Why Calipari to the NBA makes so much sense.

John Calipari has become one of the most recognizable coaches in college basketball.  Bringing the Kentucky Wildcats storied program back to the prestige it was held. Calipari revolutionized the one and done rule to the point that other coaches were forced to adjust their mentality to compete.

Calipari is kind of a turd. He’s cocky, loud, conceded and a winner.  These traits, are the traits of a coach that can make it in the league now.  His confidence makes him relatable to players.  He has the confidence that is the way society is, most recently shown by the comments of the “GOAT” Lebron James.

Let’s look at the potential for Cal in the NBA.  The Washington Wizards will most likely move on from Scott Brooks at the end of the season.  Why not make a call to coach Cal and see if he would be interested in working with his old buddy John Wall again? Wall has shown immaturity throughout his career, but he has a respect for his old college coach. If the Wizards are committed to making it work with Wall bringing in a coach of his choosing like Calipari would be a smart move. They can move Bradley Beal for a mid-level player and clear some cap space for impending free agent DeMarcus Cousins in 2019 or potentially wait for the big piece in two years with Anthony Davis. Both former Calipari guys and both would show interest in matching up with their former coach.

Let’s not act like bringing Calipari to the LA Lakers wouldn’t be completely crazy.  Luke Walton has not made himself indispensable.  Adding Cal would work to help them recruiting Anthony Davis as well as make huge headlines for an organization

Ok, maybe that idea is farfetched.  Why would those guys want to go to Washington?  Well why would Paul George stay in Oklahoma?  Why did Lebron go back to Cleveland?  What is the deal with Kawhi Leonard?  There are a lot of things that are hard to explain, the NBA continuously has players, coaches and teams that make questionable decisions.  Is it so crazy to think that these players aren’t drawn to Calipari and his loose style and demeanor?

Why would Calipari leave Kentucky?  Being one of the most successful college coaches of my generation is no joke.  He was able to take UMass and Memphis to heights that they have never been.  Now he is at one the most prestigious universities of all time.  The reason he may leave is that the one and done rule is on its way out.  New developmental leagues are going to attract players that want to make money instead of spending a year being forced to go to classes that they do not care about.  This change will have an impact on the way Calipari has been building his teams.

While the changes in the NCAA can have an impact, I think it is the past failures in the NBA that will drive Calipari to the NBA.  During his time in New Jersey he was the definition of inconsistency finishing with a career record of 72-112.  This has to sit in his mind.  His personality will drive him to make an impact in the NBA before he calls it quits.  If Calipari was going to the NBA it should happen now.

Jayson Tatum- Make Basketball Great Again in the STL

The last time the city of St. Louis had a professional basketball team was in 1976.  The ABA’s St. Louis Spirits did not make it into the NBA when the two leagues merged.  As the Spirits left so did the spirit of professional basketball in the Gateway City.  It is time for the city to recapture its passion for the sport by watching one of its native sons emerge on the grandest stage professional basketball has to show.

Celtics GM Danny Ainge made a controversial move when he traded away the #1 overall pick to the 76ers. Washinton’s Markelle Fultz was looked at as the can’t miss star of the draft.  His length and athleticism was thought to be elite on all levels.  Ainge took the gamble moving down to draft Duke Freshman  and St. Louis native Jayson Tatum. Jayson Tatum has emerged as an underrated rookie star for the Boston Celtics. If you are not sure who Jayson Tatum is, he is the guy  from the Imo’s commercials.

While flashier rookies  like Ben Simmons and Donovan Mitchell have been getting the headlines Tatum has quietly brought his team to the verge of the the Eastern Conference finals. Tatum, a graduate of Chaminade Preparatory School in Creve Coeur, Missouri, has given St. Louis sports fans a reason to watch the NBA playoffs.  With key stars, Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward going do with season ending injuries Tatum was forced to take a more prominent role on a team that finished  with the #2 seed in the Eastern Conference. His scoring and defense have transitioned perfectly into the professional level.  Unlike most lottery draft picks Tatum has not been forced to be the savior of the organization.  Instead he was put in a position that allowed him to play a role, he was able to develop throughout rather then burden himself with the weight of the organization.  The regular season went well for Tatum averaging 13.9 PPG, 5 RB, shooting 43% from three and an astounding 53% shooting overall.  Tatum’s production has been taken to the next level for the Celtics in the playoffs.

