Happy Tourney-versary!: HoopsHD interviews Hall of Fame coach Dale Brown

With the 2018 NCAA tourney tipping off next month, we will spend this month taking a walk down memory lane with a choice collection of coaches who are celebrating an awesome anniversary this year. From an upset of the top-ranked team in the country in the 1958 tourney (60th anniversary) through a 12 vs. 5 upset in the 2013 tourney (5th anniversary), these legends have all carved out a little piece of history in past Marches. We continue our series with former LSU coach Dale Brown. He became coach of the Tigers in 1972 and retired 25 years later with 238 SEC wins (which trails only Adolph Rupp) and a pair of Final 4 appearances.  HoopsHD’s Jon Teitel got to chat with Coach Brown about the 25th anniversary of losing a buzzer-beater to Jason Kidd as well as being a 2-time national COY.

As a senior at St. Leo’s High School in Minot, ND, you posted the highest scoring average in state basketball history, then became the only person to earn 12 varsity letters (in football/basketball/track) at Minot State Teacher’s College: what did it mean to you to be named 1 of the top 50 North Dakota athletes of the 20th century by Sports Illustrated? It meant a lot to me.  I love North Dakota and was dear friends with a lot of great people from our humble state: Lawrence Welk, Roger Maris, Lute Olson, etc.

You were nicknamed “The Master Motivator”: what was your secret for being able to motivate your players? When I was hired at Utah State to be their chief recruiter I tried to figure out the best way to recruit players. I told the parents I met that I was there to recruit their son as a student 1st and as a basketball player 2nd. When I coached I tried not to be evangelistic: I just spoke from my heart. I did not have any gimmick motivations: just true stories that I told to try to make people better. There is so much negativity in the world today so I tried each day to pass on a positive motivational message.

In February 1978 as head coach at LSU, Rudy Macklin scored 23 PTS (11-12 FG) in a 1-PT OT win over Kentucky: how on earth were you able to beat the eventual NCAA tourney champs after all 5 of your starters fouled out?! That was a turning point for LSU basketball. They say that records are made to be broken but that one will never be broken. At the postgame press conference I said that we no longer had “substitutes”: we had “reinforcements”! When I look back at that game I honestly never thought that we were not going to win.

In the 1981 NCAA tourney Jeff Lamp scored 25 PTS in a 4-PT win by Virginia in the last-ever 3rd-place game, which was delayed following the assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan: did you feel that the game should have been delayed, and what did you tell your team to try and keep them focused? I told them the truth: it was the most meaningless game I have ever coached in my life. It was typical greed by the NCAA to have a 3rd-place game that was just for money: you notice that they do not have a 3rd-place game nowadays. I did not really want to play that game.

Take me through the 1986 NCAA tourney (where you became the 1st #11-seed to make the Final 4):
You had to overcome a variety of obstacles just to get to the tourney (injuries, academics, and even the chicken pox): what made your “Freak Defense” so effective? I coached at a very small school where the biggest guy on my team was 6’2”, and we got crushed by Williston High School and a huge center (and future NBA legend) they had named Phil Jackson . I read “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu and it inspired me to fool around with a bunch of different defenses: I figured our only chance of winning was via the art of deception. We would play different defenses based on where the offense would attack the basket, but it only works if you have guys with good heads on their shoulders. Someone asked Coach John Chaney about it 1 time and he said the only “freak” he ever saw was in an alley in Philly!

Each of your 5 starters scored in double-digits and played at least 44 minutes in a 7-PT 2-OT win over Purdue: how much of a home-court advantage did you have while playing in your own gym? The women still do it but I think it is absolutely ridiculous: it was a tremendous advantage. I think Purdue coach Gene Keady was the catalyst in getting tourney games changed to neutral sites.

Anthony Wilson scored 6 PTS including a bank shot at the buzzer in a 2-PT win over Memphis State: where does that rank among the most clutch shots that you have ever seen? A couple of years later Tiger Stadium hosted the famous “Earthquake Game” (LSU beat Auburn 7-6 in 1988 after QB Tommy Hodson completed an 11-yard TD pass to Eddie Fuller on 4th down in the final 2 minutes, and the resulting crowd reaction registered as an earthquake on a seismograph located in LSU’s Howe-Russell Geoscience Complex). I called our Assembly Center the “Death Dome”: people just roared after Anthony made his impossible shot.

