal Murray and Isaiah Briscoe have looked at times this season, it should be crystal clear who the most important player on this Kentucky team is.

LSU loses to Charleston, eliminates at-large bid margin for error

Ben Simmons
AP Photo/Kathy Willens
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Ben Simmons scored 15 points and grabbed 18 rebounds, the second time in his six-game career that the LSU freshman has collected that many caroms, but that wasn’t enough for the Tigers to avoid dropping a game on the road to the College of Charleston, 70-58. It was the third straight loss for Simmons’ crew, as they fell to Marquette and N.C. State at the Legends Classic last week.

But here’s the thing: LSU didn’t just lose.

The game really wasn’t close.

LSU was down by as many as 23 points. It was 39-17 at the half, and that was after Charleston had a shot at the buzzer called off upon review. They made a bit of a run in the second half but never got closer than seven. When LSU would cut into the lead, the Cougars would respond with a run of their own, killing LSU’s spirit while keeping them at arm’s length.

[RELATED: Ben Simmons’ one college year a waste?]

Now, there are quite a few things here to discuss. For starters, LSU’s effort was, at best, apathetic, and, at worst, regular old pathetic. The team has a serious lack of leadership that was plainly evident on Monday night; would Fred VanVleet let his team fold against a program picked to finish at the bottom of the SoCon? Would Tyler Ulis? For that matter, would Tom Izzo or Mike Krzyzewski or John Calipari?

Perhaps more importantly, does any of that change when Keith Hornsby and Craig Victor get back?

Simmons did show off his potential — 18 boards, four assists, he even made his first three of the year — but he also showed precisely why there are scouts that are trying to curtail the LeBron James comparisons. Simmons was 4-for-15 from the floor with seven turnovers against a mediocre mid-major team. There are so many things that Simmons does well, but scoring efficiently — particularly in half court setting — and shooting the ball consistently are not on that list.

But here’s the biggest issue: LSU may have put themselves in a situation where they aren’t a tournament team. As of today, they’re 3-3 on the season with losses to a pair of teams that, at best, seem destined to be in the bubble conversation on Selection Sunday in addition to this loss to Charleston. The rest of their non-conference schedule is ugly. The only game worth noting is at home against No. 6 Oklahoma at the end of January.

The NCAA factors in non-conference schedule strength when determining at-large teams. You need to at least try, and LSU didn’t try; they have one of the worst non-conference schedules in the country.

The great thing about being in the SEC — as opposed to, say, the Missouri Valley — is that the Tigers will have plenty of chances to earn marquee wins. Six, by my court: Kentucky twice, Texas A&M twice, Vanderbilt on the road and Oklahoma at home. They probably need to win at least two or three of those games to have a real chance, and that’s assuming they can avoid anymore horrid losses in the process.

The season isn’t over six games in, not by any stretch of the imagination.

But LSU has done a hell of a job eliminating their margin for error.