Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Dominic James Rant

According to the Chicago Tribune, Marquette guard Jerel McNeal will not play in the first round game against Michigan St. Before you put Michigan St. in the 2nd round, remember that Marquette beat Pittsburgh at home even without McNeal. The loss of McNeal still hurts Marquette, not so much their scoring, but more their defense as McNeal was 8th in Pomeroy's steal rating. (Pomeroy has a number for everything.) Thats a key loss because of Michigan St.'s tendency to cough up the ball. It really puts pressue on Dominic James to play well. James should be up for the game as he wanted to play in the Big Ten before receiving an offer to Marquette.

Speaking of Dominic James (and since I'm struggling to find original commentary on the brackets today), I post the Dominic James rant. This was written by Indiana fan Loren Smith:

"First I'd like to say that what Kelvin Sampson has done with this year's Hoosiers is nothing less than astounding. Mike Davis left the cupboard pretty bare, and to be honest, Sampson didn't bring in many quality players to restock the shelves in his first year. Yet, Sampson still got the max out of what he had. However, no one has ever claimed that Sampson is not proficient at the X's and O's, and if his work at Oklahoma is any indication, we can expect Sampson to get the most out of the team every year. The question will be, what kind of teams will Sampson put on the floor? Like it or not, recruiting is over half of the job for a division-one college basketball coach. Would anyone be willing to say that Roy Williams, Billy Donovan, and Coach K are better tactical coaches than Kelvin Sampson or Bobby Knight? Probably not. But RW, BD, and MK are certainly, currently, better coaches overall. It seems that Oklahoma was several times one or two players short of winning a title with Sampson at the helm. Will the same hold true at IU? I think Hoosier fans are expecting nothing less than a return to national prominence, and to do so, Sampson is going to have to step up his recruiting game. The Indiana lore is not what it once was, but I think it can be returned quickly if Sampson can recruit well early. In my opinion, what Sampson has to do to successfully recruit at IU:

1) Recruit Indiana! If Sampson can once again get all of the top players from his home state, he will be a recruiting and coaching success. What would Indiana have been in the last Decade or so if Knight and Davis had been successful recruiting Indiana? Starting with Eric Montrose, Indiana has lost several major talents to other major programs in the last 10-15 years. This has to stop. The recent tide has really hurt the hearts of IU fans. Could you imagine the Hoosiers with McRoberts, Oden, and Conley? Even Dominic James would be nice.

Dominic James is really a bur under my saddle. Unlike McRoberts, Oden, and Conley, James didn't turn down the Hoosiers, Davis opted for Cincinnati's Deonta Vaughn instead -- great work Mike!! I think his rationale was something like "Dominic James is too small to play in the Big Ten" or something like that. Now every time James has 20 points to go with 7 assists, and carries Marquette to victory, I have to live withwhat could have been.

Sampson is off to a decent start after stealing...err...recruiting Eric Gordon - potentially the best guard tocome to Indiana since Isaiah. However, he did get his butt kicked recruiting in northern Indiana by Matt Painter and Indiana's stepchild Purdue.

2) Steal Illinois's top recruit every year - just kidding!"

Thanks Loren! I actually disagree with most of what you said, but I'm an Illini fans so that makes sense. Yes, I actually think Coach K and Roy Williams are good tactical coaches.

More importantly, I disagree about what Kelvin Sampson has to do to bring Indiana back to glory. I think Sampson knows how to recruit and will be able to capitalize on Indiana's tradition. When he left Oklahoma, he had some of the best recruiting classes in the country (questionable practices aside.)

Instead, I think the key for Sampson will be to develop his talented players for the post-season. With the exception of 2002, the last 6 tournament appearances were mostly disappointing for Oklahoma fans:

2006: 6 Oklahoma upset by 11 Wisconsin-Milwuakee in 1st Round
2005: 3 Oklahoma upset by 6 Utah in 2nd Round
2003: 1 Oklahoma upset by 3 Syracuse in Regional Final
2002: Lost in Final Four, great season
2001: 4 Oklahoma upset by 13 Indiana St. in 1st Round
2000: 3 Oklahoma upset by 6 Purdue in 2nd Round

Sampson can start things off on the right foot by avoiding an opening round loss to Gonzaga. (By the way, while looking this up, I discovered that there was already a web site called Geez, these people don't wait long.)

Finally, Congratulations to Niagara!