Don Redden scored 15 PTS in a 2-PT win over #1-seed Kentucky: how were you able to beat the Wildcats after they had already beaten you 3 times in the previous 2 months? We used the “Freak Defense” quite often that night. Kenny Walker was really difficult to neutralize and had a great game but we just kept on believing.

In the 1987 NCAA tourney Dean Garrett had 17 PTS/15 REB in a 1-PT win by eventual-champion Indiana: did you think the refs called it fairly after Coach Bob Knight went nuts in the 1st half (the Hoosiers ended up with a 24-10 advantage at the FT line)? I was going to try to be Mr. Cool while Coach Knight was doing his thing (which was a major mistake on my part), but I really think it choked up the officials and the game was called differently from that point on.

In the 1988 NCAA tourney Charles Smith scored 10 PTS including a 30-footer off the glass at the buzzer in a 3-PT win by Georgetown: where does that rank among the most devastating losses of your career? It looked like that shot was going over the backboard but instead it hit the top of the backboard and then swished through.  It was a heartbreaker but a stimulant to never forget how far our program has come.

In January 1989 Ricky Blanton made a layup at the buzzer in a 2-PT win over 2nd-ranked Georgetown in the Superdome: what was it like to win in front of the largest crowd at the time to ever watch a regular season basketball game (54,321 people)? It was the CBS game of the week. We had 5 players who did not qualify that year due to Prop 48 so we were really shorthanded. Ricky was probably one of our biggest players on the floor as we faced a pair of 7-footers in Alonzo Mourning/Dikembe Mutombo. CBS called me about canceling the game earlier that year because we were a 12-PT underdog but I told them that I did want them to do us any favors. I knew they were going to double-team Chris Jackson and somehow Blanton put it in at the end of the game.

In December 1991 Shaquille O’Neal had 43 PTS/19 REB/8 BLK as your team scored an SEC-record 159 PTS in a win over NAU: how did you recruit Shaq to Baton Rouge, and where does he rank among the greatest players you have ever seen? I met Shaq in Germany after I was talking with some of our troops and he asked me to show him some exercises. I thought that he was in the service but he grinned and told me that he was just 13 years old! I wrote him every week and he wrote me back after getting cut from his high school team. I told him to sincerely try to do his best and that God would eventually take care of things. He got better every single year from college to the pros: there was no decline in his game until he got hurt and he was easy to coach. I think that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Walton were 2 of the best college centers of all time.  I had both of them come to LSU and work out with Shaq for a few days.

In the 1993 NCAA tourney freshman Jason Kidd scored 16 PTS including a spinning layup with 1 second left in a 2-PT win by Cal: could you tell at the time that Kidd was going to become a superstar? I did not, although I recruited Kidd out of high school. We had the defense set up to stop him but he went right around everyone and made a magnificent play to win the game.

You were a 2-time national COY: what did it mean to you to win such outstanding honors? The 1st time they presented me the trophy on the court in Philly and I thought that if I could do it then anyone could do it.

You have been a long-time critic of the NCAA: what have they improved on in the 2 decades since you retired, and what do they need to keep working on in the future? I was a critic because I saw the monumental hypocrisy that they preached and how they legislated against human dignity. I sent in 40 or so suggested rule changes, many of which have since become part of the rule book. They investigated us for 4 years and they did not find anything we did wrong. How can you follow a 450-page rule book: it is almost as long as Obamacare! I am hoping that NCAA president Mark Emmert can be a beacon along a very dark path. Frank Deford once described the NCAA as the largest legal cartel in the world.

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News, Notes, Highlighted Games, and an Explanation on Where We’ve Been: Thursday, Feb 22nd

NEWS AND NOTES

-Things are starting to get back to normal at Hoops HD.  We were hacked.  That’s why things have been rather crazy around here.  I want to apologize to anyone who was redirected to a website that they certainly didn’t intend to go to and also to anyone who attempted shared links to our content, and then had to deal with those who clicked on those links and were taken to a website that they did not want to go to.  There will likely continue to be changes in the next few days, and we will be slowly working to restore some of the content that was lost.  I particularly want to thank Galen Clavio from Crimson Cast who also works as our webmaster, and who went into all out Superman mode to try and get this resolved.

