Big men with bad hands won't get the big rebound. Big men with bad hands will frustrate the fancy-passing guard and make him gunshy about feeding the post.
Big men with bad hands fumble away so many opportunities they crush a team's momentum and when that happens, fatigue sets in and pretty soon everyone is playing as sloppily as the big man with bad hands and who wants to watch that? Coaches rely on drills to improve hands, but generally an athlete either has good hands or he doesn't. Seeing a player's hands improve to the extent national championship team Jerome Whitehead's did during his career is rare. Since I read on MarquetteHoops.com (which I check repeatedly ever day) that Patrick Hazel committed to Marquette, I've read everything I could on him, yet none of the content made a reference to his hands, either good or bad. So I set out on a mission to find someone who had seen him play often and wanted to see if that someone would offer an opinion on his hands without being asked.
I didn't want the usual coach speak, but did want an honest, hold-nothing-back viewpoint from a coach who had seen Hazel play often enough to offer an informed opinion on his game. In exchange for that, I offered anonymity. I found someone who watched him often during this past summer andÂ Mr. Anonymous gave his read.
"I would have said definite Atlantic 10 player and at first a bit of a reach as a Big East player," Mr. Anonymous said. "I thought he'd have to go to the right Big East school to be able to develop into a good Big East player, a school where he'd be surrounded by hard workers. He had a little bit of an attitude, not real bad, just a little and he didn't always work hard."
As for his game, Mr. Anonymous said: "He's not a good shooter and not a good free-throw shooter. He runs the floor great. I mean great. He's a good rebounder and he can really block shots. He's a little undersized, but he's got a real knack for blocking shots."
"Oh, and one more thing, he said, before delivering the payoff pitch. "He's got great hands."
As Marv Albert would say, YES! The verdict is in: Good recruit.
Tom Keegan, sports editor of the Lawrence Journal-World, covers Kansas University football and basketball. He is a 1981 graduate of Marquette University.