Posts Tagged ‘the best-looking coaches in college basketball’

The Double Bonus: The Coaching Conundrum

With two of the four teams generally considered “elite” losing to unranked teams at home this week (Syracuse to Louisville, Villanova to UConn), Kansas and Kentucky are presumably more solidly entrenched as the two best teams, both in the rankings and in peoples’ minds. They are the only two teams left with just one loss and they are both loaded with talent projected to go in the first round of the NBA Draft (Kansas has Xavier Henry, Cole Aldrich, and Sherron Collins; Kentucky has John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, and Patrick Patterson). Kentucky, though, has already faced two close calls this week, needing overtime to win at Mississippi State, and facing Tennessee in a game that went back and forth until the Wildcats pulled away during the last eight minutes.

During that game, however, I started wondering an odd thing: Is Bruce Pearl an underrated coach? This seems like an odd thing to say about a guy whose team is coming off back-to-back double-digit losses, who has never made it past the Sweet 16 of an NCAA Tournament, and isn’t even the biggest basketball coach at his own school. He is  more known for things like taking his shirt off at a Lady Vols game and his feud with John Calipari than for anything to do with coaching.

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The Double Bonus: It’s a Wall World After All

We’re still playing around with the format a little and how to best differentiate what John S says from what Tim says (besides a close, personal knowledge of their writing styles, natch). In this issue of The Double Bonus, John S’s insights are in sans-serif Verdana font while Tim’s are in smaller serifed Times New Roman. Everybody on board? Good.

It’s clear at this point in the season that John Wall is the biggest the story in college basketball. The Kentucky freshman, already the frontrunner to win Player of the Year, is the latest in a line of freshman stars to thrive in the NCAA since the NBA instituted its infamous “one-and-done” rule in 2006. But unlike Greg Oden, Kevin Durant, and Michael Beasley, Wall’s presence is being felt at the point, where he has been running the entire Wildcat offense since the season began. The immediacy of his impact and the sheer impressiveness of his athleticism put him ahead of where Tyreke Evans and even Derrick Rose were at this point in their freshman seasons.

The most surprising thing about Wall’s rookie season, though,* is how quickly he was anointed by fans and the press. Highly touted freshman usually face a fair amount of scrutiny and, as a result, criticism. Oden, for example, was hampered by injuries early in 2006-07 and was facing questions about when he would “cut loose” all season long. Guys like Beasley, Rose, and O.J. Mayo had to face questions about their character and maturity throughout the season (and there is evidence against Wall in this area). Even the beloved Durant’s breakout performance (on a national stage, at least) didn’t come until January, against Oklahoma State. But Wall seems to have been beloved since his debut (although hitting a game-winner at the buzzer in your first game IS a pretty good debut). Continue reading