Nice---Hey, anyone who gets to know me, always thinks I am a nice person. I also work hard, but let's face it, I am probably two bad blogs and two bad Talkin Ducks' shows away from getting fired at Comcast SportsNet. It is a fact of life these days, it comes with the sports business and everyone in sports, better understand.
When it comes to coaching on the D-1 basketball level, you must win, it is what you are judged on and it is what your boss is judged on. I recently had a successful athletic director who has a men's basketball team struggling this year tell me candidly, "Greg, I can find hundreds of nice people to coach our teams, I can also find plenty who care about graduating players, but when it comes right down to it, I have to judge coaches on winning, it is bottom line anymore in college athletics and nothing trumps it."
Winning is the bottom line, no matter how nice of a person you are these days. Times have changed, probably not for the better, but let's face it, you can be the nicest person in the world, but no matter what kind of work you are in, you have to get the job done, end of story. And it is that time of year, when college basketball coaches are being reviewed, scrutinized and often either rewarded or going to get let go soon, sadly.
And on the west coast, who might get let go, not because they are bad people, strictly based on performance?
Brad Huse, Montana State---Having a better than expected year, but I think it will not be enough for the Bobcats to keep him. In fairness, Bozeman might be a nice place to retire, but it has to be one of the toughest places to recruit in the country for college basketball.
Cameron Dollar, Seattle U---Struggling with a 1-8 record in the Western Athletic Conference, Dollar has not been able to get the job done for the Redhawks. This is a plum job, if Dollar is let go, there will be no shortage of strong applicants.
Ken Bone, Washington State---Bone is a decent basketball coach, but I keep hearing that Washington State AD Bill Moos wants to make a big splash with a basketball coach, much the same as he did with Mike Leach in football. And please, never tell me you can't win in Pullman, remember George Raveling, Marv Harshman, Dick and Tony Bennett.
Certainly there will be others on the hot seat as we get closer to March. I might also add, it does no good to pay attention to pre-league records. Coaches are strictly judged on league records. The gold standard for success use to be 20 wins, that is no longer the case, success now comes with a 23-24 win mark, especially with teams playing so many games as compared to 20 years past.
By the way, not this year, but some coaches out west who need to pick it up not only finishing out this year, but for sure next season, who might be in the danger zone and should be looking over their shoulder, are Eric Reveno, Tyler Geving, Johnny Dawkins and Craig Robinson, all having major disappointing seasons so far in 2012-13.
Attendance---Oregon fans, supporters and college basketball fans, if you do not sell out Matthew Knight Arena the rest of the year, shame on you, with the team you have in Eugene. It will be down right embarrassing and you will be a national laughing stock. And looking at attendance, please allow me to get a little personal here. My conference, the conference in which my alma mater plays, the Northwest Conference and the entire D-3 basketball needs to take a hard look at how basketball is scheduled. It really is a joke that so many teams in the Northwest Conference do not get to play that many games in front of their students, because of the way so many schools take winter break. Example: Lewis and Clark College, led by coach Dinari Foreman, as fine a gentlemen as you will ever meet in sports and an excellent coach, will see his team play only four out of 12 home games this season in front of their students. It is not fair to the players, coaches, fans and most important students. Part of the great experience of college athletics is being a student and watching your athletic teams play, it is a great release and break from the rigors of the classroom. NWC, move your schedule back, to start league games in the middle of January and D-3, change your championships so they allow teams to do so. And I mean, make these changes right now please.
Mac's Message---Portland State assistant coach Andy McClouskey answers a good question from a reader of Crawford's Court, with a good answer.
"Coach, your segment has really helped me understand basketball much better. How important is watching video/film to both a coaching staff and players, as well as what can you learn, that you do not know ?" Connie---Portland, Oregon
"Connie, thanks for your question and kind words. In the basketball world I think coaches are always trying to understand the game a little more and we know it is a hard game to master for both players and most certainly coaches.
The use of video is a very important tool for basketball coaches and players. There are lots of ways to use video, but two of the areas that video impacts is PLAYER DEVELOPMENT and scouting of future opponents.
Often players don't really understand understand what they are doing or NOT doing on the floor just by playing. By observing video of their performance they can see exactly what they are doing rather than think what they are DOING. They can see what assignments they are missing in terms of execution or wings not sprinting the lanes every time the ball changes hands.
