Monday, August 20, 2012

Is Penn State the Tip of the Iceberg?

Pete Thamel at the New York Times has a revelatory story about Dan Dakich's stint as the head coach of West Virginia's men's basketball team. If you're like me, your first question is, "Dan Dakich was the coach of West Virginia's men's basketball team?" Yes, he was. But it is a bit like how Bobby Knight was once the coach of Wisconsin's basketball team—the marriage didn't last long. In Dakich's case, just eight days. But they were a tumultuous eight days, as Thamel reports:
Some of the most challenging items on Dakich’s list involved Jonathan Hargett, a top recruit from Richmond who had just completed his freshman season at West Virginia. 
Dakich said Hargett told him that he had been promised $20,000 a year for three years, and that he had not been paid the full amount.
So Dakich discovered that the WVU basketball team was not only promising to pay its players cash for playing, but that WVU didn't have the decency to actually come up with the money.

Dakich—whom I admire as a straight-talking (if sometimes dense) color guy on BTN broadcasts—went straight to the president of university, David Hardesty. Things, um, did not go well.
Dakich said he told Hardesty about Western Union receipts that seemed to show Hargett had received money in violation of N.C.A.A. rules. He also relayed Hargett’s comments that the university had not paid him money that had been promised to him.
Dakich recalls Hardesty telling him, “If you go any farther with this, we’ll destroy you.”
Hadesty calls Dachih's account "a gross exaggeration." Asked to clarify, Hardesty explained, "I didn't say I would destroy him. I said I would make his life such a living hell, that he would wish longingly for death. Come on, I was a university president, not a mob boss. I don't directly threaten to destroy people." To be clear, I made that last part up, but it is arguably less damning that what Hardesty actually said: "I did not intend to threaten him. At no time in this process did I do that. That would be so strange."

That would indeed be strange. It is hard not to note the lawyerly weasel words in Hardesty's explanation. (Sure enough, Hardesty is a law professor.) He does not say that he didn't threaten Dakich; he says he didn't "intend" to threaten him. Perhaps reasonable people can disagree about whether "we'll destroy you" is a threat or is so over the top that it can only be interpreted as an attempt at comedy. Either way, we can all agree that it was so, so very strange.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Bo changing recruiting philosophy?

When Bo Ryan took over the Badgers he was immediately successful despite having undersized teams. Bo was faced with playing a big goon (Jason Chappell, Dave Mader, Andreas Helmigk) or an undersized forward at center like Mike Wilkinson. While those early teams were successfull, they were over matched against teams with size. In the NCAA tourney, players like Marquis Estill (Kentucky), Chris Wilcox (Maryland) and Sean May (UNC) just destroyed UW. To be fair, those were great college players and they destroyed a lot of teams.
After those first few years it seemed Bo decided that in order to compete for a national championship he needed size and started recruiting size for size sake. Bo was lucky to have talented in state Bigs Brian Butch and Greg Stiemsma commit to UW in the early years. Those teams with Butch and Stiemsma playing center are arguably his best teams. Not only did they have legit defense and scoring at the 5, but players like Alando Tucker were allowed to play their natural position (small forward), instead of having to bang inside at the 4.
Butch and Stiemsma were the right guys at the right time. It's hard for a school like UW to bring in talented bigs from out of state. Bo kept giving scholarships to bigs. Some worked out, and some did not. JP Gavinski, and Ian Markoff never developed. I still have hope for Evan Anderson, but he may end up in that category as well. Bo also had success with players like Leuer, Nankvil, and Berggren.
From about Bo's 4th year until last year he used most of his scholarships on bigs. He usually had only 4 true guards on scholarship each year until last year. Last year there was Jordan Taylor, Rob Wilson, Gasser, Brust, Jackson and Marshall-6. The 2012-2013 team will be back down to 4, so was this an anomaly or the beginning of a new trend?
Based on the recruiting commitments for 2013, I am guessing trend. So far Bo has 3 guards committed for 2013- Koenig, Hill, and Dearring. This will mean that in 2013-14 UW will have 7 scholarship guards (if no one transfers). More than that, 4 of the 7 will be underclassmen.
The remaining 2 recruits for 2013 may be telling. If Bo lands 2 wings this team could be headed in another direction. Sam Decker is the only recruit for 2012, so no bigs for 2 recruiting cycles may signify a change. Are the Badgers headed for a 3 guard starting lineup as the norm?
Perhaps I am making something out of nothing here. UW has Berggren, and Kaminsky looks like he may be a great Badger for the next 3 years. Evan Anderson still has 3 years of eligibility to develop. Maybe Bo just isn't worried about his bigs. Just seems like a lot of guards coming in.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

We're going to need a bigger boat.

Advise I should have taken this weekend when me and my good friend Scott almost died on a kayaking trip to the Apostle Islands in Lake Superior. I have always enjoyed paddle sports, and this trip will not change that, but hopefully I have learned a lesson about proper equipment and training.
I guess time will tell if I actually learned anything. I tend to get more forgetful as I get older, so we'll see.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Sorry America, I just don't care

As the Olympics go on, and on, and on, I am continuously surprised by the fact I just don't care. This doesn't just apply to the opening ceremonies, the boring back and forth of a swimming event that takes 10 minutes to complete, or the water polo where there is a whistle for a penalty every 2.5 seconds but none of them seem to matter except for the annoying sound of the constantly blowing whistle. What's weird is that I don't even care about sports that I otherwise spend an inordinate and possibly unhealthy amount of time devoting my attention to, like basketball. I keep trying to watch and to care, but I just can't do it.
Maybe I'm old too school, and if there's not an enemy like the Russians then it's just no fun. Is anyone really going to be pissed if China gets more medals than the US? Our economies are completely interdependent and they have nukes, so there is no Red Dawn possibility. I even couldn't get up
for the women's tennis final which pitted US vs Russia. Sharapova is just too damn good looking.