Wednesday, December 13, 2006

"In the year 2000..."

Over the past season or two, I've found myself thinking about the future-- specifically, who will replace Bo at UW. Not that I want such a thing to happen anytime soon, it's just that Bo has already had a long career and is in his late 50s.

Last season, my eye fell to Rob Jeter, the current coach at UW-Milwaukee. Of course, this is an easy way out-- Jeter is a Ryan disciple, having played for and coached under Bo for years. Jeter runs "the swing" just like Bo, meaning the team's strategic focus wouldn't have to change. Plus, given their close relationship, it would be akin to Bo naming a successor, Barry-style.

First, purely based on the team's success last season, Jeter can coach. I know he took over a team that Bruce Pearl coached to the Sweet-Sixteen (one game further than they went last season) and that returned a lot of starters. Nonetheless, he put in what appears to be an entirely new system, the team bought it, going 22-9 overall, but going 12-4 in their conference and winning the Horizon League tournament. Plus, their second round tournament exit was at the hands of Florida, last year's national champion, and they beat Kelvin Sampson's Oklahoma team in the first round. Jeter's abilities are currently being put to the test in a different way this year, as the Panthers lost nine scholarship players from last season. They've started the year 2-9, and may be easy fodder for the Badgers this evening. If they rally as the season goes along (hopefully not tonight against Bucky), I think that'll be a good sign in re Jeter's coaching prowess.

Second, and this is the weakest reason, which is why it's in the middle, he's a Wisconsin guy. Though Jeter's from the greater Chicagoland area, he went to UW-Platteville, coached with Bo at Platteville, UW-M, and Madison, and is now back in The Good Land, fronting the Panthers. It'd be nice to have someone committed to the state, like Bo, who views being the Wisconsin coach as, if not the pinnacle of a career, than as a seriously awesome job. Yes, I admit it, I'm afraid of overly qualified coaches like Stu Jackson coming in, having some success and swimming off to feed in higher profile/paid waters.

Third, I believe that Jeter is a good recruiter. Of course, the only way to prove/disprove this is anecdotally, so here goes. Although I love Trevon "Pop" Hughes, Mr. Basketball in the state of Wisco last year was Jerry Smith, a young man who is currently a freshman at Louisville. He explicitly said that he would have come to UW, but Jeter taking the job at UW-M caused him to balk; after Jeter left, Smith looked around some more and then eventually headed down to the birthplace of Cassius Clay. Apparently, Smith and his parents really liked Jeter. Smith is averaging about 9 points a game for the Cardinals this season.
A further example-- the best high school basketball team in Illinois this year is a Chicago Public League team from Simeon High School. Simeon won the state tournament last season. They have the best player in the state, Derrick Rose, who is heading out of Illinois to play college basketball (like many of the best players in Illinois in recent years, knock on wood) . Rose will play one or two years at Memphis before jumping to the pros. Simeon also has two other stars, both of whom have taken over games when opposing teams focused their defense on Rose. Both are going to UW-M next season. One, forward Tim Flowers, had scholarship offers from USC and Temple (the other is Kevin Johnson, a 6'6" forward).
Time will reveal how these players, and others, pan out for Jeter, and whether he's capable of developing them and bringing them together to create a successful team from scratch. But if he can, especially at a commuter school like UW-M, you'd think that would bode extremely well for his abilities. Something to keep an eye on, and another reason to cheer for an in-state school, at least when they're not playing Bucky.

1 comment:

U-65 since 1978 said...

Um, less than 24 hours away from #2 vs. #7 at the Kohl Campus, Grey might be out, and no preview? C'mon Camp Lambeau! Hook it up!