Hansen-Immel Debates, Part II: Hoops topics galore
Topic: Preseason College Basketball Projections, Part II
The "Hansen-Immel Debates" rage on here in Part II of our college basketball preview which is filled with predictions, projections and all kinds of off the wall information and arguments.
Take careful note of the debate over which programs across the country should be considered "Elite", and also our choices for Upset of the Year.
Immel: Part I of this debate took a lot out of me, Ben, I've got to be honest. The sounds of your overly positive attitude towards Arizona and some of its players, combined with your seemingly instinctual hatred of Billy Donovan and the Duke Blue Devils can only mean one thing; Arizona football sucks again, and you and the Wildcat nation are fiending for Saint Olson to give his minions words to live by for the next 5 months.
Hansen: Hahaha I love it, Immel! That was classic Dintzer right there. I can see you with your cigarette in one hand, single-malt scotch in the other and eyes looking down at your underlings and non-UCLAnsmen.
Immel: The wretched bunch. Poor bastards.
Hansen: Who, UCLA fans or Arizona football fans?
Hansen: The Gallup polls across the country had you winning last night's debate in a landslide so I've got some making up to do.
Immel: I wouldn't sweat it too much; I was calling everyone I knew to vote for me.
Hansen: As Old School Guns ‘N Roses blares out of my way-too-expensive desktop speakers, I say let’s get this thing rollin’.
*Question – Let's say a coaching vacancy opened up at one of America's "Elite" college basketball programs. Which man would you bring in for the first interview and why?
Immel: There is an abundance of young, talented coaches across the college basketball landscape, but to me, the two that stick out are Tom Crean of Marquette, with his creative sets and ability to make players believe in his system, and Paul Hewitt of Georgia Tech, for the trust he places in his players and their natural abilities, and the respect he receives from them in return for that gift.
Hansen: Funny you should mention Paul Hewitt, but that’s neither here nor there. I like Tom Crean for the reasons I stated on our Premium Hoops board the other day but I question his ability to overachieve with teams like the one he had last year post-Dwyane Wade. But what struck me about your answer is that you didn’t mention Ben Howland. Wasn’t it just recently that all UCLA fans were slobbering over this program builder who did so well at NAU and worked his magic at a moribund Pitt program? Is Dan Guerrero already applying the necessary pressure on Big Ben in Westwood?
Immel: I think with the new regime at UCLA coming in and cleaning house in the two biggest money making sports, the ego involved with placing a hand-picked selection in the stead of the old guard creates a scenario in which the recently appointed coaches will have at least three or four years to prove they can place UCLA back at the elite level. Ben Howland's job is still the toughest in America for a college coach, and there is a tremendous amount of pressure, especially now with the infusion of Internet recruiting services regarding his ability to go out and show fans of his program that he is getting the job done on the road with high schoolers. Many close to the program know who Howland's top targets are for his next class (2006), the most important to come into UCLA in 10 years, and if he does not deliver the players many expect him to, there certainly could be a backlash amongst loyal followers of the program.
Hansen: Fair enough, Imms. And just so I actually answer the question seriously I’d go with Billy Gillispie, the first-year head coach at Texas A&M who basically turned water into wine at UTEP of all places last season. If you make the Big Dance sans Tim Hardaway and/or George Banks in El Paso you should immediately be eligible for Hall of Fame induction. I give him exactly 27 months before he leaps from the stepping stone that is A&M basketball to a bigger, more prestigious program somewhere in the ACC or SEC (preferably Florida after Billy D gets canned).
*Question – Which coaches across the nation are overrated in your opinion and get too much credit for not doing much of anything worthwhile?
Immel: To be honest with you, I think Ben Howland right now would be considered an overrated coach until he shows me he can do something where its nearly impossible to lose.
Hansen: I’ll throw five names at you of the guys I think aren’t earning their paychecks but for some reason people still like them as coaches. One, Billy Donovan. Total clown with pretty hair. Biggest underachiever in the postseason since Lute circa 1995. Two, John Chaney. This guy is in the Hall of Fame why? Because he has a lot of wins in a terrible conference yet has never been to a single Final Four? No, because he’s crazy, colorful and a good quote so the eastern media loves him. Three, Ben Braun of Cal. Try consistency, Ben, that seems to work for the great ones. Four, Mike Kryzyzyzyzyewski. Can you be overrated when you go to 10 Final Fours and win three national titles? Oh hell yes, and K is. And finally, my fifth most overrated coach is Quin Snider at Missouri. What’s the latest Vegas over/under on him leading Mizzou to the Death Penalty for mass rules violations? It can’t be long now, can it?
