Plenty of news coming out of Indiana, so let's jump right in:
Let's be clear: Kelvin Sampson's job is now in serious danger, and Indiana faces a tough decision at a time when the Hoosiers have the talent to win a national title.
The big question all along has been whether the NCAA would deem the violations committed by Sampson and his staff to be "major" or "secondary," and now we know that the NCAA is in fact alleging that five
Just 23 months ago, in his first Indiana press conference, Sampson promised the mistakes his staff made at Oklahoma -- 577 improper phone calls --wouldn't happen again. According to the NCAA, not only has it happened again, but the NCAA is alleging Sampson repeatedly lied to investigators representing both Indiana and the NCAA. In the NCAA's letter to Indiana obtained by the
"Concerning Sampson's provision of false or misleading information, Sampson repeatedly provided the institution [Indiana] and the [NCAA] enforcement staff false information regarding his involvement in violations of the Committee on Infractions' recruiting restrictions. [NCAA Bylaw 10.1-(d)]."
If Sampson is ruled to have committed major (and not just secondary) violations, I can't imagine a scenario in which he would keep his job.
The question now becomes: How does Indiana respond? The No. 13 Hoosiers are 20-3 and a serious contender to reach the Final Four. Does the university want to take any action now -- like firing Sampson or ruling itself ineligible for this season's NCAA tournament -- in an effort to head off potentially more severe punishments by the NCAA? Or should Indiana wait until it's required to respond to the NCAA allegations after the season is over?
Keep in mind, it's a virtual certainty that Indiana's two best players -- senior
On Wednesday morning, Indiana athletic director
Whatever Greenspan ends up deciding, I sure wouldn't want to be in his shoes right now. Or Sampson's, for that matter.
I'd planned to lead off this week's 'Bag with the back story for my feature in this week's
The high-octane DDM attack, developed by
From the moment I started working on the story in early January, I wanted to portray it as the biography of an idea, exploring how a basketball innovation happens and then spreads, sometimes to the detriment (and against the wishes) of the innovator himself. In the end, the story led me down all sorts of unexpected paths and taught me several new things about today's game.
Here are a few things worth pondering:
• At the same time that Walberg is receiving more professional respect than ever before (from all the coaches around the country running his stuff), he's also going through the most difficult moment of his 30-year coaching career. I first interviewed Walberg in his office at Pepperdine on Jan. 9. On Jan. 18 he abruptly resigned, citing personal reasons. I knew Pepperdine wasn't winning many games, but I had no idea that the situation was bad enough for Walberg to resign midway through his second season.
The SI story takes a closer look at what was going on in Malibu, but it's safe to say that the near-cult of high-school and small-college coaches using Walberg's stuff was crushed by Walberg's decision. By their lights, Walberg was one of them -- a high-school and juco grinder who'd made it big.
• I loved talking to Memphis coach
• The sub-culture of high-school coaches who pursued the Walberg offense and defense absolutely floored me. Walberg and Calipari have held clinics for more than 400 coaches at a time, but they have been unwilling to reveal all their secrets in any instructional videos. Yet
"The Internet has made it a small world," says Jordan. "Herb is a good guy and was obsessed with finding out more" about what Walberg called the AASAA system (for attack-attack-skip-attack-attack).
Back when Walberg was at Fresno City College, Jordan would drive six hours nearly every week to scout Walberg's games and practices, and he would also attend every clinic Walberg held. "In one clinic you'd never get that much," he explains. "You'd have to go to this and that and put together meticulous notes and save them. He'd throw out terminology that wouldn't make any sense to you unless you'd been to something maybe five months previously. Then you'd be like, 'Oh, that's what that means.' It would really fill in a lot of holes for me and Herb."
Welling, a 45-year-old security guard by day, not only used the offense to help lead Omaha Central to the last two Nebraska state titles, but he passed it along to his pal Bob Hurley at St. Anthony. And that wasn't all.
• Welling also made two Dribble-Drive Motion instructional videos for Sysko's, one of the nation's top instructional video retailers. And if you could believe it, Welling's video is Sysko's top seller over the past 12 months, exceeding the sales for videos by
• Welling argues that basketball coaches share information far less than football coaches. He pointed out one underground Web site, fastandfuriousfootball.com, that has reams of inside information on trendy pigskin systems -- from
• One of my favorite parts of this story was communicating with more than 200 coaches about their fascination with Walberg's brainchild. (SI reporter
I can't tell you how many times I said "I love coaches" to myself while reporting this story. I got dozens of long e-mails from coaches who couldn't stop talking about it (often in all-caps). Here's a small selection:
"MY KIDS LOVE PLAYING IT."