The people who contribute to this website all do a lot of work.  Whether it’s helping out with the daily write ups, or appearing on the podcasts, or calculating the rankings for all 351 div1 teams, or posting bracketology, or doing interviews, or any number of things, the amount of work that our contributors do for absolutely no other reason than that they enjoy doing it is astounding.  Because of that, you certainly hate when something like this happens and that they aren’t able to share their work.  This is not a business.  It’s more of a playground for a group of friends that really enjoy college basketball.  Some people play fantasy sports, or online video games, or Dungeons and Dragons, or whatever.  This website is what we do.  When someone comes and takes a dump in the middle of your playground it’s rather annoying, but we are doing our best to get it cleaned up and keep it cleaned up.

-Well, we aren’t the only ones that had a bad day.  Louisville had a worse one.  In about a 24 hour period they were stripped of a national title, an additional Final Four, five additional NCAA Tournament wins, and they were then completely dump trucked by Duke.  Louisville is squarely on the bubble, and right now I’d say their chances of getting in are less than fifty percent.  What’s worse is that depending on how this FBI stuff plays out, it may be a while before they’re eligible to be in the NCAA Tournament again.

-Seton Hall and Providence had their game postponed due to slick floor conditions that made the court unsafe.  They also play hockey in that building and the condensation on the floor made it too wet.  The game will be finished this afternoon.  Seton Hall leads by 9 early in the second half.

-Texas Tech, who I thought was a #1 seed caliber team, did not look like it at all yesterday.  It’s tough to win at Oklahoma State, but it is the kind of game you’d expect a protected seed, let alone a #1 seed, to be able to win most of the time.  They now fall back in the Big Twelve Standings and Kansas is still closer to winning it again.

-Virginia Tech picked up another nice win as they knocked off Clemson at home.  Clemson is still in good shape, but they have been on a bit of a slide.

-Penn State REALLY needed to beat Michigan at home last night.  Penn State did not beat Michigan at home last night.  It was a nice road win for the Wolverines, and it puts Penn State in a position where they probably need the auto-bid to make the field.

-People try and act like Georgia is a bubble team.  At times Georgia tries to act like Georgia is a bubble team.  They certainly didn’t look like it last night as they fell at South Carolina.

-TCU picked up a really nice and pivotal road win at Iowa State.  Their overall resume looks pretty good, and they are now 7-8 in a very tough Big 12 conference.

-It may be time for Texas to start sweating.  They fell to Kansas State yesterday and are now just 6-9 in Big 12 play and have a rather schizophrenic resume.

-Vermont clinched first place and home court advantage for the America East Tournament with their win over Binghamton.

HIGHLIGHTED GAMES

-PURDUE AT ILLINOIS (Big Ten).  Purdue is cruising toward a protected seed and should get it if they can hold serve in their last two regular season games.

-UCONN AT CINCINNATI (American).  Cincinnati had a rough week last week and has lost their last two, but relatively speaking they’re still in really good shape and will remain that way so long as they hold serve the rest of the way.

-GONZAGA AT SAN DIEGO (West Coast).  I think Gonzaga can end up as a protected seed if they win out, which they are certainly good enough to do.

-ARIZONA AT OREGON STATE (Pac Twelve).  This Arizona team is not without its deficiencies, but they are still really good overall and can still end up as a protected seed.  Hell, they’re good enough to win out through the Pac Twelve Tournament and cause some damage in the NCAAs after that.

-HOUSTON AT MEMPHIS (American).  Houston is in the rankings and moving further and further up our seed list.

-WASHINGTON AT STANDFORD (Pac Twelve).  Washington is outside our bubble, but could still end up making the field with a strong finish and showing in the Pac Twelve Tournament.

-UCLA AT UTAH (Pac Twelve).  This is a very bubblicious game for both teams.  Both need to come into this with a huge sense of urgency.

-PEPPERDINE AT SAINT MARY’S (West Coast).  SMC’s overall profile is weak.  They’ve only got one really good win, and that is the win at Gonzaga.  Still,they should cruise into the tournament if they’re able to win out.

