Monthly Archives: September 2008

Thanks y’all!

#4 Blog of the Day

#4 Blog of the Day

Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that this site would explode in unique visits so quickly in a little more than two weeks.

I would really like to thank the folks who have agreed to chat with me and the SIDs who have facilitated a couple of the interviews.

Last, and definitely not least, I must thank all of you who have visited that have made this site a great success.

Bookmark us, keeping coming back, and tell your friends, family, message boards related to the teams whose coaches and alums I interview, and anyone else with opposable thumbs about the Basketball Interview Challenge.

If you have any questions, suggestions for interviews, or anything else, please contact me at the e-mail address found here.

Leave comments too on the posts if you so desire. I moderate comments so no one speaks pejoratively about those folks who are kind enough to interview, but I’m interested in feedback. Your e-mail address is not available to the public, but if you want to link your name to your website, you can.

I don’t use your e-mail address for mailing lists, spam, etc., so don’t feel a need to worry about that.

We have some pretty big names in basketball lined up in the next couple weeks, especially as coaches finally end their busy recruiting schedules and will have a little more time before practices start, so keep checking back.

Thanks and have a great weekend!

© 2008


Interview With Rollie Massimino

Rollie Massimino

Interview Conducted 9/24/2008

AP Photo/Steve Mitchell

AP Photo/Steve Mitchell

It has now been 23 years since the Villanova Wildcats made an improbable run as a #8 seed to win the 1984-85 NCAA tournament.

Led by Head Coach Rollie Massimino, the Wildcats defeated defending National Champion Georgetown 66-64, in a game regarded by most sports fans as one of the greatest upsets in college basketball history.

Though Villanova played Georgetown very competitively in their two regular season matchups, losing by scores of 52-50 and 57-50, the Wildcats came into the game as double-digit underdogs.

MASSIMINO: “No one thought we had a chance.”

“I explained to our players that you’re good enough to play in the finals and win it.”

“So I told them to go up to their rooms and reflect that we’re going to play the game to win and not to lose.” Continue reading

Interview With Jay Bilas (Part 3 of 3)

Jay Bilas

Part 3 of 3

Interview Conducted 9/22/2008

IMG Speakers

IMG Speakers

This is the third of a three part interview:

For Part 1: Click Here

For Part 2: Click Here

The recruiting process took place through high schools, high school basketball coaches, and parents during the era when Bilas was a top recruit.

Now because of NCAA regulations prohibiting when high school basketball coaches can be contacted, the coaches have little influence in most cases over their player’s recruitment and ultimately their final college decision.

BILAS: “Right now, [college] coaches that are recruiting players are dealing with people who are not in any way, shape, or form educators, and that’s a very big difference.”

“What do you have to do to be a AAU coach? You have to be able to blow through a whistle. That’s all it takes.”

“So because of the way the recruiting rules are, those people have more influence over the process than they used to, and the process has been moved up now. It’s really rare to find a top 50 player who hasn’t committed before the start of his senior year. Everything’s very different.”

Bilas emphasized that AAU basketball tournaments, which are NCAA-certified, can be a positive form for players to improve their game.

What concerns him is that AAU basketball gets mislabeled by many as “Summer Basketball Culture.” He defined true “Summer Basketball Culture” as leagues run by people who operate without regulation and accreditation. Continue reading

Interview With Jay Bilas (Part 2 of 3)

Jay Bilas

Part 2 of 3

Interview Conducted 9/22/2008

IMG Speakers

IMG Speakers

This is the second of a three part interview:

For Part 1: Click Here

More AAU basketball tournaments feature elementary and middle school talent. Shoe companies develop elite invite camps for young players they deem “phenoms.”

Several recruiting services are now ranking or providing scouting reports for kids as young as sixth grade.

BILAS: “I don’t know many smart basketball people that are out there scouting 11 year olds really trying to stay ahead of the game. It’s just not happening. Maybe it will. Just not now.”

