OK, I may be dying in my NCAA pool, but I still love the event. Last night (Thursday) all four games were interesting (average winning margin of 3.5 points, including two 1 point games). Southern Illinois proved that their incredible defensive reputation was completely deserved, even in a close loss. Ohio State somehow escaped once again. Texas A&M played a great one against Memphis (truly one of those games that neither deserved to lose).
And at the same time some interesting hoops news. What does 9 straight 20 win seasons, 9 straight NCAA tournament appearances and one national championship get you? If you coach Kentucky there was a good chance it got you a free ride out of town. So in a pre-emptive move Tubby Smith takes a job at Minnesota. OK, that’s a serious step down, so he must have known he was gone.
And Steve Alford was about to get run out of Iowa, so he takes the head coaching job at New Mexico. I’m a huge Alford fan as a player, because he was a part of the Indiana national championship team. He was a pure shooter. From the free throw line he was so automatic that the crowd would mimic his shooting routine by chanting “socks, butt, 1,2,3, swish”. He wiped his hands on the backs of his socks, then the back of his shorts, dribble three times and about 96% of the time swish the shot (the crowd would yell “swish” as the ball left his hands, we were that confident).
But being a great college player and playing under Bob Knight doesn’t always make you a great coach. I hope Alford is good for New Mexico, because I really like him. But his record at Iowa was spotty.
Speaking of great guards that played for Coach Knight, Isiah Thomas is managing to not get the Knicks into the playoffs, despite being in the weakest conference in NBA history. I loved Isiah as a player, but I can’t stand him as a GM and I’m not in love with him as a coach.
But that’s the pros. College hoops is much more interesting. Vandy and G’Town in a thriller and Butler gave Florida a good run. More great games…