Thursday, April 09, 2009

Moving on

Now that the basketball season has ended most teams are waiting to see who will stay and who will declare for the NBA draft. In the ACC Wake Forest has been hit the hardest so far. James Johnson will not return next season and Jeff Teague will also enter his name for the draft, though he won't hire an agent. If Teague stays in the draft, as he is likely to do, then Wake Forest will be much weaker at the wings than they were this season. Brandon Costner of N.C. State will also not return to the Wolfpack next year. Miami's Dwayne Collins will also enter his name in the draft. Besides seniors Tyler Hansbrough, Danny Green and Bobby Frasor North Carolina will also probably lose Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington. The Tar Heels have Deon Thompson returning, one of the softer post players in the ACC, and a very promising freshman in Ed Davis. Right now freshman Tyler Zeller doesn't look to be ready to contribute on a consistent basis. The Tar Heels will need immediate and significant contributions from their heralded recruiting class.

Roy Williams finally won a championship with one of the best four year players in college basketball since Tim Duncan. The current Tar Heels are an odd champion. There isn't really much that is likable about this group. Their coach is one of the biggest phonies in the game, Hansbrough may be a raging bull on the court but has all the personality of a muppet, Danny Green dropped his dancing routine but is still a buffoon, the way Lawson played towards the end of this season makes you wonder how much effort he really expended his first two seasons, it seemed to be a group without any soul. The NCAA tournament run by Carolina was impressive in some ways but how can this be a great team when they lost to Maryland and Boston College in the same season? In retrospect the out of conference schedule that North Carolina played was mediocre at best. I don't think UNC's win in the title game exonerates the ACC's dreadful performance in the post season. In some sense this championship gets Roy Williams off the hook. His bench coaching has been questioned regularly by even many North Carolina fans the past few years. As opposed to the first three seasons of Hansbrough's career this group of players had the maturity and experience to almost lead themselves to a championship. Williams will never get more from a group of players than the sum of their talent, he just isn't that kind of coach, but then again neither was Dean Smith. It is fortunate for Williams that he recruits better than just about any coach in college basketball and he may be learning how to not hamstring them in the tournament unlike all those failures when he was coach at Kansas. If Roy has figured things out look for him to add to his total of two titles unless Coach K can get his recruiting mojo back.


wmterp said...

Your opionion of Roy Williams is spot on. "I will never get more from a group of players than the sum of their talents" should be tatooed on his forehead. Watching him coach from the bench, I have often thought that he no had real understanding of what was unfolding before him. He looks like he learned basketball from a textbook.

That said, I think he has shown real ability in one important area. He can get a group of players with NBA potential to play to win. In fact, I think that is the sole objective of his coaching. He doesn't seem to employ sophisticated game plans or counter the moves of the opposition during games. He doesn't even try to prevent his players from going one-on-one. He just works at keeping his players from playing too much as individuals. He allows individuality so long as team chemistry does not break down.

Without talented players, he can't win. He certainly isn't at Gary's level as a coach. But, he does have this ability and even life-long Terp fans like us should recognize it.

Anonymous said...

Look I am a huge Terps fan, but I think you are hating on UNC a little too much. They dominated the tournament. Who cares if they lost some games during the regular season. Years from now when people look back at the 2008-2009 season they are not going to notice that UNC lost to a mediocre MD squad or that Ty Lawson may have dogged some games. They are going to see that UNC dominated the tournament with an extremely talented team. Also you can hate on Roy Williams as much as you want but he is only one of 13 coaches with two National Titles. Hopefully Gary will join that elite group one day.

Esquire said...

I think I gave Roy Williams enough credit in describing him as the best recruiter in college basketball. No one would put Roy among the best bench coaches in the game.

I don't think Gary Williams is in the same class as Roy Williams but that is beside the point. Maryland slipping into the NCAA Tournament is not an exoneration of Gary's recruiting any more than North Carolina's championship is an exoneration of Roy Williams bench coaching. Those are weak areas for both coaches regardless of their success.

As I said I think that Roy Williams is likely to win another title at North Carolina but even if he does I still don't think he is at the level of a Knight or Krzyzewski even if he matches them in titles. Would that make him better than Dean Smith? Is he already better than Rick Pitino because he has one more title? I'm sure there are many long time basketball writers who could name you at least a half dozen coaches who are better than Billy Donovan though they couldn't match his two titles. The sum of a coach isn't merely the number of titles that he has won.

North Carolina had a great team this season but given the hype that surrounded them going into the season, breathless articles wondering if they would go undefeated in the ACC, and the relatively smooth ride they had to get to a championship (they were the first champion since 2001 to not face a number one seed) I think they were a tad overrated. Perhaps everyone forgets those losses to Maryland and Boston College as you wrote but that is also why fools contend they were better than the 2005 UNC champions.