But there is an increasing public demand for recruiting services to list top prospects in middle school. Dallas Morning News sportswriter Barry Horn summarizes the ranking phenomenon of young basketball talent as:

A business fueled by an insatiable appetite that Americans display for sports rankings. In youth basketball, they give a semblance of order in an otherwise chaotic world. They bestow status. They attract attention.

Even though these sites are profiting from an increasing demand for middle school player rankings, lists, and brief scouting reports, Bilas feels it doesn’t make a “smart” business decision.

BILAS: “Just because it sells doesn’t mean it’s smart. You can turn on television at 2:00 a.m. and see some things that are selling that wouldn’t be called smart buys. There’s a lot of diet books out there that are selling because people want to be thin, but they are not giving good advice.”

“The question isn’t is if [these rankings] are legal or are they moral. When you look at it you go, ‘Is this what we want to be doing? Is this the right thing to do?'” Continue reading

Interview With Jay Bilas (Part 1 of 3)

Jay Bilas

Part 1 of 3

Interview Conducted 9/22/2008

IMG Speakers

IMG Speakers

This is the first of a three part interview:

Honestly, it would take ten paragraphs to compile even a concise biography for Jay Bilas.

He’s a former Duke basketball standout, turned Spanish & Italian International Basketball star, turned Duke Assistant Basketball coach, turned actor, turned lawyer, turned ESPN color commentator and analyst.

We’ll just let his IMG Speakers Bureau and ESPN official biography provide you with all the details.

In the first part of my three part interview with Bilas, we discussed how the basketball recruiting landscape has evolved in the last 30 years.

Bilas, a post player from Rolling Hills High School in Los Angeles, was himself a consensus Top 40 national player in 1981-82, his senior season.

Unlike the prospects of today, Bilas did not receive his first recruiting letter until his sophomore year in 1980.

BILAS: “I remember who I got my first recruiting letter from. It was the University of Oregon, but Oregon sent letters to every player on the West Coast who could walk and chew gum at the same time. It was just smart recruiting on their part because everybody remembered them.”

AAU basketball summer leagues, which are one of the staples for prep player development and prospect identification today, were almost non-existent during Bilas’ prep career. Select Leagues, which Bilas participated in were available in Southern California.

BILAS: “I played in summer leagues in Los Angeles. I played in the U.S. Olympic Development League which was probably the best league in Southern California at that time.”

“I played in what would now be called AAU events, but there wasn’t a lot of that. AAU wasn’t as prevalent as it was today.”

Still, summer basketball in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s was prep team-oriented.

BILAS: “Back then you played with your high school team. Every player on the basketball team took [Summer PE Courses] and we practiced every day. Then we played as a team in the Long Beach City College Summer League and one other league. We played a couple of games a week back then.”

Continue reading

Interview With David Arseneault

David Arseneault

Interview Conducted 9/12/2008

Grinnell Athletics

Grinnell Athletics

Pity the scorekeeper for Grinnell Men’s Basketball games.

David Arseneault, the Men’s Head Basketball Coach at NCAA Division-III Grinnell College, uses what he calls “The System” to shatter NCAA offense records. There are five components.

  1. Take at least 94 shots.
  2. Shoot at least half of them behind the three-point line.
  3. Force the other team to turn it over 32 times.
  4. Take 25 more shots than the opposition.
  5. Offensive rebound a third of missed shots.

ARSENEAULT: “Our goal is to perfect chaos.”

“We’ve been successful winning at a 95% clip when we meet all five goals, which we tend to do one out of three games.”

Continue reading

Interview With Josh Pastner

Josh Pastner

Interview Conducted 9/12/2008

Memphis Athletics

Memphis Athletics

Memphis Assistant Basketball Coach Josh Pastner’s success can easily be attributed to this quote:

PASTNER: “I sometimes don’t know what to do with myself when I have some down time or some free time, because I’m just not used to relaxing.”

The son of legendary Houston AAU Basketball Coach Hal Pastner, Josh was eager to succeed in his father’s profession once he could start dribbling a basketball.

While many of his middle school classmates were learning how to run a basic motion offense, Pastner created the Josh Pastner Scouting Service, a 100-page yearly annual, at just 13 years old.

Continue reading