Tag Archives: Mike Krzyzewski

Mike Krzyzewski is as Overrated as Roy Williams is Underrated

When the question of the best coach in men’s college basketball gets asked, many immediately respond with Coach Mike Krzyzewski. He has over 1,000 career wins, five NCAA Championships and is currently the man leading USA Men’s Basketball at the Olympics.

His career numbers are impressive — since the 1983-84 season he has only missed one NCAA Tournament. There’s been 12 Final Fours, 12 ACC regular season championships and 13 ACC conference tournament championships.

From the 96-97 to 00-01 seasons Duke won five straight regular season titles. The final three years of that stretch included three straight ACC tournament championships to go with the regular season titles. There were two Final Four’s, with an NCAA Championship in 00-01.

That was easily the most dominant stretch of Coach K’s coaching career.

While Duke won the NCAA Tournament in the 2014-15 season, it’s been six years since they’ve won the ACC regular season, and five since they’ve won the ACC Tournament. That’s a decent drought for a coach considered head and shoulders above his peers.

Back to the question — Who is the best coach in men’s college basketball? How many names were brought up before Roy Williams? I personally don’t put him in my top 5, which is telling since North Carolina is one of three teams I follow closely.

He’s often labeled as a coach who gets by with the talent on his roster, one who lacks the ability to make in-game adjustments. Sometimes it seems as if UNC finishes games with more timeouts than they started with.

Furthermore, there’s criticism that he’s been unable to land top-tier high school prospects in recent years. It’s pretty impressive when you can be accused of relying on your team’s talent, while also being blasted for the lack of it.

Williams has won 16 regular season conference championships, including seven as the head coach of UNC. He has two national championships in eight trips to the Final Four.

Yet, he’s overlooked by the public, underrated amongst his own fan base.

Where Coach K and Duke don’t have an ACC regular season championship in six years, Williams and UNC have three. That’s telling for two elite coaches in the same conference — with a large gap in how they’re perceived by the public.

Coach K very may well be the best coach around, but good ol’ Roy deserves some respect as well.

For what it’s worth, here is my top 5 list of active men’s college basketball coaches:

  1. Rick Pitino (7 Final Fours, 2 National Championships)
  2. Tom Izzo (7 Final Fours, 1 National Championship)
  3. Mike Krzyzewski (12 Final Fours, 5 National Championships)
  4. John Calipari (4 Final Fours, 1 National Championship)
  5. Jim Boeheim (5 Final Fours, 1 National Championship)

Active wins leaders:

  1. Mike Krzyzewski, 1043
  2. Jim Boeheim, 989
  3. Roy Williams, 783 (8 Final Fours, 2 National Championships)
  4. Rick Pitino, 743
  5. Bob Huggins, 719 (2 Final Fours)

While I applaud Krzyzewski for building Duke into the power it is today, I still can’t shake the feeling that too many of his teams in recent memory have underperformed. Top-level talent should produce consistent top-level results — both in the regular season and postseason.

This is why I give Pitino and Izzo the top spots, they’ve done more with less.

Coach K is overrated — somehow the coach who has won more games than anyone, hasn’t won enough. Roy Williams is underrated — viewed as a man just trying not to screw up a program that runs itself.

‘Tis how it goes when you’re the head men at Duke and North Carolina.

E-mail Zak at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @playorbplayd.

Photo courtesy of Flickr/Bryan Horowitz

NCAA Tournament: West Region Notebook

We are at the end of the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament and what have we learned in the West region? This is the region that is considered the weakest out of the four in the tournament, but has it proved itself more than the others?

Overall, the 2016 Big Dance has shown fans the thrilling aspect of an upset and the West region has certainly not been immune to it.

Round 1 and 2 Review

Being the No. 1 seed, the Oregon Ducks, have not faced the stiffest of competition so far. Their first round match was against No. 16 seed Holy Cross and that was a blowout 91-52. Holy Cross was a junior high team compared to the Pac-12 Champion Ducks and it was ugly from the start. Next up for Oregon were the Saint Joseph Hawks who gave the Ducks more of a game. In the end Oregon made the plays and fought through some tough times to set up the showdown with the Duke Blue Devils.

