This is an article from the March 30, 2009 issue
COLLEGE HOOPS ANALYST
The General moved to the ESPN studio after retiring from coaching in February 2008.
Dan Patrick: With your players, was it ever important to be a Number 1 seed?
Bob Knight: No. Sometimes the mentality of kids is, We're the Number 1 seed, so we should go all the way. Sometimes that affects your thinking on how to get there.
DP: Did you practice differently during the NCAA tournament?
BK: You don't practice very much, even [before] the championship game. In '87 we played a very, very tough semifinal with Las Vegas on Saturday afternoon. We were very tired, so all day Sunday and Monday we did almost no work at all. I don't think we ran a single step. That was by far the most important ingredient in enabling us to stay with Syracuse in the championship game.
DP: What was the name of the play that won that game?
BK: The name of the play was "Daryl Thomas made a great pass." We didn't have any plays. We played on recognition. Syracuse missed a free throw, and we were down by a point with about 28 seconds to go. One of the best compliments I ever got as a coach was from Curt Gowdy—one of my alltime favorite people—telling me as I walked off the court, "You're the only coach in the history of basketball who wouldn't have taken a timeout there." And the reason I didn't is because we knew we had to get the ball to Steve Alford. But Syracuse did a really good job on him. We got the ball into Daryl inside, and he made a little fake and knew right where Keith Smart was and hit him with a perfect pass. And that's the picture I have up at home, the ball leaving Daryl's hand on the way to Keith.
DP: Do you have fun calling games, being part of the media?
BK: I have fun calling games. I don't consider myself part of the media. I look at myself as a basketball consultant.
DP: Will you ever wear a tie?
BK: No. I don't even know if I have one. I was teaching Hubert Davis how to tie a half-Windsor knot the other day. But it had been so long since I tied one that it took me about 30 minutes to get it all figured out. Neckties and I have not even met in passing in the last many years.
PHIL JACKSON recently complained that his Lakers lacked killer instinct. Jerry West disagreed, telling me, "Phil sometimes complains when they win by 25. That's his nature." We then discussed whether it was inevitable that an NBA player have the occasional off night. When I suggested the league was a grind, the Logo said, "The NBA? It's as easy as ever. We used to have to play three nights in a row, six nights in seven days. I have to laugh when I hear coaches today say that. I just wish they could have played in the Stone Ages."
Out of the Pool
ONE PERSON who's not filling out an NCAA bracket this year is UCLA football coach Rick Neuheisel. Makes sense: He was fired from his last head coaching job, at Washington, for participating in—and winning more than $12,000 in—an office pool. Neuheisel has a good sense of humor about it. He assured me that the only brackets in his house are "the ones that put our bikes on the back of the car." And when I asked him how he feels about pools, he channeled Caddyshack's Ty Webb: "Pools, ponds—ponds are good for me."
THE HIGHLIGHT of the first Friends of Dan NCAA tournament pool: A perfect 16--0 on Day One from, of all people, Adam Sandler. So how did the Sand Man do it? Did he pore over stats and tendencies and matchups? Nope. Watch film? Nah. He picked Syracuse, for instance, because, he said, "I wore the shirt in Big Daddy." He has the Orange going all the way to the Final Four, which might not be a bad pick. But another one of his regional champs didn't make it past the first round: Boston College. Sandler said he picked the Eagles because "I wanted to show respect to Boston. I grew up around there and they hate me so much for being a Yankees fan. I wanted to do something nice for them."
THE FINE PRINT: Billy Packer is having trouble adjusting to retirement. He spent the first round of the NCAAs criticizing the rotation of his microwave.
Go to DANPATRICK.COM for more from Bob Knight, and hear live audio of Dan's radio show, 9 a.m. to noon.