John Calipari is not the best basketball coach in the collegiate ranks. I think that he’d even be willing to admit as much.
He is, however, the best coach when it comes to running a college program. He knows how to recruit, he knows how to get players to buy into his program, he knows how to get a fan base motivated and he is one of the best when it comes to dealing with media. The marriage of Coach Cal, Big Blue Nation and Kentucky basketball is perfect.
Perhaps what Cal does better than anything else is create spin. If there’s something that he wants to say, a message that he wants to get across, he’s going to make that point regardless of what question he’s asked or what topic he’s discussing. He’s a master at it, and his latest post over at CoachCal.com is the perfect example.
In that post, Cal creates a list of 20 questions that every recruit should be asking of a potential college coach, calling their choice on where to go to college “a business decision, not an emotional one”. And it should come as no surprise to you that Kentucky comes up looking quite favorable when compared to any other program.
Now to be fair, there’s a reason for that. Kentucky has sent 19 players (if you include Enes Kanter) to the NBA in Cal’s five seasons while winning one national title, making another national title game and a third Final Four. When one of college basketball’s best programs is teamed up with college basketball’s best CEO, you are going to get results.
But if you think that these 20 questions were anything other than a promotional post for Kentucky, I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you. The title might as well be “20 Questions That Prove You Should Go To Kentucky”.
Anyway, here are the 20 questions:
1. Does your program offer multi-year (four-year) scholarships?
2. How many players have graduated from your program over the last four to five years?
3. How many players have graduated from your school and gone on to the NBA?
4. How many players have come back to finish school after they have left to pursue other dreams? Who pays for it?
5. How many of your players were insured through the disability program last season? If none were, why not?
6. What is your team grade-point average?
7. Where does your Academic Progress Rate retention rank among other schools?
8. What type of media training do you offer?
9. What kind of social media training program do you have in place? What are your social media policies?
10. How many double-figure scorers have you averaged in the last four to five years? If you only have one or two a year, what does that mean for me?
11. Have you ever coached anyone like me? If so, who?
12. How many McDonald’s All-Americans have you coached? How many of them went on to the NBA?
13. How have your teams fared with three or four McDonald’s All-Americans on the same team?
14. How many freshmen have you started within the last four to five years?
15. How many draft picks have you had over the last five years? How many drafted were not McDonald’s All-Americans? How many of the total were first-rounders and were any of them No. 1 draft picks during that time?
16. How many of those players have gone on to make the NBA All-Rookie team?
17. How many games will my family be able to watch on national television?
18. How many of your home games are sold out? How many of your road games are sold out?
19. How have you done in postseason play? Any Final Fours?
Hurley has led the Rams to the NCAA tournament the last two years and signed a seven-year contract with Rhode Island worth approximately $1 million per year last off-season. UConn was paying Kevin Ollie, who led the team to the 2014 NCAA title before being fired after this season, an average of $3 million per season while Kevin Stallings reportedly was due a buyout of nearly $10 million when he was fired by Pitt this season.
What Hurley will have to weigh beyond the financial circumstances will be his ability to win at either UConn or Pitt, should he decide to move on from Rhode Island.
Ollie – well, really Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright – showed you can win a national title out of the AAC at UConn. The league adding Wichita State only strengthens that point. Pitt, meanwhile, may be a tougher job now than it was when Jamie Dixon had it rolling since their move from the Big East to the ACC.
CBT Podcast: Recapping the first weekend of the 2018 NCAA Tournament
Eamonn Brennan of The Athletic joined Rob Dauster for an epic, two-hour podcast on the first weekend of the tournament. It was so good that we had to split the podcast into two parts. On this show, the two go through everything that happened in the South and West Regions, from Sister Jean to UMBC to Nevada’s comebacks to Kentucky’s chances at a Final Four.
On this show, the two go through everything that happened in the East and Midwest Regions, from Villanova and Duke steamrolling to Michigan State collapsing to Syracuse and Clemson and Texas Tech and Purdue. It’s all in there.
2018 NCAA Tournament: Eight viral heroes from first weekend of March Madness
6. TY JEROME DOESN’T HAVE TIME FOR YOUR DUMB QUESTIONS
Having to answer questions from a bunch of reporters after suffering the most humiliating moment of your life is not an easy thing to do. Having to answer ridiculous and stupid questions could be intolerable, which is why I loved Ty Jerome’s response to a stupid question he was asked:
The worst-kept secret in college basketball no longer appears to be a secret: Penny Hardaway is going to be the next coaching at the University of Memphis.
ESPN is reporting that a deal has been agreed upon. The Memphis Commercial-Appeal is reporting that Penny was waiting for his season to end with East High School before he made anything official. NBC Sports can confirm that an announcement is expected to be made early this week, likely as soon as Tuesday, to introduce the former Memphis and NBA star as Tubby Smith’s replacement.
The truth, however, is that we all knew this was what would be happening the second that Memphis formally fired Tubby Smith. Hell, we knew it a month before that decision was made final. This was always how it was going to play out.
What’s interesting to me is now the discussion of whether or not Penny will be able to handle being a Division I head coach, because it’s been hit or miss with basketball programs hiring legends of their past. Chris Mullin and St. John’s hasn’t exactly gone to plan but Fred Hoiberg was quite successful at Iowa State. Kevin Ollie won a title with UConn then fell off a cliff. Patrick Ewing’s start wasn’t great, but he was better than expected.
Hardaway isn’t a guy who woke up one morning and decided he’d like to be a Division I head coach. He’s not a former player who got bored with retirement and decided he’d like to do something other than play golf.
Hardaway started coaching at middle school. Middle school! Because an old friend needed some help.
Then he built one of the best AAU programs in the country. Then he spent years coaching a high school team.
Does that sound like someone who doesn’t want to roll up his sleeves and do the work? Does that sound like someone who is just in it for the glory and the glitz?
The truth is, if it weren’t for Hardaway’s iconic stature, he might be characterized as a grinder, as a guy who worked his way up from the lowest levels of basketball on the strength of his relationship with the kids.
I think that this is going to work out for both Penny and Memphis, especially if Penny hires a staff that can help him with the intricacies of running a college basketball program.