NCAA MEN’S BASKETBALL 2023

“Senor, Senor–can you tell me where we’re heading, Lincoln County or Armaggdeon ?”

—- “People get all caught up in the coaching and all that stuff. Its Dudes ! You’ve got to have players, and these Dudes put in the work !” Kansas State Coach, Jerome Tang.

—Soon ? Concealed carry in the game?

—Coach Boeheim–on St. John’s hiring of Rick Pitino : “He has coached forty years. That is not a lot of trouble for that long.”

BRACKETOLOGY BLUES

In 1952 I played on the elementary 6th grade basketball team. And every other year from 62 through 4 years of college play. I coached college basketball and was an adminstrator of college basketball . I saw Carolina beat Kansas in 1957. I ran the final four poll at Elon University until the NCAA stopped us. We had 30 coaches of various sports teams at Elon. I never won the poll. A coach never won. Always a Custodian or a student worker , etc. Our Senior secretary, Mrs. Doris Gilliam won twice. Once she picked Cleveland State’s win over Bobby Knight’s Indiana.

My only entry is now our 20 entry family poll. After 2 rounds I am Tied for 10th. Lennox, my 7 year old grandson is 2nd.

Charles Barkley would be tied for 12th in our poll.

Damar Hamlin, #3

Sixty years ! In the late 60’s the tackling technique called “spearing” emerged as the effective path. Soon a book and common sense produced the article below.

       FOOTBALL’S CROSSROADS

In the late 1960’s an orthopedic doctor, concerned about the health of his football playing sons, wrote his observations.  Dr. O. Charles Olsen’s book, “The Prevention of Football Injuries”, made note of the adverse and pronounced effects of “spearing” or head gear to chest tackling. While this technique was effective and caught on quickly, the number of deaths and severe injuries rose as a rapid level never before witnessed before in football.

Dr. Olsen concluded that energy equaled one half of the mass times velocity squared. (e=1/2m x v squared).  The bigger, stronger, faster players were creating a force that couldn’t withstand head gear to head gear, or head gear to knee contact.

The consolidation of schools eliminated many of the smaller players.  African American footballers were added to the talent pool, along with weight programs, better diets, and better coaching, and in many instances steroids.  Tremendous contact ensued.

And, while efforts have been made to control this violent hitting, football is at a crossroads.

The question of the long term effects of head contacts have forced the questions of (1) are we dealing with concussions properly,(2) are we legally liable if we turn our backs on the problem (3) are the linemen more vulnerable than we thought and  (4) can you “take the head out of football?” and on and on.  These questions have been around.  Perhaps no one has done more research than UNC Chapel Hill.  Dr. Carl Blyth and Dr. Fred Mueller have done yeoman’s work in an attempt to protect our young players.

This effort was begun a long time ago. Dr. Mueller still pursues the data (see “National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research”).

Pro football features a real “ballet” each game day.  The receivers and defensive backs are making plays that are at a new level of brilliance. Truly a work of physical, human art.  At the same time Olsen’s theory of force is hardly better exemplified than when a receiver crosses the field and is hit by a defensive back.  And, while a defensive back may be penalized for “head hunting”, he knows if he jars the ball loose, and or intimidates the receiver, his game rating goes up. While this risks tragic injury possibilities (his own included) is his job security a factor that urges him on?

The crossroads football faces include some other variables.  The more violent the hitting, the more the injury.  Yet the more violent the hitting the more market appeal the game experiences. Are we getting to the “gladiator” level of violence?

And while college and professional football are in the crosshairs of violence, perhaps high school footballers are even more vulnerable. And here is why: the weak and small and slow are eliminated at the college level.  But in many high schools small youngsters, who are very limited players, may face tremendous opponents that wouldn’t be admitted to college. These guys hitting the “canon fodder” can create catastrophe.  

“You can’t take the head out of football” might become you MUST take the head out of football.  How to do this is the crossroads question.  I fear the 2011 season will make this even more apparent.

“I would let my son play football, but I would not encourage him to play football.” James Michener, Sports In America 1976.

HEAD, HEAT, HEART –Still the dangerous ones.

FLY NOW AND PAY LATER

Gerald said, “…every now and then the cow eats the butcher!”

