Tag Archives: Retired Players

Interview With Bob Scrabis

Bob Scrabis

Interview Conducted 10/28/2008

Princeton Athletics

Princeton Athletics

Before the 1988-89 college basketball season, the NCAA considered removing automatic NCAA Tournament bids of teams from small conferences.

These teams were generally non-competitive in the first round against their opponents, who were #1 and #2 seeds.

The #16 seed Princeton Tigers of the non-scholarship Ivy League forever changed the thinking of the NCAA hierarchs.

Led by Ivy League Player of the Year Bob Scrabis, the 1988-89 Princeton Tigers nearly pulled off a monumental upset in the first round of the NCAA Tournament against the #1 team in the nation, the Georgetown Hoyas.

The final regular season game before the NCAA Tournament seeding was the Big East Conference Championship between Georgetown and Syracuse. The Princeton Tigers watched the game on television waiting for the selection show. The Hoyas’ won 88-79 with a pressing defense that overwhelmed Syracuse.

SCRABIS: “When the selection show started, the first game they showed was Georgetown and us. I think we were excited and me being the only senior and captain of the team, I had to sort of keep my composure.”

During practices leading up to the tournament, Head Coach Pete Carril instructed Princeton’s second team to mimic Georgetown’s pressing defense against the starters.

SCRABIS: “They were told just to press us all over the place. We were having all kinds of trouble getting our offense to function against our second team. We knew we had a tough game ahead of us.” Continue reading


Interview With Lorenzo Romar

Lorenzo Romar

Interview Conducted 10/27/2008

Robert Beck/SI

Robert Beck/SI

Lorenzo Romar, entering his seventh season as head coach of the Washington Huskies, has been able to influence many lives through the game of basketball, whether it be through sports ministry or coaching.

Romar and his family grew up in Compton, California, one of the most dangerous cities in America. Street gangs, violent crime, and abject poverty are all prevalent.

Romar and his brother Wayne were able to avoid the allure of street life for teens growing up in Compton.

ROMAR: “Between my parents and sports, those two things kept me from getting involved in anything like that. We just wouldn’t come home if we did something dumb and our parents found out about it. It wasn’t going to be a pleasant experience.”

“Our sports meant too much to my brother and I to get involved in anything that was going to take away from us or not allow us to be as good as we can be.”

Romar received a basketball scholarship to two-year Cerritos College. Wayne signed to play basketball with Sterling College, an NAIA school in Kansas. Continue reading

Interview With Cazzie Russell

Cazzie Russell

Interview Conducted 10/21/2008

Bentley Historical Library

Bentley Historical Library

Few athletes can lay claim to having an arena or stadium affectionately named in their honor. Cazzie Russell is one of them.

A legendary basketball prodigy from Chicago’s Southside, Russell arrived onto the city’s basketball scene when he led Carver High School’s Junior Varsity program to the Chicago city JV Title in 1960.

By his senior year, Russell paced Carver High School to the Chicago city title in 1962, averaging over 25 points a game.

As one of the most coveted senior prospects in the country, Russell received offers from over 50 college basketball programs. He narrowed his choices to UCLA, Marquette, Cincinnati, and Michigan.

Cincinnati sent Oscar Robertson, by then an NBA star with the Cincinnati Royals, to Carver High School to visit with Russell.

RUSSELL: “I had a tough decision because Oscar Robertson came to my high school. I idolized the way he played of course because we were the same size.”

Russell visited Michigan in the spring and developed a friendship with his tour guide, freshman Bill Buntin.

RUSSELL: “I was comfortable with Bill Buntin who was my host. As a young player coming out of high school, it was important to feel comfortable with [another] guy being from a predominantly black area.”

Russell ultimately chose Michigan because the basketball program was in a rebuilding stage.

RUSSELL: “It was basically a football school, so there probably wouldn’t be a lot of pressure. That was one of my major decisions.”

Russell led Michigan to three Big 10 titles, averaging 27.1 points per game in his career. He was a three-time AP All American. Continue reading

Interview With Terry Holland

Terry Holland

Interview Conducted Via E-Mail 10/6/2008

ECU Sports

ECU Sports

Terry Holland, East Carolina University’s Athletic Director and Executive Director to Chancellor Steve Ballard, continues his “Midas Touch” for college athletic programs he has played for, coached, and served as Athletic Director.

He began his basketball player at Davidson College, leading them to a #10 NCAA ranking in 1963-64 as a senior captain under Lefty Driesell.

Once Driesell left to take the Maryland job, Holland became the Head Coach of the Wildcats at just 27 years old.

Holland won 92 games in five years. He received Southern Conference Coach of the Year honors three times. 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