A little more stressful of a start for KU than I had hoped, but a W is a W. And perhaps their early struggles last night will get them focused in on Northern Iowa.
Now for a post that’s been sitting in the drafts folder all week.
I’m getting to be old enough that I can start pining for the good old days. Of course, it’s weird to think that to my generation the good old days took place in the 1980s. Were they really that long ago?
Anyway, Joe Posnanski has a fine piece in Sports Illustrated last week about KU and Bill Self. This quote stuck out for me:
When Bill Self recruits a player to Kansas, any player, he begins by putting into perspective what basketball means at the school. He will say, “Look, I am never going to be the greatest coach at Kansas. And you are never going to be the greatest player. So we might as well get that straight right off the bat.”
That’s a nice way of Self putting the history of KU into perspective for recruits who probably don’t know much about it beyond Mario Chalmers and putting himself into their same position. “You might think you’re the shit, but we’re both going to be footnotes to something bigger than us.”
It also made me kind of sad. What coach can tell a hotshot recruit that he’s going to be the best player to ever play at his school? Unless we’re talking about a John Wall-type talent shocking the world and going to a mid-major, it’s not possible anymore. The truly elite talents aren’t going to spend more than a year on a college campus, in most cases. Even if they spend two, that’s rarely enough to make an impact on the history of a big time basketball school.*
(Of course this opens a whole argument about how you pick the greatest player. In KU’s case, is it Wilt Chamberlain, who only spent two years in Lawrence but redefined the game and was an unparalleled physical force, or Danny Manning, who spent four years, won a championship, and finished his career at the top of just about every list in the KU record books?)
There are going to be plenty of Sherron Collinses or Tyler Hansbroughs; excellent players who because of circumstance or size spend four years in college and firmly stamp their names in the history books. But Sherron, as great as he is, will never be in the discussion for Greatest KU Player. He might get some votes, hell he might even be a top five player, but he’s not going to the top of the list.* Tyler might have finished his career at the top of many of the UNC statistical charts, but we all know he’s not in the same class as Jordan, Worthy, etc.
(OK, my list of greatest KU players ever? 1. Manning 2. Wilt 3. Paul Pierce 4. Clyde Lovellette 5. Nick Collison with Sherron’s status pending the end of his career.*)
Then again, maybe that’s a good thing. Don’t Sherron and Tyler represent more of what college basketball is supposed to be about than the players who use college as a pit stop on the way to the pros? Guys who learned to truly love the school they played for because of four years spent on the campus and in the uniform. Sherron, for example, might not be a rocket scientist*, but he’s going to get a degree. That’s more than you can say about a lot of the guys who make the early jump.
OK, I take it all back.
(“Ain’t no seats!”)