Speaking of the defending National Champion Blue Devils, they have moved onto the Sweet 16 by taking care of business with UNC Wilmington in the first round and then taking care of an upstart Yale team that had upset the Baylor Bears in the first round. Grayson Allen is proving that he just might put this team on his back to make a deep run in the Tournament, but with a possible date with Oregon coming, that may be a little more difficult.

Oklahoma, the No. 2 seed, has had a fairly easy time getting past the first couple rounds of the tournament as well. They played Cal State-Bakersfield in the first round and dispatched them by 14 points. On Sunday afternoon, the Sooners took care of a pesky Virginia Commonwealth team by a score of 85-81 and moved into the third round where they will play the Texas A&M Aggies who used a 14-2 run in the last 31 seconds to advance.

Upset City

To go through an NCAA Tournament without anybody getting upset would be something short of a miracle. That miracle did not occur in the West region this opening weekend.

The popular upset pick in many brackets was the Yale/Baylor matchup in the first round and it did not disappoint. Yale outrebounded and outplayed the more athletic Baylor Bears in a crazy 79-75 win. Yale went was on fire from three-point range and Baylor seemed like it was going through the motions for most of the game. Yale brought their game and Baylor did not and to the victor go the spoils.

To say it’s not fun watching a higher seed go down to a lower seed would be a gross lie for many people. It’s the whole David versus Goliath type of thinking, so watching Yale win was fun, but it wasn’t the only lower seed team to slay a high seed.

Ladies and gentlemen, let’s welcome the University of Northern Iowa to the show. UNI, an 11 seed, played the Texas Longhorns, a six seed, in the first round. The game was close the whole way with seven lead changes, eight ties, and players in foul trouble everywhere. What did UNI do with only 2.7 seconds left? Simply tell Paul Jesperson to get the best possible shot off. Jesperson gets the ball to mid-court and lets it fly. Evidently, the bank was open and the ball goes in off the backboard for the 75-72 win. Craziness by UNI ensues and the shot gets replayed about a million times on any sports show in the country. The shot exemplifies what this Big Dance is all about. It’s what the fans enjoy seeing and I don’t think it could have been any more dramatic.

Final Thoughts

The West may not have the teams that everybody follows most of the time, but there has been some exciting, fun basketball being played out in the West. Who comes out of the West? I did say Oregon would come out of the region because I like the match-up problems it can create for its opponents, but as we have seen from the first two rounds of play, anything can happen.

E-mail Mike at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @pigskinopinion.

Campus Pressbox #5: Sketchy Tournament Officiating

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Damien (@damienbowman) and Mike (@pigskinopinion) are joined by basketball guru Damon Del Rosario (@DamoKnowsSports) and Campus Pressbox Kentucky writer Warren Taylor (@TeddyNoir) to talk about the Men’s championship game, tournament officiating, Kentucky players declaring and Trey Lewis’ transfer to Louisville.

Links:

NCAA Championship: Badgering the Blue Bloods
Jeff Capel passes on Arizona State
Buffalo coach Bobby Hurley to Arizona State
Buffalo Bulls Basketball Coaching Search: Early candidates to replace Bobby Hurley
Oh God, You Blue Devil: How Duke Did Away With the Badgers
Wisconsin’s Offense Wilts, But That’s Nothing New In The NCAA Championship Game
NCAA Officiating Head: Refs Never Saw Best Angle Of Controversial Play
NCAA VP: Officials did see all replay angles of disputed out-of-bounds call 
Bo Ryan is mad at officials like everyone else
7 Kentucky basketball players will enter NBA Draft
UK’s Harrison twins to enter draft
Trey Lewis announces U of L transfer plans
Q&A: Trey Lewis on his transfer to U of L
Shaqquan Aaron to transfer from Louisville
Damien Bowman: Tournament officials tweet 3/22

Eight Observations from Championship Monday

1. Two Duke freshman made the difference, but not the ones we expected

We all anticipated that Jahlil Okafor and Justise Winslow would be the most noteworthy freshmen playing in the tournament final. After all, they had been the stars of the tournament and were the two highest rated NBA draft prospects on Duke’s squad. As it turned out, foul trouble kept them both at bay for much of the game, which forced Grayson Allen and Tyus Jones to fill the void. They responded in a huge way.

Allen scored 16 points, including eight in a row early in the second half when Wisconsin was threatening to pull away. The way that he rose to the occasion on the biggest stage was aptly described by Bill Raftery as “fearless.”

