Sunday, February 22, 2015

Dude law for attending a game in the Phog

I'm seeing some concerning behavior in Allen Fieldhouse these days--concerning enough that I think it's time that we review "dude law" for all of you guys headed to a game in the ol' barn.

1.  Thou shall not wear a shirt/garment that is out of season.  In other words, wear a damn basketball t-shirt to a basketball game and save the football shirt for a game in Memorial Stadium.

2.  Thou shall not sell or give your tickets to a fan of the opposing team.  (I don't care if a visit to Allen Fieldhouse is on their bucket list--make them get tickets through their school's allotment.)

3.  The predominant school color is blue so...wear blue.  It's okay to occasionally wear crimson/red but never when that color is the primary color of your opponent, e.g., Iowa State, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Nebraska, USC, Temple, etc.

4.  Arrive early, find your seat--don't be that guy who shows up during the alma mater/national anthem/pregame hype video(s.)

5.  It's okay to yell at the refs.  It's not okay to suggest that you saw the play better than the ref when your perch is 100 feet away.  (I'm looking at you, dude in section 10 who likes to flip the refs off when he disagrees with the call.)

6.  If you're over 30, you are not allowed to wear your team's jersey.  Just.  Don't.  (And, it's never, EVER okay to wear your team's basketball jersey without a t-shirt/shirt underneath unless you're one of the cut dudes out on the court.)

7.  If you're going to leave the game early, Kansas had better be up by 20 with two minutes or less to play.  (Or, your wife just called to say she's headed to the hospital to deliver your baby...)

8.  It's okay to eat concession food at your seat at an outdoor arena/stadium.  It's not okay to eat concession food at your seat in cramped Allen Fieldhouse.  If by chance you spill your drink, IMMEDIATELY notify the person sitting in front of you who's about to have a coat ruined.

9.  Sit your behind down squarely on your seat a good seat-mate.

10.  Always keep in mind that someone else would love to have your seat, no matter the game--never take for granted that you are in the building, the "cathedral of college basketball."

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The impact of Dean Smith

Has there been a coach in college basketball history who has impacted the game more than Dean Smith?  Mull on that question for a minute and let me ask it again--has there been a coach in college basketball history who has impacted the game more than Dean Smith?

I know there will be outcries for John Wooden and perhaps Pete Newell, Henry Iba or even another Kansas product, Phog Allen.  But, I think you'd be hard-pressed to identify another coach whose system (Coach Smith would say "philosophy") impacted the game more.

Smith's various schemes, offensively and defensively, have been copied by coaches since the 1960's.  The run-and-jump defense was the precursor to today's trapping man-to-man principles in the full-court and half-court; the famous Four Corners offense, used in the era of no shot clock, bred the idea of spreading the floor and letting your best ballhandler penetrate and create.  We can also see Smith's principles in what a coach like Bill Self has done this year with talented freshmen Kelly Oubre and Cliff Alexander, i.e., you have to practice well and produce in order to get minutes on the floor during a game--your preseason/high school credentials are of no use here.  (Smith famously had a very lauded freshman class play a 20-minute game against the upperclassmen--that freshmen group lost by 46.  His lesson--here, you're part of our system/philosophy.)

Watch a game today and see the scorer point to the player who provided the assist.  That's a Smith principle.  Watch a game today and see the players on the bench stand and applaud when another comes out of the game.  That's a Smith principle.  See another player help his teammate up off of the floor.  That too is a Smith principle.

Dean was criticized, and probably fairly, for what many viewed as the rigidity of his system.  The oft-told joke was that Smith was the only guy who could hold Michael Jordan under 20 points.  True?  Maybe; but to Smith the point was that no player--not even a young Michael Jordan--was above the system that was Carolina basketball.

Smith's impact reached far beyond the arena and, in typical fashion, few knew of his philanthropy and stands on social issues.  The son of Baptist teachers, Smith came from humble beginnings in Emporia, KS, and consistently stood up for the less fortunate and oppressed.  He was humble and deferential; sometimes petty in his beefs with fellow coaches; loved reverentially by his assistant coaches, players and staff.

Many in this part of the world never forgave Smith for what appeared to be his recruitment of Roy Williams back to North Carolina in 2003.  Here's hoping that episode can be forgotten and that Smith's impact on the great game of basketball, and the world around him, can be celebrated.