The college basketball coaching-merry-go-round has begun. Bruce Pearl has already moved from Wisconsin-Milwaukee to Tennessee. That is certainly a
step up for him in terms of an institution with a national reputation in athletic endeavors but men's basketball hasn't been Tennessee's long suit for
a very long time.
Fossils like me remember when Ernie Grunfeld and Bernard King were at Tennessee and they were lighting up the SEC; that was about 30 years ago. Of
course, we had the obligatory babble from the university president saying that he was positive that Pearl would take the team to the next level. That
won't be hard; the team finished under .500 last year so a 15-15 record next season would be "the next level".
John Beilein's name ought to be "out there" after West Virginia's showing in the NCAA tournament. Many folks think that he just burst onto the
coaching scene this year but he didn't; he was very successful at the University of Richmond in the past. But I have a dark-horse name for you to
think about when coaching vacancies are discussed and it isn't a name that is likely to get much play. Fran Dunphy.
Dunphy is the coach at Penn and he's been there 16 years. He took over a team and a program that had fallen into disrepair and put it on a course to
win nine Ivy League championships in those 16 years. He's averaged 18 wins a year at Penn and he does not schedule a bunch of Division 3 schools to
fill up his dates in December/January. This year's out of conference opponents included Wisconsin, Bucknell, Villanova, St. Joe's and Temple - all of
whom went to post-season tournaments - in addition to Providence. Penn has not advanced in the NCAA tournament because they are physically outmanned -
usually not by any small measure either - when they get to the tournament and have to play a team seeded somewhere between 3 and 5. But if Dunphy had
the physical talent, I suspect he'd advance in the tournament because it's pretty clear to me that this guy can coach basketball. Oh, and in case a
school also wants to hire a coach who might be a credit to the university academically, Dunphy is a lecturer in the Wharton School of Business in
their Executive Education program and has completed all of the course work necessary for a PhD.
This is also the time of year when we will hear about players declaring for the NBA draft and skipping out on the rest of their college careers.
Andrew Bogut has already said he is done at Utah. That's not such a bad thing; he won't be embarrassed in the NBA. However, Charlie Villanueva says
he's leaving UConn. After his last game where he loafed his way through 40 minutes of basketball and looked several times as if someone had forgotten
to leave a wake-up call for him resulted in a loss to 10th seeded NC State, I would think he'd consider exiting on a higher note. That game was not
much of a resume builder. Then again, somnambulating through an NBA game is something that happens all the time so maybe he was demonstrating his
advanced level of achievement in that dimension of his game for the scouts...
Speaking of the NBA, the Lakers and the Sixers played last weekend. Glancing at the box score, I was surprised to see that the Sixers had won. The
number of foul shots made was even; the rebounding was even; the fouls called were even; yet the Sixers shot the ball 18 more times than the Lakers
giving them the opportunity to make five extra field goals and win the game. Those extra shots came thanks to 27 turnovers by the Lakers. That's more
than one every two minutes, folks.
When the Pistons hosted the Pacers last week in Detroit, the game was delayed because a series of bomb threats were called in to the local
authorities. Fortunately, there were no bombs and the events turned out to be the idle musings of impotent fools. Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times
had an idea what might happen when the Portland Trail Blazers visit Detroit:
"Q: How can you tell when the Trail Blazers are playing in Detroit?
A: A crazed Piston fan calls in a bong threat."
Roger Brown reported in the Cleveland Plain Dealer that some of the Cavs' courtside season ticket holders are beginning to be unhappy with the new
part owner of the team, Usher. It seems that Usher sits at courtside too and he doesn't sit down for much of the game thereby blocking the view of
these folks who are paying top dollar for the seats. This is not the kind of treatment you want to give to the people who are buying your top priced
seats. Courtside tickets for the Cavs run $400 per fanny in a chair per game...
The NHL announced that it will cancel its player entry draft in June because there is no labor agreement and therefore no framework within which to
conduct the draft. Talk about adding insult to injury. First, the season was axed. Now the fans won't get to analyze which Finnish and/or Czech
players will go in the first round of the draft because there won't be any pools on draft picks. And how about all those hockey writers who won't be
able to do the mock draft columns and features? This has really gotten serious, folks; they have to do something about this and they have to do it
Kansas City is building a new arena in its downtown area and has hired the Anschutz Entertainment Group to find an NBA and/or an NHL team that would
move to KC to play in this new arena when it is ready in 2007. Anschutz Entertainment Group says that "several" teams in the NBA and the NHL have
shown "great interest". Really? The Orlando Magic seems to be the "rumor du jour" because the city fathers in Orlando have not shown any willingness
to build a new arena there or to do any significant upgrading of the current playpen. Whatever. The NBA flopped in KC once before. The NHL had a team
in Kansas City only long enough to have tea and scones sometime in the 1970s - possibly at the same time that the NBA was there for its cameo
appearance. I understand the appeal of a new arena to a team owner, but I'd have to wonder if KC is really the venue for an NBA franchise. Given
what's going on in the NHL, I'm not sure that anywhere is a good venue for one of those franchises...
Finally, Jim Armstrong had a comment about Detroit and Detroit Pistons' fans and the Palace of Auburn Hills in a recent column in the Denver Post:
"The Palace of Auburn Hills is about to undergo a $20 million renovation. When the project is complete, each seat at the arena will come equipped with
a cup holder and a stun gun."
But don't get me wrong, I love sports...
Copyright The Sports Curmudgeon