Beamer, Benz, or Betley: HoopsHD interviews Penn recruit Ryan Betley

Penn has had only had 1 winning season in the past decade so they are in dire need of some good recruits to help restore the program to its past glory.  1 of those incoming freshmen who hopes to make the Quaker alumni proud is Ryan Betley out of Downingtown West High School.  He committed to Penn after his junior year, then finished his senior year by breaking his school’s record for career scoring.  HoopsHD’s Jon Teitel got to chat with Ryan about why he chose Penn and what he knows about Coach Steve Donahue. 

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On Twitter you are listed as “Metta World Peace”: what made you choose that name? I was just hanging out with some friends and we were thinking about funny Twitter names: he was a tough guy on the court.

You were known for being a shooter at Downingtown West High School: what position did you play in high school, and what position do you think will be your best fit in college? I played SG in high school so I think that will be my best fit. I am 6’5” and can shoot, which allows me to be versatile on defense.

You finished your high school career with 1333 PTS, passing Eddie Barton as the all-time leading scorer in school history: what is the secret to being a great scorer, and do you think that anyone will ever break your record? I think that someone will eventually break my record. You have to be able to shoot the 3: it is an easy way to get a lot of points. It also helps if you can get to the rim and make free throws.

You were a 2-time team captain: what is the key to being a good leader? You need to be vocal in the locker room and competitive on the court. I tried to push my teammates to be better.

You received scholarship offers from several Ivy/Patriot schools: what made you pick Penn? It has great history and a great education: I want to study business and you cannot beat Wharton. I can also see myself fitting into their offense very well.

You announced that you were going to Penn in July of 2015: why did you make your decision so early in the recruiting process? I just wanted to trust my gut. I had liked Penn for a while and did not want to miss out by having someone commit before me. After evaluating some other schools I figured that my best option was to go to Penn.

What do you know about Coach Steve Donahue? I know that he is a Philly-area guy. I also know a lot of people who know him so he is a familiar face around here. He took Cornell to the Sweet 16 and coached at BC after starting his career as a JV coach at Penn.

Last month Coach Donahue announced the rest of your freshman class (AJ Brodeur/Devon Goodman/Ray Jerome/Zack Kaminsky/Jakub Mijakowski): which of them do you know the most about, and how much pressure is there on your class to turn things around for a program that has only had 1 winning season in the past decade? I played AAU ball with Devon so I am closest to him, but a couple of weeks ago I was on campus and got to see most of the other guys: the only 1 I have not met yet is Jakub. We got to hang out for a week, which was nice. I do not think there is pressure on our class: our whole team wants to win and we just want to make the team better and return to that winning tradition that the older alums are used to seeing.

You also played golf in high school: are we going to see you as a 2-sport athlete for the Quakers? I will be a 1-sport athlete.

The Hoops HD Report: July Session

Despite it being the offseason, it’s been a rather busy couple of weeks in college basketball, and Chad and the panel go over all of the news and notes.  They begin by discussing the HB2 laws in North Carolina, and how it has already had an impact on college hoops with Albany not being permitted to play at Duke as they were originally scheduled to do.  They discuss whether or not the measure is appropriate considering Duke was so outspoken against the HB2 laws.  The Big Twelve athletic directors appeared to table expansion, but the Big Twelve presidents have decided to go ahead with it.  They discuss that along with some of the possible candidates.  They also delve into the recent allegations of abuse coming out of George Washington and look at what some of the long term consequences of that could be.  Last but not least, David Griggs is running for president!!  All that, and much more….

 

For all you radio lovers, below is an mp3 version of the show….

Nate the Great: HoopsHD remembers the life of Hall of Famer Nate Thurmond

We have already lost so many amazing people in 2016 to violence, disease, and old age, and July is being no kinder with the news that Hall of Famer Nate Thurmond passed away yesterday at the age of 74 after battling leukemia. At Bowling Green he became the only player in MAC history to ever lead the conference in rebounding for 3 consecutive seasons, then continued to prove his rebounding prowess by grabbing 42 in a game against the Pistons in 1965. Rather than just a big guy who hit the boards, he demonstrated his endurance by playing all 63 minutes of a 3-OT game in 1969, then showed off a little of everything in 1974 by becoming the 1st player in NBA history to officially record a quadruple-double. HoopsHD’s Jon Teitel had the privilege of interviewing Mr. Thurmond a few years ago, and is proud to share this never-before-published interview below. We send our condolences to his family/friends as we salute 1 of the best players in the history of the sport.