-ARIZONA STATE AT OREGON (Pac Twelve).  Arizona State is relatively safe, but this would still be a nice game to win since it would look nice on their resume.

UNDER THE RADAR

-WINTHROP AT UNC ASHEVILLE (Big South).  This is a hugely important game as both teams are tied at the top of the Big South standings, and the first place team will host the conference tournament.

-SOUTH DAKOTA AT SOUTH DAKOTA STATE (Summit).  This one is big because first place is on the line, and big because it is a rivalry, but in the grand scheme of the things it doesn’t mean much on paper.  The conference tournament is at a predetermined site, which is fortunately in South Dakota, and it’s what happens in that tournament that matters.  But, it should be a fun game tonight!

-ELON AT CHARLESTON (Colonial). Charleston is getting closer and closer to clinching first place in the Colonial.

-RIDER AT MONMOUTH (Metro Atlantic).  Rider can clinch at least a share of first place with a win tonight.

-OLD DOMINION AT MARSHALL (Conference USA).  Middle Tennessee has gotten most of the accolades from CUSA this year, and Western Kentucky has gotten all of the rest, but Old Dominion has had a very good season as well and still has a shot at ending up in first place.

-LOUISIANA AT TROY (Sun Belt).  Louisiana can clinch at least a share of first place with a win tonight.

-MURRAY STATE AT EASTERN ILLINOIS (Ohio Valley).  Murray is locked in to a first place tie with Belmont.  Both have already earned byes into the semis of the conference tournament.

-BELMONT AT JACKSONVILLE STATE (Ohio Valley)(.  Belmont is locked into a first place tie with Murray.  Both have already earned double byes into the semis of the conference tournament.

-CHICAGO STATE AT NEW MEXICO STATE (WAC).  New Mexico State will need the auto bid to make the field, but their next two games are winnable and they’ll clinch first place if they can pick both of them up.

-UC SANTA BARBARA AT UC IRVINE (Big West).  UCSB is coming off a rather surprisingly decisive home loss to UC Davis, but is still in first place by a game.

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Under the Radar: February 21st

AUDIO COMING LATER

This is our final UTR Podcast of the season.  We go a little long, but there was a lot to get to as we look at all the teams who have either clinched first place, or are on the verge of clinching first place, and what all of the upcoming games mean to the upcoming conference tournaments.  We also look at Grambling in the SWAC, who has the longest current winning streak in all of college basketball, and we close with our UTR Top Ten

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News, Notes, and Highlighted Games: Tuesday, Feb 6th

For Chad Sherwood’s UTR Game of the Day featuring Penn/Princeton – CLICK HERE

For this week’s Hoops HD Report podcast – CLICK HERE

For our colleague Rocco Miller’s latest weekly bracket – CLICK HERE

For Jon Teitel’s interview with Jack Powers (re: Ken Norton) – CLICK HERE

NEWS AND NOTES

-Last night featured the second matchup of West Virginia and Oklahoma. The Mountaineers raced out to a 50-40 lead at halftime and were able to overcome a late Sooner rally to get a much-needed road win. Press Virginia held the Sooners over 20 points below what they averaged at home. Trae Young had a big night in terms of points scored, but he was shut out in the assist column.

-Syracuse also got a desperately needed win on the road at Louisville last night. It’s the kind of game that puts the Orange closer to the bubble and also brings the Cards down to the bubble themselves. Louisville does have a significant win at Florida State on their profile, but they are now stuck in neutral after consecutive home losses to the Noles and Syracuse.

HIGHLIGHTED GAMES

-XAVIER AT BUTLER (Big East).  Butler, while not ranked, is a very impressive 12-1 at home, and that includes a win over top ranked Villanova.  They’ve also won four games in a row, all by double digits, and are playing their best basketball of the year.  Xavier is on the fringe of the #1 line, but they’ve had to sweat out their last two games, and neither team was in the same universe as Butler, so this is going to be a huge test for the Muskies.

-UCF AT CINCINNATI (American).  Cincinnati keeps winning.  That’s all they can do.  They should end up as a protected seed if they win out, which I think they are good enough to do.

