Mohamed Hachad for National POYWho's going to win the title? J.J. Redick or Adam Morrison? Each can make a strong claim. Both are richly deserving. It could come right down to the wire....I'm sorry--did you think I was talking about the Player of the Year Award? Merciful heavens, no. This is the National "My Coach Lets Me Take the Most Shots" Award.As you may have heard, Redick and Morrison are indeed 1-2 in the nation in scoring, averaging 28.9 and 28.8 points a game, respectively. Wow, 28 a game! What's not to tout!Gosh, 28 a game....Points per game, given Adam Morrison's number of shots1. Je'Kel Foster, Ohio State: 33.82. Jamar Smith, Illinois: 31.43. Jamar Butler, Ohio State: 30.54. Courtney Sims, Michigan: 30.55. Paul Davis, Michigan State: 30.36. Marshall Strickland, Indiana: 30.37. Ron Lewis, Ohio State: 29.88. Graham Brown, Michigan: 29.69. James Augustine, Illinois: 29.310. Vedran Vukusic, Northwestern: 28.911. Shannon Brown, Michigan State: 28.612. J.J. Sullinger, Ohio State: 28.413. Mohamed Hachad, Northwestern: 28.2That's right. Mohamed Hachad would also average 28 a game if he were given the same number of shots from the field and from the line as Adam Morrison. (All numbers derived from our trusty friend PPWS, of course.)Mind you, I have nothing against media sensations and in fact I've even said nice things about both Redick and Morrison. They're both outstanding players.But there can only be one National POY. And any talk of Morrison, in particular, for such an award is the most farcical of gooey prattle. Morrison himself freely admits his defensive shortcomings (I actually give him points for candor there). And he's fed shots in roughly the same manner that livestock are stuffed with feed.Put it this way. If Morrison ends up being named the National POY, I'm not going to be the one to break the news to Hachad.
In today's less Wonk-ish venues.... Surprising number of links for a Friday. Can't imagine why....What's not to Mike!Indiana coach Mike Davis formally announced his resignation yesterday, effective at the end of the season. "I just felt like it was time for this program to be united," Davis said at an afternoon press conference in Bloomington. At least two Hoosier players, D.J. White and Robert Vaden, have already indicated they may leave IU. "It would be tough for me to play (here)," White said. "Right now, I don't think I'm going to play." Added Vaden: "Coach Davis is my coach; he's the only reason I'm here. Hopefully, I can be with him wherever he goes." (Davis doesn't know where that will be: "West, South, stay in the Midwest, East. It doesn't matter....I definitely want to coach." Meanwhile Davis has already made an outstanding business decision: resigning promises to be much more remunerative for the coach than getting fired.)Indefatigable hoops savant Jeff Shelman says he'll miss Davis:Every Monday during the college basketball season, Big Ten coaches participate in a teleconference with reporters. Each coach comes on for 10 minutes and answers questions.
