Brad Stevens is the most famous head basketball coach in D1 basketball who is not coaching for a NC or Duke or Kansas or Kentucky (sorry about that last use of profanity).
Over the last several years, he has taken the Butler Bulldogs to the final NCAA basketball game.
He has done this with talent that few recruited, while his fortunes in that regard have certainly changed.
He was on a program recently, I cannot remember which one, maybe 60 Minutes or something. The commentator asked him point blank how was he able to create a team from relatively unheralded recruits who challenged the best to make it to the top of the tournament. His answer was interesting.
We all know that even his first team had terrific players on it, so his response is all the more interesting. It is clear that Stevens knows how to coach up talent so that by year two of so, the kids are playing top flight basketball.
Anyway, he said and I paraphrase that to have a championship caliber team in D1 did not need Top 100 recruits.
He said it needed kids who were willing to work very hard and completely as a team for the team with a goal to win by minimizing mistakes and optimizing their collective strengths. I bet that if asked what is most valuable in a prospect, he would agree that it is 'teach-ability.'
Obviously I note this not to criticize the performance of K3. That man came into a broken system, depleted of quality players, bereft of a system, lacking fundamentals, demoralized and shaken by protracted coaching uncertainty with twisted loyalties. Add to that injuries and illness.
Most of us recognize that K3 has been given a sow's ear and asked to make us a silk purse.
As I noted last night to an ardent Ute fan who I have enjoyed Utah basketball with since the mid-1970s, this season is fascinating. It is fascinating because we get to witness as a study the evolution of development of a team that is missing all necessary parts. That is we really get to see how K3 teaches individuals, makes a team in the full sense of the concept, and installs a system that can work.
I know that Portland State was only 2-8. And I know the game was at home. I noted that the first half was different from the second. The Utes won. But the board today already is signing the change, that change is evident in individual players, notably Farr and Washburn, even Jiggy.
This year is still gonna suck if all we look at is the W-L column. But as I will argue here, its not the destination that is thrilling about this season, its the journey.
And that is fascinating indeed.
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