In Game 1 of the second round series against the third seed Philadelphia 76ers, Tatum had a career-high 28 points in a 117–101 win, becoming the first Celtics rookie to score 25 or more points in a playoff game since Larry Bird (Maybe you have heard of him) during the 1980 NBA Playoffs, also against the 76ers. Tatum continued his strong play in Game 2 of the series scoring 21 points, those points would be the fourth game in a row Tatum reached the 20 point mark, making him the youngest player ever to accomplish that surpassing a guy by the name of Kobe Bryant (Maybe you have heard of him).  Brad Stevens has been called the best coach in the NBA for his ability to develop players, having them exceed expectations by putting them in a place the helps them excel.  The best example of the Stevens approach has been the production of Jayson Tatum.

St. Louis has had its fair share of NBA talent over the last few years.  Players like Larry Hughes, Darius Miles, and Bradley Beal have made an impact at the NBA level but Tatum is showing that he may end up being the best of the bunch.  He goes about his business quietly and professionally.  He plays in a major market and will be put in the spotlight as he develops and he will develop under the leadership of Brad Stevens.  Next season the Celtics may be the favorite in the Eastern Conference when their injured stars return but for now Tatum is the guy leading the charge of the dynamic Boston offense.  Tatum is the star that the St. Louis fan base needs, giving the fanbase a player and a team to follow.

Tatum is becoming the face of St. Louis basketball.

 

 

Sweet 16 picks: Part 1

11 Loyola Chicago Ramblers vs. 7 Nevada Wolfpack (-1.5)

Cinderella rules the South region of the NCAA tournament, where Loyola-Chicago will take on Nevada in a Sweet 16 matchup Thursday night in Atlanta.

The Ramblers and Sister Jean have stolen the hearts of the viewing public.  An under estimated, in my opinion and under seeded Rambler squad play grind it out team basketball.  They have multiple players that can beat you on any night.  Mo Valley player of the year Clayton Custer runs the offense to perfection, moving the ball to find the defenses weakness.  They have been supremely efficient in their first two games, shooting 47 percent vs a stout Miami defense and an even more astounding 50 percent against a battle tested Tennessee squad.

Nevada pulled off one of the most amazing comebacks in NCAA tournament history overcoming a 22 point deficit to defeat the Cincinnati Bearcats Sunday night. They had similar sharp shooting in their two games thus far defeated two solid defenses to get to this matchup.

Both teams have played at an elite level the first two round of this tournament, right now the line sits at a slight edge in favor of the Wolfpack.  I believe most money will be going with the Ramblers as we inch closer to the tip.  The Ramblers have not played a team with this kind of offensive firepower.  Cody and Caleb Martin will be a tough matchup, I look for Nevada to speed up the pace and take down the Ramblers.  Sorry Sister Jean it’s over.

 Nevada -1.5

South Region: The Wildcat Region

The #1 overall seed, the #1 NBA prospect in the NCAA, the #1 team in the American Conference and the #1 team in the SEC (tied with Auburn in regular season).   The South region of the 2018 NCAA tournament has some real hard nosed competition.  I Talk Sports and That’s It contributor talked with me about the highlights of these region.  Let’s break it down!!

First Round Upsets to watch: Wright State over Tennessee, Loyola- Chicago over Miami

Potential Bracket Buster: Loyola- Chicago

Loyola-Chicago, champions of the Missouri Valley, come into the tournament with a lot of confidence. The Ramblers play a ball control and efficient style.  MO Valley player of the year Clayton Custer leads a team with multiple long range threats, while freshman Center Cameron Krutwig plays at a 5 star recruit level. Miami can sometimes have problems scoring, this matchup favors Loyola.  If they get by Miami , most likely Tennessee will be waiting, another matchup that can be favorable for the Ramblers.  Remember this team took down Florida this year, they are not afraid of the big boys.

