As I see it, Division 1 basketball programs fall into 4 categories:
1) The Elites (Duke, North Caroline, Kansas, etc.)
2) The Contenders (A continually changing subset, currently comprising teams like Butler and Baylor)
3) The Bottom Feeders (That’s us, folks)
4) The Mid-Majors (UNI, for example)
Like it or not, college basketball is semi-Pro. The payment may be in the form of scholarships and it may be in the form of other (less legal) compensations. There is no draft for High School talent. The Elites get the pick of the best player and always will. It’s not fair, but it is what it is.
Becoming an Elite team is so difficult that it might as well be considered an impossibility. The best all other teams can hope for is the stars to line up and have a string of 6 over-achieving games in March (See Butler of 2010). Barring that, the Champion will most likely be an Elite team. To put it in a cooking metaphor; take two equal chefs, give one lobster and the other round steak. Most of the time (think “always”), the chef that had the lobster for the ingredient will have the best dish. College basketball is no different.
Well, not really, in the case of college basketball, the input (the players) has choice (behavior). And this is where the coaching aspect takes over.
Since the line of prospects is long for the Elites, their coaches can dictate how the players will act. If they don’t, fine, go find another team and see if they put up with your behavior. So the Elites end up with both talent AND discipline.
The Contenders want to occasionally beat the Elite, so they MUST chose between those players that are left. By this point, all of the well behaved talented players are gone. What are left are the talented OR the behaved. Well behaved, so-so talented players do not beat well behaved AND talented players, period. So, to stay in the “Contenders” category, teams must choose the talented but not well behaved.
That’s the plan. If you are in the bottom-feeder category, you MUST sacrifice behavior for talent!
The last pool of teams, the Mid-Majors, are slightly different. These are the kids that either want a small school, decent education. Or they are the kids that the Contenders and Bottom Feeders passed on. If these kids still want scholarships, they must do what the schools of last chance tell them. That is, the MUST behave. That’s why coaches out of the Mid-majors are not the best for the Big 6 conferences. They have become accustom to kids that behave. But these kids don’t move you up to the “Contenders.”
So, alas, this is where ISU and McDoormat are. We have a former Mid-Major coach that became accustom to well behaved kids. When he asks that of players in a Bottom Feeder class team, they walk. They go to another Bottom Feeder or Contender team that will allow them to misbehave.
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