Immel: I think Mike Davis rode Bob Knight’s players to a Final Four, but he hasn't really shown me anything since which would indicate that he's long for the position of head coach at IU. Hank Bibby actually had his name seriously thrown around for the Lakers vacancy this past spring, which just blows my mind. There have been some players at 'SC over the past couple of years which, surprisingly enough, I really liked. Sam Clancy, Brandon Granville, Errick Craven, and yes, even Des Farmer, who had as much heart, cojones, candor and vulnerability as any player I can remember in the Pac. Bibby took one team to an Elite Eight, which is great, but I think its pretty well known at this point that many of his players either don't understand him at all, or simply dislike him immensely, and hey, are you surprised? If you can't get along with your own kids at all, how do you expect to keep a bunch of egos together and focused on a common goal when you yourself are pulling power trips like they're going out of style.
In reference to your list, the only one I can agree with is Billy Donovan. His teams have talent, and do well in the regular season, but have traditionally choked pretty hardcore in the tourney. I like Quin Snyder; I think he's a really bright guy with a great future ahead of him. Ben Braun has nearly 500 coaching victories under his belt, and has been the head coach of successful programs for only four fewer years than Lute Olson has been around...he's doing something right. In terms of John Chaney and Coach K, I'm not even going to dignify those statements with a response.
Hansen: If I knew that was all it took to get you to not respond to what I write I’d do it more often!
Immel: That may be true, but I don't know how far you're going to make it in this business calling two absolute legends "overrated." I say heresy, apostasy, impiety, blasphemy...just plainly sinister!
Hansen: Shouldn’t you get to at least one Final Four in order to be referred to as a “Legend”? P.S. you aren’t doing yourself any favors by sounding like Don King, Johnnie Cochran or Mike Tyson with the big words.
*Question – A little earlier we talked about the coaches you'd interview for an opening at an Elite program, but which schools are in fact "Elite" by your definition? There obviously can't be too many.
Hansen: I think people overuse the term “Elite” when talking about college basketball’s hierarchy. In my mind there are only two programs that are worthy of inclusion into this elite fraternity of sorts and they are Duke and Kentucky. My reasoning is that truly “Elite” schools should never miss the NCAA tournament, always win 25-30 games per season, make multiple trips to the Final Four and capture more than one National Championship over a relatively recent timeframe. UConn would be in this group but it has missed the tourney three times in the last 15 years. Arizona and Kansas are probably right on the borderline, and North Carolina is getting back in the right direction.
Immel: To me, there are very few schools which have that aura about them, and the name on the front of the jersey let's you know you've entered a special situation on that given night. Carolina, Kentucky, UCLA, Indiana and Kansas are your traditional five powers in college basketball. Those schools have so much history, it doesn't matter from this point forth what happens because they'll always be good, and they'll always have opponents’ attention. Within the past 15 years or so, two other schools have come into the equation as possibly going down in history as 'elite level' schools, and they are Duke and Arizona. Despite Connecticut winning two titles in the last five years, it has not shown the consistency for a long enough stretch of time to be rewarded with that title in my view. And the Huskies would have to show dominance and an ability to be a perennial top 10 team as well as Final Four contenders for the next 10 years or so.
Hansen: I certainly wouldn't refer to UCLA or Indiana as being "Elite" at this point in time. No one cares anymore what happened at Indiana in 1976 under Bobby Knight, and people definitely don't care what Ed O'Bannon and Co. did 10 years ago, because in this day and age it's all about what have you done for me lately? In UCLA's case, what the Bruins have done since that time is go through three different coaches and miss the NCAA tourney twice in a row now. If programs can maintain residency among the national elite based on past greatness, what’s keeping CCNY, San Francisco and Cincinnati from inclusion in this group?
Immel: Please, you're comparing apples and...cauliflower. What I'll say is this; everyone knows UCLA within two years will be a top 10 team and then more than likely stay that way for the next large chunk of our lifetimes. This seems to be a given in the college basketball community, and that knowledge and faith in the program means that it absolutely is still one of the elites, and always will be.
