Blog Entry

Dear Gary (on the Bob Knight column)

Posted on: February 3, 2009 3:22 pm
 

Here's Tuesday's Dear Gary ...

Dear Gary: Bob knight was never a good recruiter and he won at Texas Tech and Indiana. But there is only a few that can match his coaching. You usually are right on, but you are off on this one.

-- Marc

I've received some version of this email a dozen times today, all from people who are missing the point.

So let me try again.

Yes, Bob Knight is a great "coach" in terms of actual coaching. I put that right in the column multiple times. But the reality of high-major college basketball in the year 2009 is that simply being a great coach isn't good enough. Great coaches win league titles and average coaches win league titles. Happens every season. But the one thing all conference champions have in common are great players relative to their league affiliation, meaning it's much more important in this era to hire a great recruiter at the high-major level, then worry about whether he can coach later.

To be clear, what Bob Knight did at Indiana was phenomenal.

I've written that many times.

But that happened in another era.

And though I keep hearing about how he "won" at Texas Tech, I'm having a hard time identifying what he won, exactly, because here's what I see when I look at Bob Knight's tenure at Texas Tech ...

2001–2002: 10–6 in the Big 12 (finished tied for third)
2002–2003: 6–10 in the Big 12 (finished tied for seventh)
2003–2004: 9–7 in the Big 12 (finished tied for fifth)
2004–2005: 10–6 in the Big 12 (finished fourth)
2005–2006: 6–10 in the Big 12 (finished tied for seventh)
2006–2007: 9–7 in the Big 12 (finished fifth)
2007–2008: 3–3 in the Big 12 (tied for sixth at time of resignation)

What the record shows is that Knight was barely better than .500 in the league, never finished better than third and on average finished a little worse than fifth in six-plus seasons. Why? Because he never recruited in a way that could make Texas Tech a player in the Big 12, and that's my point, that there's no reason to think he'd be able to consistently compete with Billy Donovan, Bruce Pearl and Billy Gillispie because there's no reason to think his roster would ever be comparable to the rosters of Florida, Tennessee and Kentucky.

But Knight can do more with less than anybody, Gary?

That's what some of you are thinking, I know.

And guess what? I agree with you.

But at Georgia the goal should not be to try to do more with less; it should be to do more with more, and that's why hiring a 68-year-old with no passion for recruiting would be a mistake, because it would ensure average rosters, and average rosters don't win SEC titles. Or Big 12 titles, as we've learned already.

Comments

Since: Nov 17, 2008
Posted on: February 5, 2009 11:35 am
 

Dear Gary (on the Bob Knight column)

If anybody can tell me a school in a power league that consistently competes for conference titles by primarily recruiting three-star (or below) prospects at Scout.com, I'll happily reconsider my position.

I am aware that he hasn't been there very long but Tony Bennett at WSU, fits your requirement for recruiting primarily 3 star recruits and competing for conferance titles, 2nd and 3rd place his 2 years as head coach.  We will see how this year turns out for him, but it is not looking good.




Since: Sep 17, 2006
Posted on: February 4, 2009 5:12 pm
 

Dear Gary (on the Bob Knight column)

Look at what Knight did at Tech with the players he had. Let's face it, Texas Tech was not a desirable place for a college basketball player earlier this decade. After the James Dickey scandal, Knight turned the program around. Georgia is not coming off a scandal, plays in a conference suffering a down year and is looking for someone to right the ship. Knight is a ship-righter, it's what he did for Texas Tech. By the time he gets the program back on his feet, he will be too old to continue. Georgia can bring in an Ernie Kent sort of guy, land recruits and sustain a position near the top of the SEC.

You made an implication that I don't understand how the game of basketball works because I think Bob Knight would help Georgia's basketball program. It's not the way I'm taking it. It's a fact.




Since: Feb 8, 2007
Posted on: February 4, 2009 8:04 am
 

Dear Gary (on the Bob Knight column)

If anybody can tell me a school in a power league that consistently competes for conference titles by primarily recruiting three-star (or below) prospects at Scout.com, I'll happily reconsider my position.

That's what I wrote.

Note, I didn't say four-star or below.

I said three-star and below.

And I did that purposely, because A) Knight has mostly recruited three-star and below prospects, and B) Bo Ryan has won Big Ten titles without getting five-star prospects, although he has landed plenty of four-star prospects. So again, if anybody can tell me a school in a power league that consistently competes for conference titles by primarily recruiting three-star (or below) prospects at Scout.com -- and Bo Ryan is not one of them -- I'll happily reconsider my position.