Tyus Jones, the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player, was lethal in the second half, scoring 19 of his 23 points. As he had done all season long, Jones accepted the role as Duke’s closer and made a few ballsy 3s that most freshmen would not even think about attempting. The poise that he displays as such a young player really is remarkable.

2. Jahlil Okafor was far from his best

He may very well be the number one pick in June’s NBA draft, but he did not play to his potential in Monday’s game. Okafor missed several bank shots near the basket that he normally buries. He also struggled to stay out of foul trouble, which limited his minutes.

Fortunately, he scored two important baskets at the tail end of the game. On one of those buckets, he muscled through an attempted wrap up by Kaminsky to score the hoop plus the harm.

3. Frank Kaminsky can be a pro

I still don’t understand all the skepticism around Frank Kaminsky’s future as an NBA player. The guy is 7 feet tall with an excellent outside shot, crafty post moves, great footwork, and enough court awareness to be an effective passer. Monday he also showed me that he has the ball-handling ability and quickness to beat players off the dribble. He also played smart defense on Okafor and came up with a several rebounds in traffic.

I believe that he has plenty of tools to be a productive big man at the next level.

4. This game mirrored the teams’ first meeting

Much like the first time that these two teams met, Wisconsin held a late lead and even looked like the better team for much of the game. Also like their first meeting, Tyus Jones led Duke on a late charge to seize control of the game late.
While Duke may not have dominated the entire game, they beat Wisconsin twice, nearly the exact same way each time. They seem to know how to beat the Badgers.

5. The first half was incredibly close

This was the first NCAA Championship game to be tied at the half since 1988. It was a fitting way to head to the locker rooms after finishing a first half that featured 13 lead changes. Neither team was able to build a lead of much more than a couple points, which kept both sides of the crowd energized, adding to the already stellar atmosphere.

6. Wisconsin’s red shorts are awful

Somehow they were even less appealing tonight than they were against Kentucky. They look like the players have whitey tighties sticking out the top of their red shorts. No one wants that. They desperately need new uniforms before next season.

7. Coach K hasn’t lost an ounce of energy

Even after more than 1,000 wins and 5 national championships, Coach K is as enthusiastic as ever. He hopped around on the sideline all game as he fed his players directions through a series of points and yells. He finally resumed his tranquil demeanor after the final horn sounded and he unleashed a brief fist pump before heading over to shake hands with Coach Ryan.

8. Eight was enough

Neither team was particularly deep. Wisconsin played seven players and Duke stuck with their same trusted eight. It turned out that eight was plenty. Despite foul trouble for nearly the entire game, Coach K always managed to keep his team within striking distance. Then in the final minutes, he turned to Tyus Jones who delivered once again to help Duke secure the title.

 

What do you think? Follow Jared on Twitter (@JaredAndrews3) or leave a comment! Make sure to like More Than a Fan on Facebook!

Cleveland Cavaliers Draft: Who Is Number One?

For David Griffin and the Cleveland Cavaliers front office decision time is getting closer and closer, not for deciding on the next head coach (although that decision must also be made) but what they will do with the number one overall pick in the upcoming NBA Draft. Unlike previous years there appears to be some upper level talent at the top of this year’s draft. What the Cavs decide to do with the pick could trigger the turnaround Cavs fans have been waiting for since The Letter. So which of the perceived top three prospects (Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Joel Embiid) is the best fit for the Cavs? Let’s take a look.

Andrew Wiggins

WigginsThe popular pick for the Cavs seems to be Andrew Wiggins. Wiggins is an extremely athletic small forward who many believe is the best player in this year’s draft class. Some think he is the most athletic player to come out of the draft since LeBron James. That’s all well and good, but can all of that translate onto the floor? I mean, a 44” standing vertical is impressive, but NBA teams don’t draft Olympic high jumpers to their teams. Now there’s no doubting Wiggins can play. He finished the season as a 2nd Team All-American and averaged 17.1 points and 5.9 rebounds per game. He’s also known as a solid defender. The issue I have with Wiggins to the Cavs is roster fit. From a positional standpoint Wiggins could come in and start right away as small forward is a position of need for the Cavs. That doesn’t mean Wiggins is the right man to fill that position. While he is very athletic and a nightmare in transition, the big question here is how would he fit with the Cavs current roster – specifically Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters? Perhaps if the Cavs draft Wiggins one of those two players gets traded (presumably Waiters, but at this point who knows – especially with Irving’s contract situation), but for the sake of argument let’s assume Kyrie and Dion both stay and Wiggins is added. One of the more concerning flaws in his game (which shows up on tape) is his lack of movement without the ball. A 44” vertical won’t help Wiggins make a backdoor cut to get open. A quick first step doesn’t mean a thing if you stand out on the perimeter watching somebody else attack the basket.

