SMU Mustangs head men's basketball coach Larry Brown believes the undefeated Kentucky Wildcats can actually compete in the NBA's Eastern Conference playoffs.
SMU Mustangs head men's basketball coach Larry Brown believes the Kentucky Wildcats can compete in the NBA's Eastern Conference playoffs.
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This was what Brown said during a press conference for the Mustangs' upcoming NCAA Tournament game against the UCLA Bruins in Louisville, Ky. on March 19, per The Dallas Morning News' E.J. Holland:
"He (Henry Iba) offered me my first job at Kentucky State. I played for him on the Olympic team in 1964, and I went on a tour with him to the Iron Curtain countries, and he was like a mentor to me. I don't want to put pressure on (Wildcats head coach) John (Calipari).
"I feel real close to him. I'm so proud of what he's done. I think they'd honestly make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference if they were in the NBA.
"I follow basketball. I'm a junkie. The thing people forget, it's not easy to coach great players. It's probably harder to deal with parents that could have great players. But I've been so impressed with the way they defend and the way they share the ball and the way they don't have an ego."
Brown tells the media the Wildcats remind him of the late Jerry Tarkanian's UNLV Runnin' Rebels teams of the late 1980s and early 1990s, per Holland:
"It reminds me a lot of Tark's (Jerry Tarkanian) teams. Tark was so underrated in my mind about what he did on the defensive end and how he got kids committed to do what they did best. For the sake of the team, and I think John's been able to do that.
"But you have to be lucky. You don't win a championship unless special things happen. My first year at UCLA, we make the layup, we win the National Championship. When I was at Kansas, if Archie Marshall doesn't go down with a knee injury, we might have won three. You've just got to be fortunate.
"But I think in order for somebody to beat Kentucky, Kentucky has to play as poorly as they can possibly play, and somebody else has to play great because they defend so well. They rebound the ball so well, and he's got them playing as a team. It's going to be a test for anybody."
Last month, Brown chimed in on a basketball analytics issue with TNT analyst Charles Barkely at the center of it all.
It all started when Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey posted this tweet on Feb. 11:
Best part of being at a TNT game live is it is easy to avoid Charles spewing misinformed biased vitriol disguised as entertainment— Daryl Morey (@dmorey) February 11, 2015
According to Drew Davison of The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Barkley ripped Morey on national television by saying he's "one of those idiots who believe in analytics." Barkley went on to say analytics is nothing but "crap":
"First of all, I've always believed analytics was crap. They say that same crap in baseball, and they put these little lightweight teams together and they never win.
"They're always competitive to a certain degree and they don't win. It's the same thing in the NBA."
For his part, Brown told Davison success in basketball ultimately lies in effective teaching:
"This analytics stuff has gotten in the way. Most of these owners are really bright, bright businessmen and they got a lot of their success on information. I don't think basketball is about information.
"It's about teaching and putting people in position to be successful. I also think--both college and pro--have suffered because there's not enough teaching going on."
Brown also emphasized to Davison he's not completely against analytics use in basketball. He reveals he's been using them since he was 14 years old:
"I knew shooting percentages, I knew who could shoot, who couldn't. I knew what was a good shot, what was a bad shot. I knew who I could count on at the end of a game to make a play. I knew if somebody couldn't guard. You can feed everybody all the information you want, but (it's also) something in here (pointing to his gut).
"I think the fact that if you love the game and are a student of the game, you understand things that are important. And if anybody says old-school guys don't use analytics, I would say they've been using them long, long before these guys compiled all this stuff."
According to the Mustangs' official athletics website, they finished with a 27-6 win-loss record. Theyt are making their 11th NCAA Tournament appearance and first in 22 years. Heading into the NCAA tourney, SMU has been on a four-game winning streak and has won 25 of its past 28 games.
The Mustangs are seeking to improve a 10-12 NCAA Tournament record when they face UCLA on March 19. Their best-ever finish was a Final Four appearance in 1956, per SMUMustangs.com.
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