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Department of Inappropriate Analogies

From the Chicago Sun-Times's Greg Couch, in defense of Matt Doherty:

Former DePaul coach Pat Kennedy, now at Montana, is in line to become head of the National Association of Basketball Coaches, which met Thursday in New Orleans before the Final Four.

''This one incident has really hit a nerve,'' he said. ''A guy or a group that's not playing a lot is going to have a lot to bitch about. Coaches have to yell at players, but if our administration is not on the same page we are, then we've got a lot of problems.

''Bobby Knight used to put a kid in the defensive stance and tell him to slide sideline to sideline. Let's say it took 10.5 seconds. Then, he would have the kid get in the same stance, and you'd think he would do it slower now because he's tired, right? Well, Bobby would stand right behind him and yell in the kid's ear, and he would take off like a bat out of hell.''

Here's some advice, Pat: Don't use Knight to further your point. Apparently, though, coaches now will be afraid to yell.

Can't say that having Kennedy in your corner is a ringing endorsement, either.

I think Greg Couch is putting too much on the players, though. If a Roy Williams or Larry Brown comes in -- a coach with clout, a better hire than Baddour deserves -- then there's no question that that coach, and not the players, will be in charge.

Players are always going to want more say-so. Any true competitor, whether in athletics or in the workplace, wants more autonomy and influence. It's a coach's -- and further up, an AD or chancellor's -- responsibility to draw the line.

I don't think the problem is with the players. The problem is with how the situation was managed by a certain athletic director.


I agree. So does Michael Jordan. So I think that about covers the waterfront, don't you? :-)

See my blog of April 3:


My yearly $25 contribution won't be missed, but if ALL of us who are unhappy with Baddour will tell the UNC fundraisers that they're not getting any $ as long as he's still the AD, maybe the university would sit up and take notice...


Perhaps I'm the one dessenting opinion on this one. I agree that it's okay for some coaches to "in the players face". For them to be a little loud and somewhat colorful. And it's okay for some programs to endorse that style, but not at my alma mater. One of the things I liked most about Dean Smith was that he was very in control and laid back. Guthridge was similiar, getting the players attention and respect by speaking softly. And Coach K keeps his players' respect by giving respect. The only time he's mad is when it's at a ref or another team.

Sure, we can't have Smith back and it's unreasonable to expect any coach to emulate him or his style. But for my money, I'd rather have subdued respect than yelling and screaming. And I really don't think of it as the "Dean Smith" way, but rather the "Carolina Way".

Frank Maguire, the coach at UNC before Smith, was as in-your-face as any current coach. Smith may have had a laid-back persona on the court in the years we were paying attention, but he could be incredibly sarcastic and cutting in practice and as a younger man was undoubtedly more energetic in his style, before he achieved the level of success he enjoyed in the 80s and 90s. Though I can't immediately find the source online, Smith is reported to have put his fist through a chalkboard himself in frustration.

Duke's coach is quite free with his profanity and his anger at his players, as described by Barry Jacobs, who was allowed full access to practices in preparing his book "Three Paths to Glory". Don't forget, Krzyzewski learned his trade from Bobby Knight, who he played for at West Point. He also took the abuse to students who weren't his players, screaming at the school newspaper reporters:

"With doors closed and his team and assistant coaches looking on, Krzyzewski proceeded to berate the writers in much the same manner he would address players who'd displeased him. That the setting, and the profanity, might constitute an act of intimidation never occurred to Krzyzewski." (p. 58)

You don't hear sbout Krzyzewski's ugly and hardass style of coaching as much because, shit, he's winning (the bastard).

Smith was undoubtedly a great coach. Guthridge was a good coach but a poor recruiter, and there was no way he could tell any kid he was trying to sign that he'd be there for the kid's full career and be believed.

Coach Doherty came in wanting to put his own stamp on the program, and had the right to do so. I think his youth and energy were just what UNC needs. A student population who connects with him. A fan base revitalized. A Dean Dome actually converted to a huge home-court advantage for three NIT games. UNC made a huge mistake in not giving Coach Doherty more time to perfect his style the way a previous administration did for Smith.

What should have been the Carolina way was patience, confidence and faith. Instead it spit out one of its own because it couldn't weather a bit of indigestion.