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1 of your Akron Central High School teammates was fellow future Hall of Famer Gus Johnson: how dominant was your team back in the day? Gus was a tremendous player even back then: he was a lot better than I was. 1 year we went into the Ohio state playoffs 1with an undefeated record and played a school called Liberty. They pressed us all game long and we did not have a good scheme to get the ball upcourt, which was our downfall in the only loss of our season.

What are your memories of the 1962 NCAA tourney as a player at Bowling Green (you had 21 PTS/14 REB in a 1-PT loss to Butler)? I do not have a lot of memories but I recall that Butler was an even smaller school than us so were kind of shocked by them. When it is 1-and-done in the tourney if you have an off night and the other team is on then they can pull off the upset, which is kind of what happened.

What are your memories of the 1963 NCAA tourney (you had 16 PTS/20 REB in a 5-PT win over Notre Dame)? That was an eye-opener for me because Notre Dame was a much bigger school. When you play against a team from a good conference they play much rougher so there were not as many fouls called that night. It was a credit to our coach.

You were a 3-time 1st-team all-conference pick and an All-American in 1963: what did it mean to you to win such outstanding honors? It just meant that my career was progressing as an individual, but you cannot get all of those accolades unless your team is successful so it was validation on both of those points. It also showed that I had been practicing hard and that it was paying off. I played with some great players, including Butch Komives/Elijah Chapman.

You remain the only player in MAC history to lead the conference in REB for 3 consecutive seasons: did you realize at the time how prolific a player you were, and do you think that anyone will ever break your record? I had worked hard on my game and began to have some success. I hope the record is not broken…but as I get older it does not matter that much to me!

In February 1965 you set a regular-season record that still stands with 18 REB in 1 quarter vs. Baltimore, and in November 1965 you had a career-high 42 REB in a game vs. Detroit (becoming the only players besides Bill Russell/Wilt Chamberlain to ever have more than 40 REB in a game): what was your secret for being a great rebounder? You have to have the “desire to be a center”. 1 of your jobs is to rebound the ball, otherwise you do not get to go back on offense. You also need to understand little things like the way the ball bounces off the rim, how to get position, etc., all of which I learned from my high school coach.

In Game 6 of the 1967 Finals you scored 12 PTS in a 3-PT loss at home to Philly: where does that 76ers team (who won a then-record 68 regular season games) rank among the greatest teams that you ever saw? There is no question that they were a really good team but we still could have beaten them in that series. Rick Barry never let me forget the time that we ran a pick-and-roll and instead of passing to him and I ended up taking a shot that was blocked by Wilt. I will say to my dying day that it was goaltending but the refs did not call it that way. I could kind of negate what Wilt was doing, which left us in a 4-on-4. By “negate” I am not saying that I could stop him, but I could at least bring down his output.

In February 1969 you set a record that stood for over a decade by playing all 63 minutes of a 3-OT 5-PT win over the Lakers: how on earth were you able to play the whole game without taking a rest? I was the kind of guy who once I started the season and had 10-15 games under my belt I was in shape and could play a whole game. I perfected the art of learning when I could take a breather. Occasionally I would not go as hard on the offensive boards as a I could have but I would do my thing on the defensive boards. When I was playing with Wilt I remember that he played almost every minute of the entire season and that is the mentality I looked to have. After Wilt left our team had no money left for a good backup center so I did not look to go to the bench.

After being traded to Chicago in September 1974 you had 22 PTS/14 REB/13 AST/career-high 12 BLK in your Bulls’ debut (a 5-PT OT win over Atlanta), becoming the 1st player in NBA history to officially record a quadruple-double: how big a deal was it at the time, and were you worried that you had raised the bar too high for your new fans? At the time nobody knew: if my recollection was right it was not even discovered until 2-3 days later! I was trying to prove to the Warriors that they had made a mistake by trading me after I spent 11 years with them. I did raise the bar too high because I was not used to that offense: standing at the foul line and feeding our forwards was not the best use of my talents.

