Let's start at the very beginning - when players are young enough to play competitive sports. You are kidding yourself if you don't think recruiting goes on at the 5th and 6th grade levels. Allow me to give an example of that here where I live. There are a couple of elementary basketball players who right now appear to be gifted athletes and clearly better than your "normal" 5th and 6th graders. Their parents have taken these kids out of their schools and put them in another, and now face pressure from their previous schools. These are good kids - but if you speak with either of them they will tell you everything on offense should run around them and they know they are the best players. What's my point, you ask? Players today are a lot different than ten years ago. You have 11 and 12 year old boys telling adults how things should be done, and if it's not then mommy and daddy will take them somewhere else where things will go their way.
Often times when a kid gets to college their egos are set and it's very hard to break them. The college coaches are easy to blame when things go bad (if you lose it's time to get rid of the coach, forgetting the fact they won a league championship just a couple of years ago). I guess in that two-year time frame they have forgotten everything about coaching. What's a coach to do when the team's best player doesn't appear to support what you are saying? Should he: a) fight fire with fire, or b) talk through the media, or c) talk with this kid individually? There's no right or wrong answer. Coaches have their own way of dealing with things, which is to say that one way is no better than the other.
Things may get tough for an athlete, but when it does leaving is not always the best answer. I know a lot of players are upset with the fact that Bill Self left, but he's gone and bringing up this issue every week is not fair to the current staff.
This entire situation with Dee Brown is being blown way out of proportion. How do I know? I was there and heard the entire conversation. Here's a picture of that day. It's over and done with - move on.
H. Gould and Dee Brown
Now back to the topic at hand. When a coach makes a comment about a player to the media that's not "coach talk", why is that wrong? Would you prefer the truth or would you like to have things sugar-coated. Ron Turner is an honest man. What you see is what you get. I can respect that. Talking with him you know why things are the way they are. Bruce Weber appears to be made from the same mold. I really don't think for one minute he was calling out Dee Brown about that whole leadership situation. I heard it come from the coach's mouth. It was small talk to me. Because in that same conference Bruce Weber also said, "I need Dee and Deron to be successful. I don't want to scare them off." So, it's all in how you choose to interpret things. I love the fact that coaches are honest, but at the same time you might want to be careful. Potential recruits may read too much into what's being written.
Maybe if coaches were more honest and stopped enabling kids they would be better off in the long run. Let them know there are consequences to everything they do, and that they have to listen and respect their coach at hand.
A lot of coaches will slap a kid on the wrist just to win games and keep his job. Illinois fans, Ron Turner and Bruce Weber are not those coaches. Turner was having a bad football season last year and fans couldn't understand why QB Jon Beujter wasn't on the field and back-up Dustin Ward was playing. Maybe it had something to do with Beujter not wanting to do things Turner's way. Did anyone ever think of that?
Now that the suspensions have been handed down for three current basketball players (Luther Head, Aaron Spears and Richard McBride), it shows that no matter what game it is or whether it's the best player - rules are rules and coaches that stick to them will be better off in the long run.
The fellas with D. Williams he gave them advice about playing the game (KP Photo)