Each week I'll talk about the sport I love, college basketball:
•How about a salute to the Wizard of Westwood, legendary UCLA coach John Wooden. He celebrated his 98th birthday on Tuesday, October 14th. Wow, what a special man, a coaching legend in every sense of the word. I have had the pleasure of spending time talking about coaching, athletes and the game of college basketball on a number of occasions. Every time I sat down with him, I learned something new. He is an amazing individual. Happy Birthday and here's hoping for many more!
•Speaking of Wooden, his legends of coaching award will be presented to Texas coach Rick Barnes in April. The Longhorn coach has helped Texas reach 10 straight NCAA tournaments. My friends, with AJ Abrams and Damion James leading the way, it should be 11 in a row at the end of this season.
•I have always felt Lew Perkins is one of the best athletic directors in America. At Kansas, he has brought in quality personnel. His latest addition was Former Missouri State head basketball coach Barry Hinson, who joined the Jayhawks staff as the director of external relations. Hinson has ties for Kansas coach Bill Self, serving as an assistant at Oral Roberts before taking over as head coach when Self went to Illinois. Hinson guided Missouri State to four postseason appearances and three Missouri Valley Conference Tournament championship games in nine years. Under his direction the Bears were 169-117 and had eight winning seasons.
•I was sorry to hear that former University of Indiana star DJ White was expected to miss 4-6 months of his rookie season with Oklahoma City. White was diagnosed with a benign growth in his jaw that required surgery. He had so many injury problems while in Bloomington, and he gave it his all when he was on the court.
•While a few colleges started their Midnight Madness (Kentucky, Illinois among them) style events early, and many more are opening practice this week, Roy Williams had a novel idea. The Tar Heels will have their Late Night with Roy Williams on October 24th at 4 pm. My friends, there is no doubt that the squad from Chapel Hill will be #1 in the preseason polls.
•Down at South Carolina, new coach Darrin Horn is going to instill more discipline. He inherits a team that finished 14-18 last season but returns talented guard Devan Downey and Zam Fredrick. Both guys adjusted last season after sitting out the season before as transfers (Downey from Cincinnati, Fredrick from Georgia Tech). Horn had success at Western Kentucky and could make some noise in the SEC.
•Great to hear that former St. John's coach Lou Carnesecca was honored in the Columbus Day parade in New York City. Looie was part of a float honoring St. John's. A number of former players also rode on the float, including Walter Berry. I miss the flamboyant coaching style of Carnesecca on the sidelines. I loved that sweater, baby!
•College hoop fans received a Christmas gift early. ESPN and the University of Hawaii announced a new eight-team, holiday tournament called the Diamond Head Classic, starting in 2009. The event will feature 12 games played over three days, around the Dec. 24 Hawaii Bowl football game. The championship game will be held on Christmas.
•Rick Pitino has had some tough luck at Louisville. It seems like his team copes with injuries every season. David Padgett, Juan Palacios and Andre McGee have missed serious amounts of time. Now Terence Williams is sidelined 4-6 weeks after surgery to repair an MCL injury. At least Williams should be ready for the brunt of the season.