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|Vivian Stringer's a great candidate for the Georgetown job. She just happens to be a woman.|
Johnny Dawkins should be interviewed. He's a D.C. native, went to Mackin High, helped turn Duke into what it is today -- as a player. He comports himself well on the bench, where he's taken root next to Coach K. But we don't seriously want to compare his coaching chops with Vivian Stringer's resume. John Thompson III should get an interview on the strength of his pedigree alone. He is, after all, the son of the Daddy of G-Town hoop, Big John, the Nike Voice-Over of "Greatness." In point of fact, JT III would seem to have the inside track. He should definitely get an interview. And Princeton should sweeten the pot for him to stay as its head coach. JT III is a perfect fit ... for Princeton. Trent Johnson of Nevada, Kevin Stallings of Vanderbilt, Thad Matta of Xavier, Bobby Gonzalez of Manhattan, Mike Anderson of UAB ... they've all won a couple of games in the NCAAs and are going to be in the mix for a lot of openings, like Stan Heath a couple of years ago at Kent State before he was hired away by Arkansas. But do not presume to put these coaches on the level of a Vivian Stringer, who has taken three different schools -- not traditional national power schools -- to three Final Fours! Still, if Vivian Stringer gets the job -- and sets off a firestorm of comment and resentment -- there will be those who say she got it because she's a woman.
But that isn't really the case. This is more like the case: If Vivian Stringer was a man, she'd have been hired at Georgetown yesterday. ***** I've been on this Vivian Stringer kick for a while. It heated up in the last week, after Craig Esherick was fired as G-Town's head coach. Craig complained he shouldn't be judged as a pro coach, because he isn't a pro coach. Bad combat tactics there. He is a pro coach, in that coaching is his profession. After hearing the list of his possible successors, I began to think of Vivian Stringer, and came to the conclusion that she is perfect for this job. She's in the tradition, so to speak. I first aired these thoughts on SportsTalk 980 radio in Washington, D.C. Hosts Andy Pollin and Steve Czaban were talking about who should replace Esherick. When I said it should be Vivian Stringer, they were stunned. At least one of them considered me certifiable. I'd recorded a "Voices of SportsCenter" segment about Stringer, about how she is one of the most admirable figures in American sports, about how much she has overcome, about how much she has accomplished in her career. It might seem as if women's coaches like Pat Summitt and Geno Auriemma have accomplished more, but have they, really? Pat and Geno can get (and then cuss at and ream out) any high school All-American they want, whereas Vivian has always had to make do with much lesser talents. Still, she's taken Cheyney State, Iowa and Rutgers to the NCAA Women's Final Four.
|Larry Brown may not have all the rings -- but he may have the best resume.|
If I could hire one of those three to coach a team, whether it's a mid-level contender or a championship squad or an expansion team that has to come up from nothing ... if I had to hire one to teach the game, regardless of gender and regardless of institution, I'd take Larry Brown every time. No doubt in my mind. Likewise with Vivian Stringer and Georgetown. Who better? None that I know of. I'm not looking at the coach's gender. I'm looking at the coach. When I mention this to people, I'm amused by their reactions, by the troubled grumbling and desperate search for reasons it won't work. There isn't one. Example: "Well, she wouldn't be able to recruit, because other schools' recruiters would say, 'You don't want to play for a woman.'" Nobody would get away with that. If there's one thing all these recruits have in common, it's mothers. So if anything, Coach Stringer would have an advantage in recruiting. She'd be less likely to bury a kid's academic responsibilities, or bury a kid, period. A kid would have real expectations in his life. That's my take on it. So what's the hold-up? There's no physical limitation. You can't say, as is said of women golfers, that she can't hit the ball far enough, that the tracks are too long. She's not playing basketball; she's coaching it. My estimable colleague, Dan Le Batard, asked me on his ESPN Sunday Morning Magazine radio show, "What about the Fear Factor?" That is to say, the manner in which many, if not most, college basketball coaches rule by fear. But what's to fear? Being put off the team? Having playing time cut? Being suspended? Or, worst of all, having a scholarship taken away, being encouraged to transfer, or to just leave? This fear is not a physical fear. Believe me, to a 20-year-old college athlete, the gender of a 50-plus year-old coach is irrelevant as far as physical fear is concerned. Dan then allowed that if Auriemma was to be interviewed for the Georgetown job, nobody would think anything of it. They'd say, "Interesting move." It's a question of respect. I think Vivian Stringer has that respect, and engenders that respect, because of who she is and how she is and what she knows and how she imparts it and what she's done and how she does it. This past season, Stringer led Rutgers to a runner-up finish in the Big East tournament and to a No. 7 seed in the NCAA tournament, despite losing three starters to injury, the last on the final play of the Big East semis when guard Dawn McCollough hurt her knee. Coach Stringer had to suit up two student managers, Erin Boccher and Devon Groomes, just to have nine dressed for the Big East final against Boston College.
|Stringer and her squad went down to Chattanooga, but she handled it the right way.|
|Clarice Starling could handle men pretty well -- so could Stringer.|
|Don't you think Stringer could hold her own with the Calhouns and the Coack Ks of the men's game?|
|John Thompson's Hoyas won the 1984 title, but they were ousted by lowly 'Nova in '85.|