You were named to the All-Defensive team 5 times in a 6-year span from 1969-1974: what was your secret for being a great defender? In high school our coach evaluated us by how we played man-to-man defense: if I scored 20 PTS but my opposing center outscored me then I was a liability to our team. I was not always the highest scorer out there but very seldom did I let my opponent outscore me. My senior year I remember playing in a pro-am game against Bill Russell, who said that it is demoralizing to your opponent if you can score on him and he cannot score on you.

Puppet Ramblings: The “Bathroom Law” Boycott Will Accomplish Nothing!

For starters, I don’t like it when sports, particularly college sports, are used as a political tool by political leaders who have nothing to do with sports.  I obviously college basketball, but I also love international soccer.  If anything, it is refreshing to be able to not harp on your different political ideologies, but rather set them all aside and collectively enjoy something that belongs to all of us.  This is definitely true with international soccer, but I feel that it is true for all levels of sport, including college basketball.  Given the current climate of this country, we need more shared experiences, not less of them, and for better or worse, sport appears to be one of the vehicles where we can have a shared experience with people who have very different views and opinions, but during that experience feel like we are the same.

I need to say that we, as a staff, do not like to talk politics on Hoops HD.  This is not a political site.  Although we all have political opinions, we do not express them here or use this site as a vehicle for our own political ideologies.  I am not writing this as an attempt to change or criticize anyone’s political viewpoints or opinions, but rather to criticize the methods New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has chosen to use in response to the HB2 laws (ie the Bathroom Laws) in North Carolina.  More specifically, the impact those methods have on the college basketball programs in the state of New York (and Albany in particular), as well as college basketball as a whole.

This past March, Governor Cuomo issued an executive order banning all state sponsored non-essential travel to the state of North Carolina.  He did this, presumably, because he felt that the HB2 laws were discriminatory toward the LBGTQ community and wanted to disassociate himself from that discrimination.  Is this nothing more than disingenuous political posturing on his part??  I don’t know.  Does he actually think this will be effective??  I don’t know.  Did he ever consider how it was possibly unfair not just to the intercollegiate teams in the state of New York, but to the people in the state of North Carolina who strongly oppose the HB2 laws??  I don’t know.  I don’t know what is in his heart or in his head, so I won’t even try and guess.  I will say this, though….

This method is both unfair and ineffective.  Albany was scheduled to open the upcoming college basketball season at Duke, and has now been made to back out of the game.  The only people that are really directly impacted by this are the players and coaches on both teams, and none of them had anything to do with the HB2 laws.  In addition to that, Duke is a private institution, so it is not tied to the state of North Carolina.  Not only that, but as an institution Duke was strongly opposed to the HB2 laws.  I fail to see how not allowing Albany’s basketball team to play at Duke, which is a private institution that opposes the HB2 laws, will do anything change the laws.  If anything, I think that going there and playing the game would create an assembly of people where the vast majority of them also oppose the law, so in a way not going to play the game results in less opposition to the Bathroom Laws, not more of it.

STATEMENT FROM DUKE “DEPLORING IN THE STRONGEST POSSIBLE TERMS” THE HB2 LAWS

Taking this a step further, in addition to Duke being strongly opposed to the laws as you can read in the link above, it is my understanding the majority of the people in the state of North Carolina are opposed to the laws as well.  So, what is accomplished by disassociating yourself with them??  What is accomplished by deciding not to engage them in an inclusive and shared experience such as a sporting event??  I understand not liking bigotry.  I also feel that if you want to combat bigotry, then alienating people who are not bigots (which the vast majority of college students and student-athletes are not), but happen to live in a state with laws that you feel are bigoted, is not the way to go about it.  Rock & Roll, Soul, and R&B acts that toured the Deep South during the Civil Rights Movement accomplished a lot more than they would have by boycotting those states.  Seriously, if Governor Cuomo genuinely feels opposed to the HB2 laws and isn’t just doing this for political posturing, then why isn’t he ENCOURAGING the New York college teams to go to a place like Duke who is also openly opposed to them??  This boycott is unfair.  This boycott is ineffective.  And, to take it a step further, this boycott is arguably COUNTER-productive.  How so??  Well….

