Home » Columns » Currently Reading:

Basketball Factories

February 12, 2002 Columns No Comments



Basketball Factories

by Michael Ermitage


It was Wednesday night and I was crying in my beer. My alma mater had suffered yet another embarrassing defeat. And I asked myself why? How? What makes a once-proud program turn into the whipping boys of the conference, the punch line to every message board joke? After some long, hard thought, I came to a pleasing explanation. A smile crept across my face and I was glad for the reason my team currently couldn’t beat the Washington Generals. It is because my team is a true college program and not a modern-day college powerhouse.

An elite group has certainly emerged in college hoops today. A basketball royal class. Duke, Kansas, UCLA, Arizona, Florida, and Kentucky are your main culprits. Nationwide recruiting, huge coaching salaries, and low academic standards mark these programs. Let’s take defending national champion Duke as an example. The Blue Devils have two scholarship players from their home state of North Carolina. They are junior guard Andy Borman and sophomore forward Reggie Love, hardly household names. Perhaps this is the best strategy for Duke, who boasts of a diverse, nationwide student body. As much as ESPN would like to paint UNC and Duke as a fierce rivalry, this doesn’t actually exist. North Carolina rules the state since it is the large state school with a huge alumni base. Many of Duke’s graduates are from other states to begin with and often leave the state after their four years at Durham. Few kids shoot hoops in the state of North Carolina with Duke hoop dreams.

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski has a lifetime contract. Duke did not disclose the economic details of the deal, but they indicated that Krzyzewski would be “well-compensated.” Top-notch coaches make anywhere from $150,000 to $450,000 per year before other intangibles. Those intangibles are television shows, radio shows, shoe contracts, commercials etc. Often the total package is in excess of a million dollars per year. There is absolutely no doubt that Coach K makes at least a $1 million per year.

Now, I know that many fans will cry bloody murder when I say that Duke has low academic standards. But folks, the NCAA has set up a level playing field and no matter the academic reputation of an institution, the minimum requirements for a scholarship basketball player are the same across the board. The absolute minimum grade point average for prospective Division-I basketball players is 2.0 while the minimum SAT score is 820. Even at Duke. And every program takes questionable athletes if the player can help the team.

All this adds up to a basketball factory. The rest of Division I – the basketball bourgeoisie – has definitely followed Duke’s lead. They just aren’t as good at it. But I like to contend that there is still a semblance of old-fashioned college student-athletes out there fueling old-fashioned college programs. And you don’t have to read John Feinstein’s “The Last Amateurs” to find it. It exists in every major conference – just look at the middle-to-bottom of the pack teams. There you will see teams full of homegrown products, coached by moderately-paid former assistant coaches with a few players that are actually there to get an education. Although, sadly, not many. This is where we get our greatest college basketball stories.

Michigan State is a perfect example. The Spartans have a program that has ebbed and flowed. They recently won a National Championship fueled by the play of several home-state products – the Flintstones – Mateen Cleaves, Morris Petersen, Charlie Bell and Antonio Smith. Finally, after 21 years and some awful seasons, the Spartans reaped the rewards of kids who always wanted to wear the green and white. Tom Izzo, a class act who was awarded the job after spending 12 years as former coach Jud Heathcote’s assistant, led them. He wasn’t handpicked, wooed by big dollars or recruited by a committee. This season, Izzo’s newest home-grown kids haven’t developed as he liked and State is experiencing a bit of a down turn. Inevitable for a true college program, unacceptable at a college powerhouse.

Everyone wants to be Duke. Everyone is trying to be them, trying to be in the national picture year in and year out. They graduate most of their players and they are the standard by which the rest of the college basketball world measures itself. But it’s come at a price – the price of community.

So, as the season turns and the NIT comes calling, I will not hang my head. Instead, I’ll appreciate the home-state kids making a dream come true. I’ll appreciate the hard-working coach who has spent his career at the school. I’ll appreciate the gunner who is looking forward to his career as a pharmacist or an engineer. And I’ll hope the new no-name kids coming in next year make a name for themselves. I’ll appreciate college basketball as it was intended to be.

     

Comment on this Article:







Subscribe to Hoopville

Enter your email address to subscribe to Hoopville

Advertisement


Hoopville Archives

College Basketball Tonight

We hope you enjoyed COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT during the 2016 NCAA Tournament. COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT is a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran college basketball broadcaster Ted Sarandis, along with co-hosts Mike Jarvis and Terry O'Connor, both former Division I coaches. It also included many great guests, including Hoopville's own Phil Kasiecki.

The show aired on AM 710 WOR in New York City on Sunday evenings starting with Selection Sunday and running through the NCAA Tournament.

Here are links to the shows:

March 13, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 20, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 27, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

April 3, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

Everybody Needs a Head Coach

Former college basketball coach Mike Jarvis has a new book out, Everybody Needs a Head Coach.

"As you read this book, I hope that Coach Jarvis' experiences inspire you to find your purpose in life."
-Patrick Ewing, NBA Hall of Fame center

"Mike Jarvis' is one of my special friends. I am so pleased that he has taken the time to write this fabulous book."
-Mike Krzyzewski, Five-time NCAA championship head coach, Duke Blue Devils

"In reading this book, I can see that Mike hasn't lost his edge or his purpose. Readers should take a look at what he has to say."
-Jim Calhoun, Three-time NCAA champion, UConn Men's basketball

Review on Hoopville coming soon!

Coaching Changes and NBA Draft Early Entrants

The coaching carousel is moving. Keep track of the latest coaching changes right here on Hoopville.

Also, keep track of players who have declared early for the NBA Draft.

Hoopville Podcasts

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – August 17, 2017

August 18, 2017 by

In our latest podcast, we check in with some good news from a few teams overseas after a big scare, plus a big addition for a championship contender, a conference on the rise, and a great coach thinking about a return to the bench.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – June 21, 2017

June 21, 2017 by

In our latest podcast, we talk about the NBA Draft, of course, but spend much more time on the happenings at Ohio State and Louisville and the implications starting next season.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – May 17, 2017

May 18, 2017 by

In our latest podcast, we start with the NBA Draft Lottery, then talk about a big pickup for Duke, important transfers, the coaching carousel winding down and much more.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – April 27, 2017

April 27, 2017 by

In our latest podcast, the business of college sports, as well as that of sports media, takes center stage. We talk about the layoffs at ESPN, college basketball’s opening night, and Wichita State’s departure from the Missouri Valley Conference. We close with thoughts on a departed friend of the media business as well.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – April 11, 2017

April 11, 2017 by

In our first off-season edition, we look back on the season that just ended, including redemption for one team and a big development for a conference that has had more questions than success on the hardwood. We also look at players coming and going, as well as big coaching news on a day where there was a lot of it.

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter

Recruiting Coverage

Lincoln captures Hamilton Park title

August 15, 2017 by

For the first time, a public school won the Hamilton Park Summer League, and they were led by a big effort from a junior point guard in the title game.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Boston Shootout

June 12, 2017 by

Some news and notes coming from the second and final day of action at the 2017 Boston Shootout, where the host program provided plenty of talent, but so did a program that produced a team that beat them.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Northeast Hoops Festival

April 11, 2017 by

The Northeast Hoops Festival helped bring in the new spring travel season in New England, and we have notes from some of Saturday’s action.

2016 Boston Back to School Showcase notes

September 12, 2016 by

We look back at the 2016 Boston Back to School Showcase, where a couple of Boston City League teams were among the most impressive on the day.

2016 Hoopville Spring Finale championship recap

June 28, 2016 by

We look back at the championship games of the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, which had a big local flavor as one might have expected.