Most Intriguing Potential Matchup: Kentucky vs Arizona

If the south plays out a we all hope a potential Wildcat matchup could be the highlight of the first week of action.  John Calipari seems to be pushing the right buttons of late for Kentucky as they impressively took care of business in the loaded SEC tournament.  Arizona has the scandals behind them, while also featuring the hottest player in the Country right now Deandre Ayton. The future lottery pick led his team through the PAC12 tournament without breaking a sweat.  NCAA fans coaches and multiple agents would really enjoy this matchup.  A game of great talent and great controversy, but damn it will be fun.  Keep your fingers crossed we get to see this.

Bracket Winner: Arizona Wildcats

The selection committee made it clear, if you are being investigated by the FBI we are going to make excuses why you don’t belong.  Arizona got a 4th seed,  most would argue that they really were more of a 2 or 3 seed.  Arizona, has the best player in the country and is loaded with talent at multiple positions.  Virginia is a great team but Arizona has so much size and athleticism, its is going to be tough to matchup.  Virginia will breeze into this matchup but they do not possess the scoring necessary to stick with Alonzo Trier and Deandre Ayton.  The PAC12 Champs toughest matchup will be Kentucky, but we believe Kentucky will be tested big time by Davidson.  Deandre Ayton will dominate this bracket.

 

 

 

 

Time has come to Fire Paul Lusk

In 2010-11 Missouri State University was able to win its first and only Missouri Valley Championship behind Cuonzo Martin’s leadership.  I was at JQH Arena storming the court as we took down the mighty Creighton Blue Jays and their star Doug McDermott on ESPN2.  The Bears fell short of making the NCAA tournament despite an RPI of 44, Martin was able to transition his success to a job at the University of Tennessee, then University of California, finally ending up at his current position as Head Coach of University of Missouri. With Martin gone, Missouri State hired Purdue Assistant Paul Lusk, at the time a hiring made sense as Lusk came from a similar coaching tree as Cuonzo Martin.  The results however have not been as favorable.

Paul Lusk entered the 2011-2012 season with lofty expectations as the Missouri Valley Player of the Year, Kyle Weems was returning for a senior season.  The team did not live up to expectations finishing a feeble 15-16, highlighted only by their victory over 21 ranked Creighton.  It was understandable that a first year head coach can have struggles out of the gate, but the struggles continued.  Entering the 2012-2013 season Lusk had begun to rebuild his team, a roster of six incoming freshman and one returning senior made the Bears the youngest team in the Missouri Valley Conference.  The Bears played like a young team, taking until December 30th to get their first Division 1 victory.

In Lusk’s third year at the helm, he lead the Bears to a 20-13 record and an invitation to the CIT (losing in the first round).  That highlighted Lusk’s coaching career as over the next three season the Bears finished middle of the pack in the Missouri Valley.

As Missouri State entered the 2017-2018 season hopes were high.  Missouri Valley’s last powerhouse team Wichita State had moved on to the American Conference, leaving the door open for the conference title.  The Bears entered the season as the preseason favorites, winning their first game against a strong Western Kentucky team, beginning the season 15-3 (3-0 MVC).  They then proceeded to take major steps in the wrong direction, finishing the season tied for 7th place.  This marked the first time in the history of the Missouri Valley Conference that the team picked to win the conference in the preseason finished any lower then 5th place.

Lusk’s inability to even live up to the most modest of expectations has to be the final straw at Missouri State.  Blessed with a roster that includes the only real NBA prospect in the Missouri Valley, forward Alize Johnson, he was unable to build around this superior athlete.  Lusk will enter the Missouri Valley tournament on Thursday against Valparaiso, if this is anything less then a blowout, it has to be the final straw.  As Missouri State continues to grow, exceeding previous years enrollment every year for the last three years, the sports programs have to grow with the university.  Missouri State has made a commitment to improving itself it is time to stop settling in it’s athletic programs.  Lusk’s time in Springfield has to come to an end unless he can make a miracle happen and get this team to play to it’s preseason expectations over a week in St. Louis.  Missouri State is not Mizzou, the alumni and the fans understand that but 7 years with a combined record of 88-106 shouldn’t be acceptable.  The time has come to fire Paul Lusk.