Football season is here! Actually it is “money game season”.

You whip us, but you pay us. Say what? Appalachian beats Texas A & M and walks with 1.5 mil! Boone Goons rock. Marshall screwed the system too. Stuff happens.

Still—-

How many over matched youngsters get hurt in these games? One player said “…our coach would give OUR lives for the school!”

A university’s website proclaims “Every thing we do is first for the good of our students.” Does this include students who play football?

And isn’t there more size and ability variation among 10th graders and high school seniors? 125 pounder vs 270 lbs.

*************

Also: Portals and Potholes and Proximity:

Was it Southern California that recruited twenty plus PORTAL footballers? Does that equate to that many legit freshmen who didn’t get that scholarship/ opportunity? How many times did this happen in all football programs combined? All sports? How many closed doors to the high school class of 2022?

North Carolina football 2022: We don’t need to play any more this year. We can’t beat East Carolina and NC State, or App vs the Tar Heels. Mountaineers over #6.

Makes one wonder about pacific coast teams in the Big Ten.

Radical ideal?–Carolina, State, Duke, Wake Forest, Appachian, and East Carolina all play each other? ps-UNC Charlotte will be ready soon. Western Carolina Univ. No flying required, football or women’s volleyball.

NEW WRINKLE, OLD GAME

November 6, 2019 I posted an article on gambling and tennis (see below). Less than 3 years later check what percentage of tennis channel advertising is gambling money.

One related item popped up in last week’s news. A tennis chair umpire was charged with illegal manipulating of the scoring device. Go figure!

Better get a toe hold on this.

***************

In 2017 my friend Chuck Kriese, former Clemson tennis coach, asked me to be a panelist at a meeting in Bradenton FL. to deal with the international issue. (I thought).   Coach Kriese has long been an ally on the international issue. There were ten people on the “panel” and I was asked to speak first (see notes). I did so attempting to gain support for tennis scholarships for Americans.

The second speaker startled me and others with his topic. Stripped down, it proposed to bring smaller satellite tournaments for college tennis in America. One panel member questioned where was the financing of these local tournaments coming from? Response: “we already have five million dollars in reserve.” Silence! Who is that sponsor was the question from the floor. I do not remember the name but another panelist replied “that is a gambling outfit in Europe isn’t it?” Yes was the answer. We all seemed a little stunned. And did not bring up the subject through the next several presentations.

As I exited the meeting Coach Kriese stopped me and asked “what do you think?” I was very frank with my friend –“Chuck this is an attempt to bring big time gambling to American College Tennis.” I was then no longer involved with this effort.

Concern for the game,  I reported this development to all involved in American tennis that I thought should be aware. Hardly anyone was aware of such a movement and I worried about overreacting and put my concern aside.

Still it nagged at me. How about the pro who revealed this scenario in the meeting: ”yes, one of my fifteen year old players asked me what to do about that man.”  Why?

“He stopped me on the way to the dressing room and offered me $1500.00 to lose the second set”.

One statistic said the volume of betting on tennis was second only to soccer in Europe.

The light comes on! With the ability to electronically report the current score of a tennis match worldwide was now technologically available to anyone as the official punched in the score. Anybody, tennis knowledgeable or not could place a bet on anything in the game. Second serve a double fault? Total number of games played per match?

Light #2. Gamblers get a 4% vigorish on any bet. The more bets the more 4% flows to management.

Voila. Where can you find the most number of tennis matches played in the world? Europe satellites? Nope. College tennis in America, no where close. Men & women, all divisions. How about Old Dominion’s number four girl against number four from William & Mary?

Will NC’s number two guy win the next point? 4% !

Today’s paper features an article entitled “New Series Seeks A Improved Pathway To Pro’s for US Tennis”.

Did I attend the beginnings of this current attempt? Is this really a “pathway to gambling”?

ORACLE is now the ITA (College Tennis) leading sponsor. All gamblers need now is that score recorder in a college referee’s hands. Worth watching this all develop?

SELF COACHING

My parents bought their first house in 1961. $13,000. They both lived to 93 years, the last seven in a nursing home. My one sister and I split only the sale of said house.

My first job included basketball coaching and that was when schools first integrated in our area. Our school didn’t have football or women’s varsity sports. Like most similar schools the first black kids we had were athletes, men’s basketball players. Most were the first in their eastern north carolina families to go to college.