We’ve seen sports boycotts before.  The 1980 and 1984 Olympics comes to mind.  I cannot think of a single example where a sports boycott had any sort of a meaningful impact.  Not one.  Now, having said that, I can think of multiple examples of where NOT boycotting had HUGE impacts.  Jessie Owens did not boycott.  Tommy Smith and John Carlos did not boycott.  If you’ve ever seen the movie Invictus, Nelson Mandela seemed to do the exact opposite of a boycott.  Like I said at the beginning, sports allow us to have shared experiences with people that are different than us, and during that event make us the same.  In many cases, it may be the only time we feel that we are the same.  Is that bad??  I sure as hell don’t think so.  If anything, we need more of that, not less of it.  You’re not going to change peoples’ hearts and minds by ignoring them.  You have to engage them.  You have to find common ground.  And, sport IS  common ground.  It’s one of the few common grounds that we have.  It is a shame that there aren’t more, but at least sports gives us something

So, Governor Cuomo, please, keep your political differences out of college sports.  Do not be unfair to the individual student-athletes who played no political roll in the HB2 laws, and who probably disagree with the laws themselves.  Do not deny people with different political viewpoints and ideologies the chance to have a shared experience with one another.  Sports brings us together, and it will do more to make us better than it will to make us worse.  This boycott will accomplish nothing.

Going for the gold: HoopsHD interviews U18 basketball player Markelle Fultz

We are only in the middle of summer but Markelle Fultz has already had a year to remember. In February he was named 1st-team All-Washington Catholic Athletic Conference at DeMatha High School. In March he scored 10 PTS in the McDonald’s All-American Game and in April he set a Nike Hoop Summit record with 5 STL in a win over the World Select team. Earlier this week he was 1 of 12 players named to the final roster for team USA in preparation for the FIBA Americas U18 championship, and next week he travels to Chile to try to win a gold medal. HoopsHD’s Jon Teitel got to chat with Markelle before he heads abroad, and this fall you can see him try to help the Washington Huskies get back to the NCAA tourney for the 1st time since 2011.

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After playing on the JV team as a sophomore at DeMatha Catholic High School you grew 3” and became 1 of the top players in class of 2016: was the growth spurt the key or has your all-around game just improved a ton over the past 2 years? It was more of a confidence thing and I made my game more versatile.

Your team was loaded: how did you like playing with guys like DJ Harvey (the 1st freshman since Adrian Dantley in 1969 to start for DeMatha’s varsity team from day 1)? I knew that if I passed it to somebody they would make a shot or get to the rim.

After getting scholarship offers from several great programs (Arizona/Louisville/Maryland/Georgetown) you committed last August to play at Washington and said, “The main reason I am going to Washington is my connection with Coach Romar”: how long have you known him, and what kind of connection do you 2 have? I have known him since I started playing JV. He is like a father figure who looks after me and hopes for the best for me.

In the 2016 McDonald’s All American Game you had 10 PTS/6 AST for the East in a 7-PT loss to the West: which of your teammates impressed you the most? I was cool with everybody out there on both teams: I got along with everyone.

At the 2016 Nike Hoop Summit you set a record with 5 STL in 18 minutes in a 101-67 win over the World Select team: how did you like playing with 4 guys who are going to Duke (Marques Bolden/Harry Giles/Frank Jackson/Jayson Tatum) and how good are the Blue Devils going to be next season? They are very talented players and it was fun to play with them. We got along very well and they will be very good if they play together and do what Coach K tells them to do.

Last year Coach Romar’s recruiting class was ranked among the best in the nation but 2 of his freshmen were picked in the 1st round of last month’s NBA draft (Marquese Chriss/Dejounte Murray): are you entering college with an idea about how long you want to stay or are there certain factors along the way that will affect that decision? My goal is just to help the Huskies get back to the NCAA tourney. I am not worried about the NBA right now and will just take it day by day: if I feel like I am ready after 1 year then I will look at my options.

You are 6’5” and have a 6’9” wingspan: which position did you play in high school and which position will you feel most comfortable at in college? I played the 1 in high school and think I will play the 1 in college, but I feel comfortable at any position.