The unspoken No. 1 rule for reporters is simple: Don't be late. You never know what Indiana coach Mike Davis is going to say.ESPN.com contributor Jason Whitlock says racism was not--repeat, not--involved in this ouster:There's no reason to tiptoe around it, so I won't. Mike Davis' inevitable demise at Indiana University is not a product of my home state's inherent racism. No way.(And that's the opening paragraph. You've heard of burying the lede? Whitlock exhumes the jejune.)Indianapolis Star columnist Bob Kravitz, opining on the biggest story in Indiana basketball in five years from an Olympics no one is watching, says he's happy for Davis: "A coach at IU must win, and if he doesn't win, he needs the thickest skin in sports. Davis, a consummate good guy, never developed one, and by the end, he was a wounded soul." Chicago Tribune columnist Skip Myslenski says Davis "never had a chance," a fashionable meme this morning and one that totally baffles me. (For instance, see also Pat Forde at ESPN.com: "In some ways, Mike Davis never had a prayer.") Never had a chance? Funny. I thought he was there five years. And if Josh Smith hadn't gone to the NBA and D.J. White hadn't broken his foot twice in five weeks, believe me, Davis would have a chance, a prayer, and a lot more wins. Now ensues the talk about finding a new coach "with IU ties." Can I just ask one thing? How has this preoccupation arisen? Indiana enjoyed its greatest success with an Ohio State graduate as head coach. North Carolina enjoyed its greatest success with a Kansas graduate as head coach. UCLA enjoyed its greatest success with a Purdue graduate as head coach. Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim draws the obvious conclusion: "If you win, it doesn't matter if a Martian coaches your team."Nevertheless, the search is on for coaches with Hoosier connections. Now let's see, who could that be?....The early front-runner with IU fans appears to be some guy at Iowa named Steve Alford (who says he's focused on his Hawkeyes and winning a Big Ten title, etc.). At cbs.sportsline this morning, Gregg Doyel says: "Coaches everywhere believe this job is going to Iowa's Steve Alford."But Des Moines Register columnist Sean Keeler says Hoosier fans should be careful what they wish for: "What if [Alford's] first five years at Indiana are like his first five years in Iowa City? If Alford can't win, neither can the athletic director who has to cope with the inevitable fallout. I wouldn't want to be known for the rest of my tenure in Bloomington as the guy who canned Steve Alford." Meanwhile Iowa City Press-Citizen columnist Pat Harty salutes Alford's timing: remember last year? "A loss at Minnesota on Feb. 23 lowered Iowa's record to 4-9 in the Big Ten, and Alford's days as the Iowa coach seemed numbered." And fellow Press-Citizen columnist Ryan Suchomel wonders if cash will trump tradition: "Iowa is paying Alford more than what Mike Davis earns at Indiana. While IU may be drenched in tradition, the coffers are not overflowing with phat football money like they are here." At ESPN.com, Andy Katz says Alford's current contract poses no problem for a Steve-leaves scenario--Iowa didn't lock their coach in the way Illinois did when they hired former Purdue assistant Bruce Weber. (Hmmm. Or would Iowa AD Bob Bowlsby actually welcome Alford's departure? Bowlsby, the former AD at Northern Iowa, could then bring rising star Greg McDermott to Iowa City. Oh the possibilities!)Other Indiana-related candidates include Orlando Magic assistant Randy Wittman (whose son, Ryan Wittman, plays high school ball just down the road from the current Official Wonk Residence), Golden State assistant Keith Smart, and Atlanta Hawks coach Mike Woodson. Non-IU candidates (yes, they exist) are said to include: Marquette coach Tom Crean (whose name always surfaces for any Big Ten vacancy), Gonzaga coach Mark Few, Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl, Wake Forest coach Skip Prosser, Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings, and Ohio State coach Thad Matta (and bring Greg Oden along, too, say IU fans). (If Matta does bolt to Bloomington, one laudably creative commentator has suggested that the Buckeyes re-hire former coach Jim O'Brien. Since O'Brien won his wrongful termination lawsuit, the University may end up owing him $9.5 million anyway--might as well get some work out of him.) Long shots include Rick Majerus, Bob Knight, Pat Knight, Rick Pitino, and Bob Huggins. Mother of all long shots: a former assistant to Bob Knight.In today's relatively few non-Hoosier venues....Northwestern forward Vedran Vukusic says he'll be OK to play in tomorrow's game at Ohio State. Vukusic missed Wednesday night's game at Illinois due to lower