Blog Entry

Dear Gary (on coaches who recruit for a system)

Posted on: September 26, 2008 12:23 pm

Here's Friday Dear Gary ...

Dear Gary: First off, let me say thanks for providing the most offseason coverage of college basketball that anyone could ask for. Also, I have a question: Bo Ryan always seems to do a fantastic job with a very small number of legitimately high-level recruits, and from what I've heard he really only goes after players that fit the Wisconsin system. ... Are there any other major conference coaches who recruit mid-level players like Ryan and manage any sort of success, or is Bo unique?

-- Sam

First, thanks for your first sentence.

That's nice.

A first sentence like that will pretty much get any question answered. So all you emailers should keep that in mind, that I'm a sucker for nice words. As for Bo Ryan, yes, he's unique. But he's still signed his share of high-level recruits over the years -- guys like Brian Butch (ranked 11th in the Class of 2004), Greg Stiemsma (ranked 31st in the Class of 2004), Joe Krabbenhoft (ranked 35th in the Class of 2005) and Jason Bohannon (ranked 42nd in the Class of 2006). So while Ryan does consistently overachieve given the level of natural ability in the Wisconsin program, it must also be noted that he usually has some Top 50-caliber prospects at his disposal.

John Beilein, not so much.

I think that's the name that best answers your question.

I'm not sure Beilein has ever had a Top 50 prospect, but he's done OK for himself. He went to the Elite Eight and compiled a 104-60 record in five seasons at West Virginia before leaving for Michigan, where there is no evidence that his recruiting philosophy has been greatly altered. And though I've vowed to never doubt Beilein because he's proved me wrong too many times, I will say that searching for "diamonds in the rough" who fit a particular system is not the way to compete for national titles in this era of college basketball.

Isn't that the goal at Michigan, to compete for national titles?

If so, I'm not sure that can be done with under-the-radar prospects because a team needs at least three NBA players to win a national title, or at least that's what recent history suggests. Don't believe me, checkout the last five NCAA tournament champions ...

2008: Kansas (Brandon Rush, Darrell Arthur, Mario Chalmers)
2007: Florida (Joakim Noah, Al Horford, Corey Brewer)
2006: Florida (Joakim Noah, Al Horford, Corey Brewer)
2005: North Carolina (Marvin Williams, Sean May, Raymond Felton)
2004: Connecticut (Emeka Okafor, Ben Gordon, Josh Boone)

So clearly, competing for national titles requires NBA-caliber professionals, and I'm not sure Beilein deals in those enough. That's the concern. But make no mistake, the man is a tremendous instructor. And if any high-major coach deserves the benefit of the doubt, Beilein is probably that guy.


Since: Jan 6, 2009
Posted on: February 17, 2009 12:20 am

Dear Gary (on coaches who recruit for a system)

If they had a poll for the dirtiest, nastiest fairly decent teams in the nation, I'd give Bo & his BAD JERKS a Number 1 vote! I've seen some bad ones over the years getting away with GARBAGE that others don't get away with, but THIS WHISKEY team is a top contender for all times. And I've seen it against many teams, not just my lowly Hawkeyes [who by the way won in O.T. against that little snot nosed cheating Bohannon kid who "hails" from Iowa---his daddy sucked at QB on our '82 Rose Bowl team, too!]. This little jerk got away with elbowing Palmer all night in Iowa City & FINALLY got called for ONE foul LATE in the game. Krabenoft is a good player, but pretty dirty himself. All you have to do to see this is WATCH!!! I've seen them get away with "murder" against many other teams---not just IOWA! It would make my day to see little Bone-Handler get laid out on the floor by someone who gets tired of his CHEATING ways!-----Turkiniowa  Yell-"Next year Hawkeyes will be better w/o cheating like UW!

Since: Feb 13, 2007
Posted on: September 29, 2008 9:27 pm

Dear Gary (on coaches who recruit for a system)

Technically, Florida had five (Noah, Horford, Brewer, Green and Richard) and North Carolina had four (Williams, May, Felton and McCants).

Technically, Brewer shouldn't be in the NBA. He's not good enough.

Since: Feb 8, 2007
Posted on: September 29, 2008 12:24 pm

Dear Gary (on coaches who recruit for a system)

I struggle with the exact number because in 2003 (which I avoided, as you might've noticed) Syracuse did it with two pros (Carmelo Anthony and Hakim Warrick). Of course, you could argue that Carmelo was so good he should count as two pros by himself. But either way, that year presents a problem (which is why I started in 2004).

And then last year, I think we can all agree that Memphis could've (and probably should've, given the circumstances) won the title, and I'm not sure there were more than three pros on that roster. Rose, Douglas-Roberts, Dorsey and who else? I'm not sure Dozier, Anderson or Taggart will make it, though they could. So for that reason I'll stick with three and see if the streak can continue this year.

Since: Aug 29, 2006
Posted on: September 29, 2008 2:26 am

Dear Gary (on coaches who recruit for a system)

Maybe you should change your premise to 4...  All those teams had at least 4.    3 is just underkill  :).

Since: Sep 28, 2008
Posted on: September 28, 2008 6:26 pm

Dear Gary (on coaches who recruit for a system)

I understand now.  I'd forgotten about the other Florida players drafted.  I agree fully with your premise that you need 3 NBA caliper players, and suggest a team is even more likely to win with one or two more bench NBA'ers. 

Thanks for the reply.

Since: Feb 8, 2007
Posted on: September 28, 2008 12:18 pm

Dear Gary (on coaches who recruit for a system)

Because my premise is "three NBA-caliber pros" I only listed three guys from each team.

Technically, Florida had five (Noah, Horford, Brewer, Green and Richard) and North Carolina had four (Williams, May, Felton and McCants). But my point was that three is what's required. So I listed three from each off the top of my head while well aware that Kansas had four.

By the way, look at last season's Final Four.

Kansas: Rush, Chalmers, Arthur and Jackson were drafted.
Memphis: Rose, Douglas-Roberts and Dorsey were drafted (and Dozier or Anderson could be considered pros in the future).
UCLA: Love, Mbah a Moute and Westbrook were drafted (and Collison will be a pro, as could Shipp).
North Carolina: Nobody from the team entered the draft (but Hansbrough, Ellington and Lawson are all future pros, and Thompson and Green could be).

That was a lot of talent in San Antonio, and it demonstrates my point that you can be a very good college basketball team with good chemistry, coaching, etc., but if you want to compete for it all you must have NBA players.

Since: Sep 28, 2008
Posted on: September 28, 2008 11:56 am

Dear Gary (on coaches who recruit for a system)

I'm pretty sure that if you look on Cleveland's roster you'll find Darnell Jackson - that would give KU 4 NBA players.  Who knows if he'll stick around long, or head to the NBDL, but he was drafted by an NBA team and should be included in your list.

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