|2 college students get to ask questions of college basketball's top coaches|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 21 December 2007 09:19|
Andrew Hemminger and Dave Bensch, friends since high school who were looking for a special project to cap their college careers, did just that and turned it into a book, ``Destination Basketball.''
Without a big-time budget, they took real ``road trips'' to meet and ask five to 10 questions of the likes of Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Calhoun, Jim Boeheim, Roy Williams, Rick Pitino, Lute Olson, Tom Izzo, John Chaney and John Wooden.
The questions were not about one game, player or play, but rather about philosophies, influences and experiences that molded their careers.
Twenty-eight current and former coaches were interviewed and each segment includes a story about the trip from Oak Harbor, Ohio, to get to the meeting. For the answers you can read the book or contact the authors at www.destinationbasketball.com.
The tables were turned on Hemminger and Bensch and they were asked five questions about the 15-month project:
-What was the toughest trip? ``No doubt it was getting to Texas Tech,'' Bensch said. ``Fourteen-hundred miles each way, 22 hours in the car and then we didn't get a chance to speak with Bob Knight. So we drove all day to eat in a Wendy's, stay in a motel and watch a basketball game and then had to drive back.''
-Who was the toughest coach to get in contact with? ``Coach K and Billy Donovan because of how busy their schedules are,'' Hemminger said. ``Coach K is just involved in so much with USA Basketball and Donovan was coming off a second straight national championship so it was tough for him to find time.''
-Who was the biggest surprise after meeting them? ``John Beilein, Bill Self and Rick Pitino all stick out for how open they were and how they spent time with us,'' Bensch said. ``But meeting and spending time with John Wooden was just a privilege.''
-Is there anybody you regret not scheduling? ``We knew going in no matter how long we made the list somebody would be upset with someone we left off,'' Bensch said. ``We had no regrets when we started and none now.''
-Who had the nicest office? ``We didn't see everyone in their office but of the ones we did I would have to say Roy Williams,'' Hemminger said. ``It was just so classy with nice wood and the Carolina blue and the pictures on the wall were so good he gave us a tour of them.''
WOODEN RULES: Even at 97, John Wooden has opinions on today's college basketball, a very different version than was played when he coached UCLA to a record 10 national championships in the 1960s and '70s.
``If the officials would call the game according to the rules, it would be better,'' he said recently. ``If they'd call traveling, if they'd call carrying the ball, if they'd call moving screens, it would be better.''
Wooden has long been vocal about his dislike of dunking, which virtually assures players of making televised highlight reels.
``The process of turning around, going behind the back and making all the turns and windmills, I don't like that at all,'' he said. ``It's a better game without it.''
Wooden recalled a few years ago when a UCLA player intercepted a crosscourt pass and was out ahead of everyone on a fast break.
``Instead of jumping up and dropping the ball in the basket or in off the board, he made a 360, slammed it down and the crowd went wild,'' he said.
``Somebody tapped me on the back and said, `What did you think of that, coach? I said, ``I'd have had him out of there before he hit the floor.'''
KEATING'S TRANSITION: Kerry Keating has the tough task of taking over a Santa Clara program that was run by Dick Davey for the past 15 seasons. If that's a daunting responsibility for a 36-year-old rookie head coach, he sure isn't showing it.
The ever-animated Keating will bounce up and down or even kick the scorer's table near his bench to get his team's attention or to make a point about playing hard on every possession for 40 minutes. That's a far different look on the sideline than Davey exhibited during his argyle sweater days at Santa Clara.
Keating isn't sure whether his approach is working, saying he doesn't have that ``full, complete trust yet'' from his team. But he's getting there.
``I'm trying to do something to get them to play harder and show them how hard they have to play,'' said Keating, who served as assistant at UCLA for the last four seasons and was part of the Bruins' back-to-back runs to the Final Four in 2006-07.
``I sure appreciate their effort. We're asking them to do a lot more, and we are giving a lot more. ... It's going to be a learning process the entire season. Certainly these guys have done a nice job adapting. We have won five road games and that puts us in position to have a good season.''
DRAKE'S DAVIS: Keno Davis followed his father as coach at Drake and to say his start has been good is an understatement.
The Bulldogs' 9-1 start matches the best in school history with the last time being 1979-80.
It also concludes a second straight win over Iowa, but the 56-51 victory last week snapped a 20-game losing streak in Iowa City, a run dating to 1967, and made the all-time series 53-9 in favor of the Big Ten school.
As the clock was winding down, the 250 or so Drake students in attendance started chanting ``Bulldog State'' and ``We own this state,'' a reference to the 79-44 victory over Iowa State on Dec. 5 that gave Drake an eight-game winning streak over in-state opponents.
``Winning the four in-state games was important for our program,'' Davis said, ``but I think most people that watched the games thought it was kind of a blip on the radar - they got lucky, it was going to happen eventually because they hadn't won for 30 or 40 years.
``I think coming back and playing well gives a little validation to the progress of our program.''
A lot has changed for Drake in Tom Davis' last season and Keno Davis' first.
``It's a special win, especially because it's my last year, the last time I'm playing here, last time playing them and that's just the way you want to go out,'' senior forward Klayton Korver said. ``But the mind-set is different now. I think last year was special because we finally won. I don't want to be cocky or anything, but we go into games expecting to win.''
Korver is the younger brother of Kyle Korver, a two-time Missouri Valley Conference player of the year at Creighton who now plays for the Philadelphia 76ers, and the older brother of Kaleb Korver, a freshman reserve at Creighton.
FRESH FROSH: Freshmen have been the talk of the season so far but one conference is taking the influx of new players to a higher level.
Four of the top nine scorers in the West Coast Conference are freshmen: Tyrone Shelley of Pepperdine (16.2 points), Patty Mills of Saint Mary's (15.5), Malcolm Thomas of Pepperdine (14.5) and Myron Strong of San Francisco (13.4).
The league's top two rebounders are freshmen: Luke Sikma of Portland (9.3) and Thomas (9.1).
There are at least two freshmen among the top six in field goal percentage, assists, free throw percentage and blocked shots, and half of the top eight in steals are freshmen.
Three of the WCC's top freshmen have famous fathers. Austin Daye of Gonzaga is the son of Darren Daye, a member of UCLA's freshman-laden team that reached the Final Four in 1980. Sikma's father was longtime Seattle SuperSonics center Jack Sikma. Mychel Thompson is the son of former Los Angeles Lakers standout Mychal Thompson.
Sports Writers Beth Harris in Los Angeles and Janie McCauley in San Francisco contributed to this report