I once worked for a coach at Stetson University, Murray Arnold, who was a firm believer in the use of video. He would often let players grade themselves off of video or make comments about teammates. Sadly Arnold passed away this past year. His comments went something like this, "Guys a coaches' observation of practice or a game INDICTS a player, video tape CONVICTS."
In scouting we can show players the tendencies of the future opponent--both as a team and personnel of the opponent. We all have so much access to video of the teams we play, we can see every play they have run during the season. Thanks for the question and see you at the Stott Center." Coach Mac.
"100 in 90" ----Moving along on my journey to see 100 game in 90 days. Last week was a huge week, nine games, seeing doubleheaders and a tripleheader on Saturday, making my total for the year 58 college games, start to finish. The highlight was BYU/U of Portland, not so much the one sided game, but just how fanatic the following of BYU basketball is, not only in Portland, but around the world. It was also a pleasure to speak with BYU head coach Dave Rose after the game, just to ask him how he is feeling these days. Win or lose, Rose is a complete gentlemen, who so far has won the battle against pancreatic cancer. Last Saturday was Coaches vs. cancer day around the country, shame on me for not suggesting to the U of Portland to have Rose address the crowd for a minute before the game. I am sure his words would have been, nothing beats your health, including winning on the sports court.
Craw's Nine---The nine best teams (in the present and moment) playing the best basketball of the six leagues that play D-1 out west.
9. New Mexico---Despite a terrible loss to San Diego St, in which they scored 34 points, the Lobos can't go from 1 to out of Craw's Nine. Not happening.
8. New Mexico State---Making waves in the WAC, have won seven game in a row.
7. Arizona---Disappointing loss at home to UCLA, but still a great team.
6. San Diego St----Steve Fisher, Steve Fisher, Steve Fisher, Steve Fisher
5. Gonzaga---Clearly the best team in the WCC this year, Final Four material.
4. Montana---10 wins in a row, including a big win last Saturday over arch-rival Weber St. Playing as good as anyone in the country.
3. Louisiana Tech---Yes, leading the WAC, 10 wins in a row and 18-3 on the year. WOW. Start watching them.
2. Arizona State---Do not sleep on the Sun Devils, unless a big slippage, will be in NCAA Tourney. Hats off Herb Sendek. Best turnaround in basketball.
1. Oregon---Have not lost since December 19th. Had two top NBA execs, who see teams all over the country, both tell me last week, Dana Altman so far is runaway winner for National Coach of Year.
Will Cherry---Shame on Portland, Oregon, if the Stott Center is not sold out this Thursday. One of the best players ever in the Big Sky, Will Cherry will be in town with his league leading Montana Grizzlies. I know one things for sure, if not fans, there will be plenty of NBA scouts in the stands to watch Will Cherry. He is a tremendous player on both ends of the floor and as I have boldly predicted in past Crawford's Court, barring injuries, he will be a better pro than super Portland Trail Blazer rookie, Damian Lillard, also out of the Big Sky.
Cherry is still flying under the radar as to his talent, but he will be a first round draft choice and is so much fun to watch. Get the kids together mom and dad, get down to Stott Center and see this future NBA super-star. You will also be able to see one of the most underrated coaches in all of basketball, not just college in Wayne Tinkle. The job he has done consistently done at Montana is nothing short of sensational and he will bring his Grizz into Stott Center, winners of 10 games in a row, leading the Big Sky by two games and winners of 19 straight conference games.
This is a can't miss game for any basketball fan, not to mention the Vikings will be angry coming into this game, as their season has gone south in a big hurry.
Scores---Once again, my attempt at humor, but pay attention, I win in this contest, big time, as even Terry Gierke, should note.
1/30 Oregon (90) at Stanford (60)--- My partner on Talkin Ducks, former Duck Richard Lucas, says Ducks steamroll Cardinal.
1/31 Arizona (64) at Washington (65)--- If I picked the favorite in every game that would be kind of boring. Nice upset for Huskies.
1/31 Montana (70) at Portland State (71) OT-- Biggest upset in the Big Sky in years, this is the Vikings' Super Bowl
2/2 Michigan (80) at Indiana (78) ---The number 1 and 3 teams in the country battle. Michigan is my pick to win the NCAA championship this year.