"I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THAT ALL COACHES USE WALBERG'S PRINCIPLES OF DRIVING AND KICKING IN WHATEVER OFFENSE THAT THEY ARE RUNNING. GETTING TO THE BASKET, UNDER CONTROL, IS THE NAME OF THE GAME."
• There were a few teams running the Walberg stuff (or elements of it) that came in too late to be included in the magazine map this week:
Sherwood, Ark., Sylvan Hills High, boys'; Cypress, Texas., Cypress Springs High, boys'; Houston, Texas., Klein Forest High, boys'; Medford, Wisc., Medford High, boys'; St. Francis, Wisc., St. Francis High, girls'
In a season in which every top team has apparent flaws, I've come around to the idea that Duke is a genuine national-title contender despite having no real presence in the post. Would this Duke team have had all sorts of problems with, say, last year's Florida team (with
Of course, but those Gators aren't around anymore. The team that would be the toughest matchup for Duke this season is probably inside-heavy Kansas, but Texas (another spread-offense team that's only slightly beefier than Duke) showed you can beat the Jayhawks as long as you make smart decisions, defend well and get decent contributions from your bigger players.
What's most intriguing about Duke is that the Blue Devils have won all but one game despite giving up double-doubles to a crazy number of opposing posts: UNC's
What can we conclude from that? As long as Duke continues its lockdown defense on the perimeter, its inside weakness may not matter that much. And believe me, these Devils can defend. Case in point: On the same possession against Boston College, 6-8
Good questions. I don't think Knight's players were served well by Knight's decision to resign in midseason, just as I don't think the in-season coaching changes that have been so common this year (Pepperdine, San Francisco, Oregon State, LSU, etc.) were good for the players on those teams.
As for whether Texas Tech is any better off having hired Knight, that's a question that will ultimately be determined by how well
I thought the Boilermakers would make a run for the Big Ten title ... in 2009. But what's happening right now in West Lafayette is something special: a young team under the impossibly young-looking
If you're asking about turnarounds, I'd have to put Maryland in Purdue's class -- and maybe even slightly above the Boilers, since nobody expected the Terps would have hiccups like losing at home to Ohio and American. We'll see what happens between Maryland and Duke on Wednesday night, but
If you've been reading here much, you know that we don't get too caught up in the "Which is the best conference?" debate. But I do think it's a sign of the Pac-10's depth that a team near the bottom of the league standings can take down a national-title contender. The Huskies needed a win like that, too. It's probably the result of
Any team that hopes to have a shot against Memphis will have to have multiple quick, skilled guards who can handle the Tigers' defensive pressure -- it was instructive to see how the Tigers completely neutralized Gonzaga's
A lot of it depends on whether a player can stay aggressive despite being in foul trouble. I'm surprised that more coaches don't do what Kansas State's
Also, no coach wants to be seen as a redux of
Got me, but that's an interesting nugget. Any readers have an example?
As for Tubby Smith at Minnesota, you have to call his first season an unqualified success to this point. The Gophers are 15-8 and 5-6 in the Big Ten, and the general attitude around the team has changed for the better. Marshall's first season at Wichita State has been underwhelming, as the Shockers (10-14) have gone 3-10 in a down year for the Missouri Valley. But having seen what Marshall was able to build at Winthrop, I think he clearly deserves the chance to do the same thing in Wichita.
Short answer: No. Neither Illinois State nor Creighton has a good enough non-conference résumé to rate consideration for an at-large bid. While we're on the topic, how crazy is it that Drake is four games ahead of the field in the Valley race? All due respect to 'Bag pal
Got some interesting response to last week's discussion about the lack of women coaching men's college basketball teams:
Realistically, I do think the main challenge for a female coach in men's basketball would be recruiting. But what I find troubling is that colleges are supposed to be places where ideas aren't all in lock-step with each other. Call me crazy, but I honestly don't think it would be that big of a risk for a men's team to hire
It's not hard at all, Jamie, if you make it a priority and you love good movies. It probably helps that there are no kids at 'Bag Central, and we have a first-rate new movie theater just five minutes away here in Baltimore.
• I'm taking nominations from readers for the nation's most notorious/envelope-pushing student fan group. Any new details of exploits from this season would be much appreciated.
• If Texas' big guys (
• Were my eyes deceiving me, or did Marquette's
• The over-the-top chest bump by Illinois'
• Intriguing sight: In Gonzaga's overtime loss at St. Mary's last week, the Zags had freshmen
• We can't tell you how fired up we are for Tennessee at Memphis on Feb. 23.
See you next week.