This also ties in with another knock on Wiggins, his lack of aggression. Perhaps this partly stems from the fact that he isn’t the best ball handler, especially when you consider his athleticism, but a player who isn’t aggressive and doesn’t move without the ball (at least consistently) isn’t a great fit for a team that has two players (Kyrie and Dion) who are aggressive, ball dominant and want to attack the basket. Furthermore, at times he will settle for lower percentage jump shot instead of driving towards the basket for a higher percentage shot (and to possibly draw a foul). I won’t lead an angry mob if Wiggins is the selection for the Cavs. He has plenty of upside, but being aggressive and moving without the ball are two fundamental flaws that make Wiggins a not so great fit for the Cavs – or at least a challenging fit.

Jabari Parker

ParkerDuke forward Jabari Parker is thought of as the third player of the top three candidates by many. However, while he isn’t nearly as athletic as Wiggins, I feel Parker is the better fit for the Cavs when comparing the two. Both players would fill a position of need and both players can score. Parker was a consensus 1st Team All-American last season, averaging 19.1 points and 8.7 rebounds per game. While both players stand at 6’8” Parker is the bigger player, weighing in at 240 pounds (Wiggins weighs in right around 200 pounds). Two things stick out to me in regards to Parker, despite his ability to score he is a team focused player and he can play without the ball in his hands. Parker has a good understanding of the game, which undoubtedly was nurtured in his one season under Coach Mike Krzyzewski. In reviewing games, you’ll find Parker constantly on the move without the ball in his hands. When he does have the ball in his hands it’s extremely difficult for wing defenders to stop him when he attacks the basket. Simply put, he is stronger most other small forwards he will matchup against. He is a good shooter and attacks the ball for a rebound on both ends.

This doesn’t mean Parker is flawless. He isn’t the fastest player on the floor and can struggle on defense at times because of this. However, unlike Wiggins, nobody is questioning Parker’s work ethic. Many compare him to Paul Pierce, somebody also considered to be not the quickest, most athletic player on the floor. At some point athleticism will fade, or at least blend in. Drive is what separates Parker from Wiggins.

Joel Embiid

EmbiidIn my opinion, Joel Embiid should be the selection for the Cavs with the first overall pick. The Kansas center would provide an immediate upgrade to the position for the Cavs and would potentially give the team a dominant big man who has drawn comparisons to Hakeem Olajuwon. While he might not ever be an elite scorer (few NBA centers are), Embiid can put up solid numbers offensively. Averaging just over 23 minutes per game, Embiid shot 62.6% from the floor and averaged 11.2 points per game. He is also able to impact the game defensively, averaging 2.6 blocks per game while pulling down 8.1 rebounds. The best part about Embiid, aside from the fact he is an athletic (former soccer player) 7’ 250 pound big man who can run the floor, is that he is still extremely raw. He has only been playing organized basketball since 2011, however he is clearly showing a natural feel for the game. As a center he isn’t somebody who needs the ball in his hands to be effective, another positive when you consider the current Cavs roster. There are some durability concerns (although ESPN’s Chad Ford says his back cleared out in Cleveland) and obviously his lack of basketball experience can lead to a learning curve and some frustrating mental lapses, but Embiid is the best fit for the when you consider the current roster and couple that with his tremendous upside.

Final Thoughts

All three players have serious NBA upside. While I prefer Embiid and Parker to Wiggins, I wouldn’t be upset with any one of the three coming to Cleveland. However, the past few seasons the Cavs seemed to be drafting (what they perceived to be) the best player available. That’s fine for a year or two, but at some point you have to start looking at player/roster fit. To me, it’s clear the Joel Embiid is the best fit for the Cavs roster.