Each week I will write about the sport I love, college basketball:
• Who would have believed that Dallas and Phoenix, after making big deals to acquire Jason Kidd and Shaq, respectively, would be out in the first round of the playoffs? The whole idea of getting those two guys was to win it all, getting that gold trophy. It cost Avery Johnson his job and Mike D'Antoni may be the next to go. That's why the coaches make the mega-dollars in the pros. My friends, it is so wacky because you are only as good as your last game. It doesn't matter the resume you have built up. You can be coach of the year one season, and be fired the next one! Johnson and D'Antoni get blamed for the failures but people seem to forget about their tremendous successes. I guess that's why sideline bosses in the pros make so much more money than college coaches, except for a few, like Coach K.
• David Stern, who has done a brilliant job marketing the NBA, could not have been too thrilled with Josh Howard's recent comments. The Dallas Maverick forward recently made remarks about his own marijuana use during the offseason. Howard also claimed that most NBA players smoked pot. Are you serious? What a role model and example for kids out there. This all happened at a great time, during the NBA playoffs, when the spotlight should be on the competition and not on a crazy story like this. That's some example for young players too. Mark Cuban will probably jump on Howard for the timing and poor judgment. I knew Josh a little bit at Wake Forest and I did not think he was in that mold of person. Players forget that youngsters keep an eye on everything the pros do, hoping to be like them someday.
• I honestly believe Pat Riley is not done coaching. I also feel Bob Knight will be back on the sidelines someday as well. You just can't get the coaching and teaching gene out of these guys! Somewhere down the line both guys will be back on the sidelines. Eventually they will be overwhelmed by that competitive drive. The high that you get as a coach when you are winning is something special. You don't get that same unbelievable high in the world of radio and TV.
• Stan Van Gundy should have Billy Donovan on his Christmas card list! He should be sending thank you notes to Billy the Kid since Donovan decided to stay at Florida and give up his potential position with the Orlando Magic. 'Thank you Billy for letting me get the job in Orlando!' Dwight Howard is a tremendous player to build around as we have seen early on in the playoffs.
• Larry Brown started his career down in Carolina with the ABA's Cougars. Now he is coming back to the sidelines, taking over a young and talented Bobcats squad. He will finish his career there and it was a great choice. This is a team that has some good young talent and needs discipline. I don't feel that today's players care about Brown's history of jumping from team to team. I believe these guys go out and play and don't care about the resume. Well, they do care that he is a Hall of Famer with great credibility.
• It was a busy week for the Hansbrough family. First, Tyler Hansbrough decided to return to college for his senior season. That was a move that thrilled everyone down in Chapel Hill, especially Roy Williams. Then brother Ben Hansbrough announced his decision to attend Notre Dame. Ben averaged 10.5 point per game and started 28 games at Mississippi State this year as a sophomore. He had previously announced plans to leave Starkville.
• Another player who announced a transfer was 6-foot-8 Chace Stanback of UCLA. In this case, playing time was an issue. Stanback appeared in 25 games for the Bruins last season, but averaged less than six minutes per contest. It is often about the PT (playing time) when kids opt to go elsewhere. Florida State's Julian Vaughn recently decided to transfer out of the Tallahassee-based school as well.
• Wow, the field for the Old Spice Classic in Orlando in late November is really solid. Think about Tennessee with Tyler Smith, Michigan State with Raymar Morgan and Kalin Lucas, Gonzaga with Josh Heytvelt. Georgetown will have diaper dandy Greg Monroe on display. Siena surprised Vanderbilt in the 2008 NCAA tournament. Maryland and future Hall of Famer Gary Williams is in the field as well. So is Oklahoma State and new coach Travis Ford. Wichita State figures to be improved under coach Gregg Marshall. This should be a great basketball event around Thanksgiving time.
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.