As for my comment about how the only people who think this is a good idea are Dick Vitale and those who don't understand how the game really works, well, you can take it however you like. You don't have to be a writer to understand how the game really works. I never wrote that. Plenty of fans understand the ins and outs of the sport. But either way, I meant what I wrote, exactly how I wrote it.




Since: Sep 17, 2006
Posted on: February 3, 2009 11:34 pm
 

Dear Gary (on the Bob Knight column)

There's a reason everybody in basketball circles (except Dick Vitale) thinks this is silly. It's because people who understand how the sport really works in this era...

I feel a little insulted by this post. It's as if you're telling me that I don't know what the hell I'm talking about. If you think that writing for a big time sports website gives you that right, please, reevaluate that decision. Or if you meant no harm and chose a misleading series of words, then that's fine. But there are some out there who don't have the name recognition you have that know plenty about college basketball. Again, if it was a poor choice of words, disregard this post.

 




Since: Sep 17, 2006
Posted on: February 3, 2009 11:28 pm
 

Dear Gary (on the Bob Knight column)

I don't think Wisconsin has gotten a 5-star recruit during Bo Ryan's tenure. Yet, they are always (aside from this year), in the Big Ten picture. All he does is harvest in state talent. If Bob Knight can do the same for Georgia, a much more desirable locale than Lubbock, Texas, he can have success at UGA. But hey, let's just agree to disagree.




Since: Feb 8, 2007
Posted on: February 3, 2009 11:16 pm
 

Dear Gary (on the Bob Knight column)

 

If anybody can tell me a school in a power league that consistently competes for confernence titles by primarily recruiting three-star (or below) prospects at Scout.com, I'll happily reconsider my position. But if you can't name one -- and trust me, you can't -- then you need to acknowledge that being a great coach isn't as important as being a great recruiter.

Do great recruits guarantee success?

Of course not.

But average recruits guarantee you can't have sustained success.

So if you believe that Bob Knight can't get anything but average recruits -- and that he'd get out-recruited every year by Billy Donovan, Bruce Pearl and Billy Gillispie -- then I don't see how you could back this idea. There's a reason everybody in basketball circles (except Dick Vitale) thinks this is silly. It's because people who understand how the sport really works in this era understand that it's impossible to consistently win in a power league with average recruits, and there's no reason to think Bob Knight would ever have anything but average recruits at Georgia.

Thus, it's a bad hire.

And that's why it won't happen.

And with that, I'm ready to move on.




Since: Sep 17, 2006
Posted on: February 3, 2009 10:46 pm
 

Dear Gary (on the Bob Knight column)

Georgia is a team that is expected to finish near or at the bottom of the SEC almost religiously. Bob Knight gives the school a "name" coach and an identity, something that has been missing. All of a sudden, Georgia basketball becomes relevant, maybe not in the national title scheme, but in the SEC. People can feel proud to sport Dawg gear late in February. And Gary, great recruiters who can't coach a lick don't equal success all the time. This year the SEC as a whole is playing no defense and turning the ball over a lot. Why not bring in someone who can preach discipline and tough defense? Why not be the one team in the whole conference that is going to play smart basketball? Why add another Gillispie or Stansbury to a conference with plenty of them? LSU brought in Trent Johnson this year, a good COACH from the Pac-10. It's no coincidence that LSU only turns it over 12 times a game and is leading the conference right now. Georgia may not make the leap to national prosperity during Knight's time as coach, but they will be better. Team basketball goes a long way.




Since: Apr 23, 2008
Posted on: February 3, 2009 7:17 pm
 

Dear Gary (on the Bob Knight column)

Bottom line, Bob Knight needs to get out of the game. He has had enough. Now is time for him to relax with his family.




Since: Dec 22, 2006
Posted on: February 3, 2009 7:07 pm
 

Dear Gary (on the Bob Knight column)

Gary, you can't compare recruiting at Texas Tech to recruiting at Georgia.  Texas Tech is in the middle of no-where and I'd have to say that if I'm a pretty good high school player n the Big 12 region, Texas Tech might be the least desirable school in the entire conference.  

Still though, I do agree Bob Knight wouldn't be a great hire.  There's limited upside in the hire, and you know that you're probably not getting more than 5 years out of him.




Since: Jan 3, 2008
Posted on: February 3, 2009 6:32 pm
 

Dear Gary (on the Bob Knight column)

For some reason today I keep using the word 'sell' today instead of 'sale'.

Make that 'sale' instead of 'sell'. Typos are killing me.

To follow up more on your article apparently you aren't the only journalist who thinks Knight + Georgia=disaster. Mark Bradley from the AJC agrees with you.



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