back pain. "I’m expecting to play Saturday," Vukusic says.Iowa guard Carlton Reed has returned to the team. Reed sat out two games after being ticketed by Iowa City police on February 10 for driving with a suspended license.Michigan coach Tommy Amaker says he hasn't decided yet if Chris Hunter will start in tomorrow's game at Michigan State. (Amaker gave Hunter the start over Courtney Sims in Wednesday night's easy win over Minnesota in Ann Arbor.) Meanwhile Wolverine big man Brent Petway says he expects a boisterous reception from Spartan fans in the Breslin Center tomorrow. During the Spartans' game in Ann Arbor on January 25, Petway got the better of a collision with Mo Ager....Can the Wolverines win this game? The admirably succinct Jim Spadafore answers in this morning's Detroit News: "No."..."What's wrong with the Spartans?" is the question asked here. (Wonk has already offered his take on that topic.)Who are the best players in the Big Ten coming off the bench? Sagacious Spartan observer Dave Dye offers his top five here.Penn State needs two wins in their last four games to have a shot at the NIT.The weekend in Big Ten hoops--tomorrow!Michigan at Michigan State (ESPN, 4 ET)Iowa at MinnesotaNorthwestern at Ohio StatePenn State at PurdueThe weekend in Big Ten hoops--Sunday!Indiana at Illinois (CBS, 3:30 ET) BONUS all-Mike-Davis-aftershocks edition of Wonk back! Don't just mutter ineffectually; email me! The view from a rivalAlert reader, die-hard Purdue fan, and intrepid blogger Matt May weighs in on the events in Bloomington....Hi, Wonk,
Right on with your comments on Davis and the defense of the fans today, you have it exactly correct. I do not understand why many of the hoops pundit class are incapable of such a balanced perspective.
From this Boilermaker's vantage point, Indiana fans have largely been extraordinarily patient with Davis. Everyone knew the difficult position in which he was placed in 2000 and I think Davis was the Steve Fisher-like beneficiary of the 2002 run to the championship game. But his own actions and statements really hurt him and ginned up a lot of the frustration and demands to get him out of there. He publicly alienated Coverdale in favor of head-case Bracey Wright in 2003. He promised "help is on the way" but failed to do anything with the "help" he brought in. His actions beginning with the bizarre Iowa no-show and availability for the subsequent rounds of interviews was his career in microcosm.
Your point about last year's insanely difficult non-conference schedule is well-taken, but all Indiana had to do was win one game in the Big Ten tournament last season to get into the NCAA, and they couldn't do it. That was not too big a task and Davis and his "But we were the 4th seed" riff rightly infuriated IU fans. The beatdown administered by Vanderbilt at Assembly Hall in the NIT showed that Davis could not even rebound his club to the tune that Tommy Amaker did for Michigan after their snub and run to the NIT championship. If Davis thinks that Indiana fans gave him a hard time, he should have a chat with one Orlando Smith.
As a Purdue guy, I was hoping Davis would squeeze one more season out of the IU administration, if only to give Matt Painter even more time to solidify the already-strong relationship he has forged with Indiana high school coaches, a relationship that Knight largely owned and Davis frittered away. As it is, IU will get a marquee name/up-and-coming star and hopefully Purdue and Indiana games will once again be for the top of the table year-in and year-out.
MattThanks, Matt!The email so long it spawned its own blog Hey, Wonk,I was going to email you my take on the Davis firing but it turned into a long, long rant so I decided to spare your inbox. You can, however, check it out here.It's basically an emotional reaction because I had season tickets during IU's title game run under Davis and attended the Sweet 16 and Final Four. However, I would not say I am a Davis apologist. My email/blog concludes with the point that the administration really screwed this up--they should have fired Davis or backed him. By doing neither they set the program back a long way and wasted at least this year.Anyway, even though I didn't email it to you, I love the sound of my own voice too much to avoid calling your attention to my screed.Peace and happy wonking,Brent B.Wow, thanks, Brent! I can honestly say yours is the first blog ever created solely by Wonk back--cool!BONUS note to non-IU-focused Wonk backers! Lots of good stuff rolling in from you all: thoughts on Alando Tucker, on Michigan State's schedule, and on the always entertaining (and always inadvertently so) Seth Davis. We'll see what we can do to work them in on days when no coaches resign.