Tuesday’s Tidbits: Crean, Cards, Cats & Mo’

Sayonara Derrick. The well-traveled Mr. Caracter apparently has had enough of western Texas, and, after one partial season toiling for the over-rated Miners of UTEP, is movin’ on.

Reports are that he’ll put his name into the NBA draft hopper.

Wonder if he’s checked with his longtime pal E5 to get a sense of how much fun it will be to play for the Sioux Falls Skyforce or Fort Wayne Mad Ants in the NBA Developmental League, where DC’s take home would be $20,000/ year or less?

St. John’s Sleaze. Steve Lavin is one of my favorite college hoops TV pundits. Not only does he have a great coif, but he’s funny, irreverent, and more insightful than most of his brethren.

I would be most sad if he wanders into the muck at St. John’s. To prevail at the power of yesteryear, any coach will have to tap into the local talent. Which obviously comes with a price. The NY area AAU “coaches” have been stunningly upfront and public about the situation. Which boils down to “Take care of us, and we’ll take care of the Johnnies.”

A friend mused the other day whether Louie C had to pay off those guy’s during the halcyon days in the 80s? While I’m sure he did what most everybody has to do to get his stars, it’s a different world these days. Which is to say Oregon is not the only school where Nike calls all the shots.

Conundrum of Crean & Crimson. Remember how when The Rick was hired by U of L, Cardinal fans, acknowledging the devil’s bargain to sign their hated rival’s former coach, were sure that another NC2A title would come just three or four recruiting classes hence. Now they’re wondering wha’ happened?

Well, Indiana Hoosier fans felt much the same when they stole Tom Izzo disciple Tom Crean from Marquette. Little did they realize what a total fumigation and renovation would take place in Bloomington. But now, after a couple of expected but less than fun rebuilding years, the IU nation is getting antsy.

For some reason, the Indiana recruits that don’t slip out of the state are looking to Lafayette. Seems as if the really good ones arent’ falling prey to the ancient history that is the glory of Branch, Bobby and those stripped warm up pants.

A Last Look Back at the Cats. I can’t shake the irony of a conversation I had with an inveterate citizen of the Big Blue Nation last week. The gist of his spin is that Calipari’s one-and-done system is the new reality of college hoops.

Last week’s events have shown how shaky that argument is.

The four teams that arrive in Indy this weekend have ZERO one-and-doners on the rosters. An anomaly? Perhaps. But, year in and year out, it’s proven that national champs are based on a foundation of experience.

And UK, with its two All-American lottery pick frosh, its junior lottery pick and another first round draftee starting, and another possible lottery pick on the bench, didn’t make it to the Final Four. Eric Crawford has astutely pointed out that two A-A first teamers haven’t historically guaranteed a Final Four berth. But most rare — since the days of UCLA when guys like Curtis Rowe and Sidney Wicks got little PT before their junior seasons — is the team that has been as deeply loaded as this season’s edition of the Cats.

Bottom Line: The team underperformed — as should have been expected with such youth but was overlooked — when it really mattered.

Bottom Line: John Calipari’s coaching shortcomings were laid bare before the nation. His deer in the headlights sideline demeanor as the Mountaineers grabbed a stranglehold on the tilt underscored this truism. The guy can recruit like no other. The guy can work a room like no other. The guy can shill like no other. But when it comes to Xs and 0s, well, he’s middle of the pack.

And, as I asked rhetorically in my pre-tourney piece on the legacy of these freshmen, what will it be like for the BBN when it’s forced to root for a different conglomeration of Cats every single year? How long will they abide a new battalion of mercenaries every season? Will 30 Ws and a walkover in the SEC tourney suffice if there are no Final Fours or titles?

Which bring us to . . .

. . . Malaise in the Ville. Louisville fans are still clearing the detritus of this most disappointing season. And wondering about a recruiting class coming in next fall that is less than top shelf.

And, if the initial reactions to my rumor previously posted that The Rick is about to sign a “lifetime contract” are typical, there is a burgeoning belief that maybe it’s time to move on to a younger coach with new ideas.

All of which is to say that next season in Kentuckiana is going to be one of the more interesting — if not successful — in a long while. Big questions must be answered by Cats, Cards and Hoosiers one and all.

But, hey, there’s three more games this season. Which I’ll address in a later post.

– Seedy K

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