Ruffle My Feathers, a weekly sports blog by Justin Lewis
3 Kings and a Matta
Well the Final Four is all set and there is no telling who will win. As usual there were crazy things happening throughout the tournament with #2 seeds losing to #15 seeds and unknown players taking advantage of their opportunity to shine on the big stage, but the most unusual thing has been the “coincidence” of certain coaching/team match-ups. Its just well, Madness!
As I said there were crazy match-ups that were eerily “coincidental”. You had Louisville vs. Florida which featured former player/Protégé Billy Donovan going up against his former coach and mentor Rick Pitino; Kansas vs. North Carolina where Roy Williams brought his NEW team North Carolina to face off against his old team the Kansas Jayhawks. Then we have Louisville vs.Kentucky (In the Final Four). This pits two of the most sarcastic and animated coaches (Pitino and Calipari) against one another for a chance to go to the National Championship game. As usual Pitino is coaching a team which swarms you with defense, hustle and determination; and Calipari the ultimate (1-year) recruiter brings his team full of former High School All-Americans to the Final Four. Lastly, we had Syracuse vs. The Referee’s & Ohio State (Anyone who knows me and reads my blogs knows I cannot stand referees, especially referees who try to have an impact on the game. They are crowd control, THAT’S IT!) I won’t elaborate because there aren’t enough words to express how one-sided that game was being called. I will say this though, IT WAS RIDICULOUS!
Anyway, on to the teams within the Final Four. All of them have a chance at capturing that trophy so the games will be fantastic. I will thoroughly enjoy watching this Final Four in particular because ALL of the teams play great defense. Everyone is clamming over the match-up between Kentucky and Louisville but I feel more compelled to watch Ohio State vs. Kansas. I say that because Bill Self (current head coach of the Kansas Jayhawks) has not only erased or is close to erasing the memory of Roy Williams from the hearts/minds of the Jayhawk fans he is also setting his sights on Mr. Williams name within the University of Kansas record books. Then we have Thad Matta (Head Coach of Ohio State) who has been a great coach for some time now, but he is just now getting the respect he deserves from the media and that’s just crazy. I digress. The NCAA tournament is about match-ups and we have a good share of match-ups within this game that will be interesting such as Jared Sullinger (Ohio State) going up against fellow All-American Thomas Robinson (Kansas). Not a lot of people know who Thomas Robinson is but they may want to get familiar. He is quite a player and Sullinger may have the weight/strength advantage but Robinson is quicker and more agile and that tends to bother Sullinger. As I said that is a very good match-up but I believe the key match-up will be between the point guards of both teams. Aaron Craft (Ohio State) vs. Tyshawn Taylor (Kansas). Kraft is a great defender (and a sneaky good offensive player) and Tyshawn is the catalyst for Kansas’ offense (and a key to the various defenses that Bill Self implements into his game plans to keep other teams off balance e.g. The Triangle and 2 he used to shut down Purdue AND North Carolina) so it should be a great game. I’m going to say the score will be 71 – 66 in favor of the Jayhawks.
Lastly, in our other Final Four match-up we have Rick Pitino (Louisville Cardinals) vs. John Calipari (Kentucky Wildcats) aka The Legend vs. The Hype. I am just callin it like it is. Hopefully Calipari proves me wrong because his team is awesome! Mr. Calipari keeps recruiting these kids and it doesn’t seem like he is telling them to get an education (or at least stay for 2 years), it seems that he and the players are renting each other out like Tuxedos. I’ve never been a fan of Calipari because I don’t think he coaches fundamentals (Shooting (e.g. mid-range jump shots and free throws), crisp passing, and fundamental offenses that will help players transition well should they play in the NBA or overseas) which are essential within the NBA; and I also don’t care for his stance on academics. A while back Bobby Knight blamed him for creating the “1 and Done” system e.g. A player comes to a school and plays for one year just to satisfy the NBA’s requirements. I don’t think Bobby Knight should point fingers BUT he did open our eyes a bit. Calipari wrote an essay describing his “Players-First” program. The program is separated into three parts that describe Calipari’s actions with individual players from recruiting to after the season.
o 1. During the recruiting process, we don’t make outlandish promises about playing time, starting positions, minutes, shots, points or anything to these young men that we can’t keep. At Kentucky, you have to work for everything and compete every day at the highest level.
2. The second part is that once the season begins, we are teaching players to be the teammate they want to play with. Our whole focus is on team play. I want individuals to play well but I’m getting them to understand nothing of significance will be accomplished by themselves.
3. Lastly when the season is over, when our TEAM is done playing, my job is to help them make the best decisions, with the best information I can give them, for them and their families. I’m not trying to convince them to come back if that’s not in their best interest. Likewise, I’m never trying to shove anybody out the door.
Within that passage I saw no mention of academics. It just sounded like a speech from a person who is skilled at recruiting top talent, helping them achieve the goal of their school (championships) and themselves (notoriety and potential millions within the NBA). However we aren’t in the locker room or the homes of the players and coaches involved so we don’t know exactly what’s going on. When predicting the outcome/score of this game I had to get past my admiration of Rick Pitino because I believe he should ALREADY be in the Hall of Fame being as though wherever he goes he wins and his players embody who he is as a coach. With that being said what’s right and what will happen are two different things. I believe the score of the Kentucky game will be 81-67 infavor of Kentucky because I don’t believe Louisville can score enough points to beat Kentucky.
Enjoy the games everyone.