You have given a lot of credit to your trainer Keith Williams, whom you have worked with for more than half of your life: what aspect of your game has he helped you with the most, and are you worried about flying 3000 miles away from him? Keith helped me with my entire game and taught me everything that I know, but I am confident enough to be on my own because he trained me so well and still sends me videos so that I can keep improving.

Next week you will play for team USA at the FIBA Americas U18 championship in Chile: how do you like playing for Coach Shaka Smart and what did it mean to you to make the final cut earlier this week? It is always an honor to represent your country. Shaka gets everyone involved and is very enthusiastic so we will just try to go down there and win a gold medal.

You previously said that you want to be an accountant: is it just so that you can count your own money if you make the NBA or have you always been into numbers or what?! I have always been good at math and if I make it to the NBA I want to be able to look after my money myself.  If I do not end up playing pro basketball then I can still use my degree to have a good job.

Countdown to Rio: HoopsHD interviews 1972 Olympic assistant coach Johnny Bach

Next up on our list of Olympic memories is Johnny Bach, who led a very full life before he passed away last January at age 91.  After playing for the Celtics he became head coach at his alma mater of Fordham for 18 years before spending another decade as head coach at Penn State.  In the summer of 1972 he was named an assistant under Hank Iba for team USA and made it all the way to the gold medal game before losing 1 of the most controversial games in the history of the sport.  He later joined the Chicago Bulls as an assistant coach in 1986 and was on the sideline for 3 straight titles from 1991-1993.  Jon Teitel got to chat with Coach Bach a few years ago about all of his amazing accomplishments and presents the previously unpublished interview below for the very 1st time.  We send our condolences to all of Johnny’s family/friends on their loss, and if you would like to learn more about the 1972 Olympic team we recommend the book “Stolen Glory” by Mike Brewster and Donald “Taps” Gallagher: www.amazon.com/Stolen-Glory-Soviet-Olympic-Basketball-ebook/dp/B008P0IROI

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In 1948 you were selected by Boston in the BAA draft and played 24 games for them: what is your favorite memory from your time with the Celtics? Just getting together with some old pros like Mel Riebe who are long forgotten but were a big part of the NBA. We had an energetic college coach (Hall of Famer Doggie Julian) and like many people he had some good moments and bad moments. He was succeeded by Red Auerbach. It was a new experience for me after serving in the Navy. There were only 8 teams back then and we mostly took the train/bus: we only flew once.

In 1950 you became 1 of the nation’s youngest head coaches when you got hired by Fordham: what was it like to compete against John Wooden in an effort to recruit high school star Lew Alcindor? We had no chance! I later talked to Kareem and realized that he had a number of offers and had made his decision much earlier than I thought. I asked him why he chose UCLA: he said that it was because 1 of his heroes (Jackie Robinson) went there. His family guarded him really well.

What are your memories of the 1954 NCAA tourney (future Hall of Famer Tom Gola scored 28 PTS in a 2-PT OT win by eventual champion La Salle)? I will never forget that game. We played them as well as anyone that year. I remember saying how we wanted to keep everyone in front of us but we got beat on a backdoor play after we had the game won. It was a bitter blow and a huge disappointment but we resolved to never get beat on backdoor plays again.

In the 1968 NIT you had a 1-PT loss to eventual champion Dayton after Frank McLaughlin missed a 25-footer at the buzzer: did you think the shot was going in? We played a very fine game at Madison Square Garden. I watched Frank play for 4 years at Fordham Prep: he was a good student and all-city shooter. He just missed the shot: it was not as painful as some of our earlier losses.

In 1969 you left Fordham to become coach at Penn State, joining your fellow Brown alum Joe Paterno: what made Paterno such a great coach, and what made him such a good friend? Joe and I both played for Coach Rip Engle: I played basketball while Joe played football. Rip was 1 of my idols as a coach and I loved playing for him. He had a great heart and was so happy when we won. Money was tight at Fordham, especially for the athletic program.