The wtiting below comes from WHY TEACH AND COACH?:

********************

You never know who you’re influencing when you coach. The same was
true for teaching in college. Formal classroom or just talking to kids.
A basketball player named Damien Carter appeared in my doorway one
day at Elon. He said he rode up and down I-85 often and had planned to
stop by many times.
He was in his 40s, had been a pretty solid player at Atlantic Christian
College, having transferred from UNC-Wilmington. At Wilmington he
hadn’t played as much as he wanted. The same was true at ACC later on,
and he found his chances of pro ball weren’t going to materialize. He was
about to quit college though his grades were good.
I don’t remember the specific conversation with Damien, but it was one
of fifty I’d had with basketball players.
It went like this:
Are you the first from your family to go to college? Often the answer was
yes. You’re not going to make $100,000 playing pro ball, you understand?
You can get your degree and get a good job. People are looking for athletic
people with degrees.
Your job is to elevate your family and its expectations one generation.
Put your money in compound interest, and expect your children to go
to college.
I agreed with Damien that was the gist of what I advised the “first kids.”
Damien smiled and added, “Coach, my two daughters have college
degrees, and I’ve got a million bucks in the bank!” Compound interest.

***************

What I inherited from parents wasn’t material. Nor did I select a high paying job. We all valued education. Both of our son’s have done well. They have advanced our family a generation. And at age 82, and along with my wife, we may be able to help others. Even Warren Buffett limited his kids, reasoning it made it dangerous to give them too much.

I do feel good about the gifts a teacher /coach can give. Later in retirement I stumbled on “hobby writing” . Recently I have all the good advice I have free online. i have tried to “leave it all on the field (or court)”

SEISMIC 2

Repeating a comment from a personal article (PORTALS POTHOLES-Feb 2022)”

“For years football coaches have often recruited unhappy players from other teams. Or those who can legally transfer and play at a different school. The new NCAA “Portals Rule ” has jetstreamed this strategy. One of the sad side effects of “Portals ” is that high school seniors are overlooked for older and seasoned upperclass international college kids.

My guess is that this avenue will be adopted to American college tennis. And it will undoubtedly involve international players who can now easily move to “greener pastures”. American high school aspirants will be moved down the prospects list, or be dismissed even quicker”.

August 1, 2022

Sadly this appears spot on so far. One conversation I just had with a current NCAA Division 1 tennis coach began with his frustration with current recruiting over the reality that everyone knew everything about those in “the portal”.

Since 1970 the number of international college tennis players has grown steadily. Rosters of teams now often are 100% international.

“How about recruiting American high school seniors?” I asked.

Coach: “Not even on the radar.”

Where have you gone , Mrs. Robinson ?”

PREVENTING SPORTS INJURIES, NOW AND THEN

I was assigned to teach  a college course beginning in the fall of 1965: THE PREVENTION OF INJURIES TO ATHLETES.  And once a semester through 1985.   I served as a trainer to my own teams and many others for forty years,  learning as I went.  

There were milestones in my self education.  My core discovery was Dr. Don O’Donoghue and his book on the same topic.  It for decades was the Bible  of Sports Medicine.   Head, heat and heart issues (big problems).  The Louisiana heel  lock for ankles,  CPR, spearing and football.

I began before under wrap.  Shaved their legs above the knee to practice taping knees.  Had the class ugly leg contest for shaved  male legs.  No telling how many ankles I taped.  Discovered Elastoplast.   Still carry band aids in my wallet, but mostly for grandchildren now.

When I spied ON ANY GIVEN MONDAY by Dr.  James Andrews I compared some content with O’Donoghue.   One of the best discoveries of an old teacher is the confirmation that what you taught holds up over time.  Much of this “new” book has origins from the last century.

This new book should be read in total.  I have “cherry picked” some comments and summarized  some information I found interesting:  

*50 % of all sports are related to overuse.  60% are preventable by common sense”.   

*Youth sports injuries cost  2.5 to 3 billion dollars annually.”

*Odds of a football player making a pro roster are 6,000 to 1.”

*27%  of all insurance monies for sports injuries are for cheerleading.  While 57% goes for football, there are ten times as many football players.”

