Every Friday I will give my thoughts on the game I love, college basketball.
Selection Sunday is almost here and chairman Tom O'Connor and his committee have as tough a job as I have seen since seeding began. There are so many bubble teams, and the process was made even harder when San Diego won the WCC, plus South Alabama and Virginia Commonwealth fell short of automatic bids. Filling those 34 at-large slots will be challenging, but I know the group of dedicated people working on this will do a great job. There will always be one or two schools complaining when they get left out. I still feel we have the greatest three weeks in sports with the big dance the way it is now.
Great to see North Carolina will be retiring Tyler Hansbrough's jersey. In my 29 years of broadcasting for ESPN, he may be the hardest worker I have seen. He battles for the ball and gives 110 percent on every play. Hansbrough plays with so much intensity and he has so much pride, enjoying every moment in that Tar Heel jersey.
Championship Week always brings us surprise heroes. Think about Western Kentucky's Jeremy Evans. He entered the Sun Belt finals averaging just over five points per game. He scored 20 as the Hilltoppers advanced to the NCAA tournament with a win over Middle Tennessee State. Then there is Oral Roberts' Moses Ehambe. After getting a goose egg in the Summit League semifinals, he put up 25 big points in the finals victory over IUPUI.
It is nice to see Lute Olson returning to the sidelines at Arizona next season. It is great news to hear that the Hall of Famer is coming back. I'm happy to hear his health situation has worked out. Kevin O'Neill should be given a chance to remain on the Arizona staff with the long-term goal of eventually replacing Olson. O'Neill is an outstanding teacher who eats, drinks and sleeps basketball.
I was surprised by the news out of Missouri State. The school fired Barry Hinson despite a 169-117 record. Twice the school posted RPI ratings in the top 40s yet fell short of the big dance. It is a shame that a winning coach did not retain his job. That just shows how job security for coaches is lacking.
Think about the success enjoyed down at Memphis by Coach John Calipari. He has accomplished an amazing feat, winning 30 or more games in three straight years (33-4 in 2005-06 and 2006-07, 31-1 this year). He is only the second coach in NCAA history to post those numbers. The other was Kentucky's Adolph Rupp, who did it in 1946-47 (34-3), 1947-48 (36-3) and 1948-49 (32-2). Calipari was named as a finalist for the Naismith Cpach of the Year award, along with Drake's Keno Davis, Purdue's Matt Painter and Bruce Pearl of Tennessee.
I want to wish the best to Miami-Ohio coach Charlie Coles, who was forced to miss the latter portion of the season due to health reasons. Jermaine Henderson served as the interim head coach in Coles' absence.
It is interesting to see how some coaches and players use placement on all-league teams as motivation come tournament time. Just look at the A-10. Xavier, the conference's top team, did not have a player picked on the A-10 first team, leaving several players upset. Charlotte coach Bobby Lutz was disappointed that guard Leemire Goldwire was only a third-team selection.
Do you think coaches in the WCC are happy that the conference tournament will be in Las Vegas next year? San Diego took advantage of the opportunity as host and beat St, Mary's and Gonzaga en route to the league championship and the automatic bid.
Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in December 1979. Send him a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.