Hansen: Apples and cauliflower. Now that’s a great analogy. And, until just now, one I’d never heard before in my life. I’m guessing I never hear it again, either.
Immel: How about this, Ben, let me ask you a question. Sitting as we are today, right now, which is more likely to happen? It’s 15 years down the line, 2020, let's say, which University is more likely to win the national title, Connecticut, Arizona or UCLA?
Hansen: Objection! Irrelevant.
Immel: I have no idea what that means…But that's why there are so few "Elite" schools, because the truthful answer to that question is, who the hell knows what kind of shape Connecticut and Arizona's basketball programs will be in at that stage?
*Lightning Round. Quick answers… Give me three of the toughest places to play in America that aren't venues everyone already knows about.
Immel: Ah, I think Mac Court in Eugene, Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, and the Marriott Center in Provo are probably the toughest places to play out west, simply factoring in home-crowd advantage.
Hansen: I’m going with The Kennel at Gonzaga (I think it’s Kennel 2 now with the new arena in place), the Deaf Dome at LSU and the Hunstman Center at Utah.
Your team is playing for the National Championship on CBS. Which announcers do you want calling the action?
Immel: I’d go with Bill Raftery and Barry Tompkins (Fox Sports Net guy)...only two.
Hansen: My play-by-play guy is Kevin Harlan but only if my team is winning the game. He loves to yell when something good happens so if Hassan throws down some nasty dunk over Wayne Simien (yes, that’s your title game come April 4, folks), I’d love to see who screams louder: Sauce or Harlan. My two color guys doing the analysis are definitely Jay Bilas and Marques Johnson. Not because they’re both good (I do love Bilas, though) but because it would be pure comedy to hear Johnson continuously yell “Yakka!” after every made basket and then have Bilas tell him how stupid he sounds.
Immel: Arizona in the title game comment just went right over my head, but I actually like Marques Johnson. I find him entertaining, and as you well know, Ben, I say 'yakka' when my toast is done in the mornings, I like the expression so much.
Which announcers do you get restraining orders for to ensure they can't come anywhere near the broadcast?
Immel: I think Bill Walton is terrible, and even though he doesn't do many games each year, I can't stand the guy. I used to like Billy Packer but now I find him to be inordinately condescending towards the audience and harsh towards many of the players. Mike Tirico kind of bothers me as well, because even though he knows his stuff and he's really well prepared, he's just way too proper to be a sportscaster...I mean, I need some grammatical errors at some point during the broadcast or else I'll start questioning the entire operation.
Hansen: Easy. Duke Vitale, Digger Phelps, Dave Sitton, Steve Physioc, Billy Packer, Bill Raftery, Pam Ward and Eric Dickerson on the sidelines. I can’t believe you punked Walton like that; I love that guy and would definitely include him in my real three-man crew along with Harlan and Bilas.
Final question: What is your ultimate Upset Special, regular season edition?
Immel: Ben, you know I can't just pick one, so I'll tell you that the three that pop out at me are Arkansas over Illinois on December 4th, Virginia over Arizona on November 21st, and Princeton winning in Cameron over Duke on January 5th.
Hansen: Before I begin, let me state for the record that one of the main reasons I hate Syracuse is because of its scheduling tactics. This year – again – the Orange doesn’t play its first game outside the state of New York until Jan. 10. That’s a span of 16 games. Unreal. Jim Boeheim truly is the Bill Snyder of college hoops. Anyway, my upset special is Utah winning the Great Alaska Shootout over a field that includes first round opponent Washington, potential second round matchup Oklahoma and likely title game foe Alabama. And I agree with Immel that Arizona is in for a long night in Charlottesville against the Cavaliers on its way to Madison Square Garden.
Notes: The true identities of these two morons are Ben Hansen, the Senior Editor of GOAZCATS.com, and Jonathan Dintzer, one of the most informed members of the GOAZCATS.com message board community.
Dintzer grew up in southern California as a lifelong UCLA fan but now attends the University of Arizona. He enjoys long walks on the beach, phone calls with former Bruin guard Toby Bailey and a nice bottle of Glenlivet from 1974.
Hansen, meanwhile, is still in the process of growing up.
Check back soon for more of the Hansen-Immel Debates with ever-chaning topics surrounding Arizona, the Pac-10 and college basketball in general.