*Serious injuries?  Knees-30%, Ankles-12.3 %, Shoulders-10.9 %.”

*Preparation is 90% of execution.”

  • “Every team should have a trainer.”
  • There is a fine line between beneficial training and that that is ultimately detrimental.”

*MYTH:  No pain no gain.”  Young ones don’t need to hurt big time.

*During the 26 years between1982 and2008, there have been 72 catastrophic injuries reported in cheerleading, with two deaths. Gymnastics, which incorporates many of the same tumbling passes and boasts similar numbers of participants , had a total number of nine catastrophic injuries during the same period.  That is a pretty drastic difference.  Clearly, something needs to be done to protect cheerleaders from increasingly common and increasingly serious injuries.  Football, too, deserves a critical examination.  In 2007 there were 920,000 players under the age of eighteen treated in emergency rooms for injuries.”

  • Dr. Andrews cites parents looking for an agent for  a tennis playing child, age 6.

PARENTING

Recently I saw the Will Smith portrayal of Mr. Williams and family.  Below are articles iI have written, the first in 2007:

KING RICHARD 2007 (from PLAY IS WHERE LIFE IS)

Another factor in American tennis can’t be overlooked. The role of parents. Connors (mother ), McEnroe (father), Evert (father), Aggassi (father, brother), and the Williams’ sisters, are ample proof that the tremendous role of parents in the development of Championship level American players. 

Mr. Williams certainly gets the award for “out of the box” results. To train one child to be #1 in the world is amazing, but #1 and #2 at the same time is un- precedented. And done without normal routes of American Junior play and USTA super-support says a lot. I have to say I was disappointed by the way the Williams sisters were often treated by many in American tennis. 

*********

FEB. 2022

Being a tennis teacher/coach,  the film’s depiction of how this happened was both interesting and historical.    Much theory about tennis has evolved in the last fifty years.  Mr. Williams taught himself from this explosion.   Pronation of the wrist when serving,  open stance forehands,  maximum number of hits and drilling, throwing the racket in service motion, ball can serve targets, etc.

The names of Braden, Macci. many players, country clubs to ghetto,  spot on.

Many have noted tennis at high level is like fighting with rackets  rather than gloves.  How the trainers brought along young boxers was a common part of understanding that losing (particularly singularly ) is tough.  The choice to skip junior tournaments was maybe the most important and unique choice made.  

There was a more important lesson made in the film and in reality.  A bigger lesson.  Richard Williams showed the route to success in American tennis.  Families are our best teachers and coaches and academies.  No one cares like good parents.

Whatever sport , or whether sports, parental leadership works best.

 The Williams family taught a big lesson.  Richards’ father ran from danger.  When Venus was in her darkest moment he ran to her (‘ I have never been more proud of you”).

He risked his life.  He gave his life.  Give him credit.

*********

Patrick Mouratoglon,  Serena Williams’ tennis coach, said it.  The commentators missed a great chance.  Was the USTA listening closely?  His point about Co Co Gault’s win over Venus Williams was, here is another example of where great American tennis players have come from, then and now.  What better example could you want:  From Richard Williams and Venus and Serena, to 2019 Wimbledon and Co Co and her parents.   The Bryan brothers and their dad,  Isner and his mom, all the  way back to Chris Evert and her father.  Connors and mom.  McEnroe/Father.  No one gives their attention to a child like  parents.   There were five American men entered in the 2019 French Open.  Tiafoe, at #32, was the only seeded American male.  Taylor  Fritz won a first round match.  The rest lost.

For the umpteenth time,  all entities sincerely interested in developing quality American tennis players, should demand a reasonable slice of college tennis scholarships for American students.  Parents need help, a carrot at the end.

Former college tennis players
Jack Kramer, Arthur Ashe, Stan Smith, John McEnroe, Bob and Mike Bryant, Jim Courier, Brad Gilbert, Bill Tilden, Roscoe Tanner, Jimmy Connors, Dennis Ralston, Dick Stockton, Vitas Gerulaitis, Michael Chang, Malavai Washington, Todd Martin, Bob Lutz, Bill Talbert, Tony Trabert,, Vince Spadea, John Isner, Steve Johnson, MANY MORE.