You served as an assistant coach under Hank Iba for team USA at the 1972 Olympics in Munich: how devastating was the infamous 1-PT loss to the USSR in the gold medal game, and what was the feeling like in your locker room afterward? Don Haskins had already been selected as 1 assistant but Coach Iba insisted to the selection committee that I be his 2nd assistant. I had done a little scouting of the USSR. I was lucky to learn from coaching legends such as Joe Lapchick/Pete Newell. The loss is still burned into my heart and the agony is still there. We all met up for the 40th anniversary a few summers ago and we still felt like we were robbed. I delivered the message from FIBA Secretary General Dr. Jones at the scorer’s table that we had been asked to either put our team back on the floor or forfeit the gold medal: Iba said that we would not lose the gold while sitting on our asses! Haskins was vehement that we should walk away and go back to the locker room. It is my most bitter memory in basketball: the game was won and then they got another chance…and then another chance.

In 1986 you joined the Chicago Bulls as an assistant and ended up winning 3 straight titles under Phil Jackson from 1991-1993: what made Jackson such a great coach, and what was the most important thing you ever learned from him? He was a different animal who approached coaching in a far different way. He had good coaching mentors in Bill Fitch/Red Holzman. He saw a lot but would not react to it. For example, I would tell him to call a timeout if the other team made a nice run but he would say that our team would be unable to learn how to deal with the situation if we did that. He would bring in the most celebrated people to talk to us like Jerry Garcia/Bill Bradley. He was unique, which is why they kept offering him millions to come back!

In Game 3 of the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals Scottie Pippen refused to re-enter the game with 1.8 seconds left because Jackson would not run the final play for him, so rookie Toni Kukoc ended up making the game-winning 23-foot fade-away jumper at the buzzer: where does that rank among the most clutch shots that you ever saw, and did you feel that Pippen deserved to be forgiven? I felt we would be making a great mistake to say that Pippen was not fit to play for us. I was sent to tell him to go back onto the floor, but he told me to put someone else in. It was a terrible mistake on his part but I still talked to him more than almost any other player on that team.

Take me through a few of Michael Jordan’s best plays:
In Game 2 of the 1991 Finals Jordan famously switched hands in mid-air on a drive to the hoop: where did that rank among the most amazing plays that you have ever seen? From the time he arrived he would do that in practice. Nothing he did surprised me: he was the hardest worker I have ever seen and the meanest competitor even in practice. I recall many a time when I would tell him to lay off a rookie like Pete Myers and he would say, “I have to play tomorrow night and he doesn’t!” Phil was the master of motivation: he often had Michael practice with the 2nd team against the rest of the starters. Phil was able to reach Michael in a way most people could not have. The losing team in the scrimmage would have to run and Michael hated to do that.

In Game 1 of the 1992 Finals he scored 35 PTS in the 1st half (including a then-record six 3-PT shots): was it just 1 of those scenarios where every shot he put up seemed to go in because he was “in the zone”? You can see the look in his eyes when he looked into the cameras, implying that he just could not miss. Phil would have us get rid of the money from the fines that had been collected by putting it on the ground and saying, “shoot for it”. Michael won the money a lot of times: that is just who he is. I was fortunate to be around him as a coach. I edited a lot of tape in my day and would occasionally add scenes from movies like “An Officer and a Gentleman”: Michael loved that.

He invited you to his Hall of Fame induction dinner in 2009 and then decided to pay for everything himself (airfare/hotel/etc.): what was Jordan like off the court, and what did that gesture mean to you? He did some of the kindest things I have ever seen, such as meeting with every terminally ill kid whose last wish was to meet Jordan. He would bring them into the locker room and have them sit with our team on the bench. He is an easily misunderstood guy who does a lot of things that people do not hear about. I could not afford to attend the dinner so he just sent me the tickets out of the blue.

After retiring in 2006 you became a volunteer assistant for the varsity team at Fenwick High School working with coach John Quinn (the brother of Illinois governor Pat Quinn): how do you like the gig, and what is the biggest difference between coaching high school kids vs. coaching NBA players? There is a huge talent difference and sometimes a huge attitude difference as well. When you have a kid taking 8 classes a day you really have to push them in order to have a do-or-die attitude in practice. I am always on them for not practicing hard enough and not studying hard enough for their exams: I enjoy yelling at them!