-TENNESSEE AT KENTUCKY (SEC).  Both teams are in the rankings and both are competing for protected seeds.  Tennessee won the first meeting, but winning this one on the road would be even bigger and solidify an already solid profile even more.  Kentucky is coming off a loss to Missouri and is looking to rebound.  After looking amazing in the final 25 minutes of their game at West Virginia, Kentucky has struggled in their last two games.

-MICHIGAN AT NORTHWESTERN (Big Ten).  Michigan is solidly in the top half of the bracket and can add another road win to their resume tonight.

-SOUTH CAROLINA AT ARKANSAS (SEC).  Arkansas needs to be sweating a little bit.  There is certainly time to play their way into safety, but they’re just 4-6 in league play, and many of the games they lost were to teams that you’d expect a solid NCAA team to be able to beat.  Tonight they’re at home in yet another game that you would expect a solid tournament team to be able to win.

-ALABAMA AT MISSISSIPPI STATE (SEC).  Mississippi State is in all likelihood an NIT team unless they absolutely thunder down the stretch, but they are 14-1 at home, so if the committee is paying attention (and in recent years there have been times where I wondered whether or not they were) this would be a really nice win for Alabama if they’re able to pick it up.

-BUFFALO AT CENTRAL MICHIGAN (MAC).  Buffalo isn’t likely to get into the NCAAs without the auto-bid, but with such a healthy RPI they should at least stay on the board if they win out, and if they are then you never know for sure.

-BOSTON COLLEGE AT NOTRE DAME (ACC). BC kept a glimmer of light alive with an OT win at home against Georgia Tech on Sunday. If they can win this one on the road, it will all but turn out the lights for Notre Dame until the ACC Tournament.

-BAYLOR AT OKLAHOMA STATE (Big 12).  Okie State just got the big win at Kansas.  Their chances aren’t zero, but they need to string together some wins if they want to end up on the right side of the bubble.

-GEORGETOWN AT PROVIDENCE (Big East).  Providence has been solid at home all year long and is well on pace to make the NCAA Tournament if they’re able to continue to hold serve.  A win tonight gets them to 7-4 in league play. However, Georgetown made Creighton sweat a little at their place and made Xavier sweat bullets before losing both games.

-MICHIGAN STATE AT IOWA (Big Ten).  This should be an easy win for Michigan State, and it will improve them to an impressive 5-1 on the year in true road games, and 9-2 overall away from home.

-TCU AT KANSAS (Big 12).  I don’t know where to begin with this.  I’m sitting here trying to think about how to evaluate Kansas, who loses at home more than on the road.  Do you give teams like TCU less credit if they win at Kansas than you would if they were to beat Kansas at home?  Kansas has five losses on the season, and inexplicably four of them have come at home.  TCU is sliding closer and closer to the bubble, but as of now they are still well within it.  A win today would certainly help because a loss drops them to 3 games below .500 in league play, and they’d be just 3-7 in their last ten games.  But, they’re on the road at Kansas, so they have a chance!!

-WICHITA STATE AT MEMPHIS (American).  To say Wichita State is in trouble is completely overstating things, but it would be in their best interest to not lose any more games to sub-tournament caliber teams.

-NEBRASKA AT MINNESOTA (Big Ten).  Nebraska can play their way onto the bubble if they win out, but minus beating a heavyweight in the Big Ten Tournament I don’t think they can play their way into a position where they are so far inside it that they’re completely safe.

-MISSOURI AT OLE MISS (SEC).  Missouri is on the bubble, and winning road games against non-tournament caliber teams would be a good thing.  Ole Miss, while not a tourney team, can still be very tough to beat at home.

-COLORADO STATE AT AIR FORCE (Mountain West, Front Range). Highlighted because we love the Front Range!

-BOISE STATE AT NEW MEXICO (Mountain West).  Boise State is squarely on the bubble as it is, and any loss would be very damaging.

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Under the Radar Game of the Day: Penn at Princeton

Penn at Princeton, 6:00 PM Eastern, ESPNU

When it comes to great college basketball rivalries, especially for us Under the Radar fans, Duke and North Carolina is an afterthought.  The Rivalry of all Rivalries is the one in the Ivy League between Penn and Princeton.  Tonight, at 6:00 PM Eastern on national TV, these two teams will be matching up for the 239th time, with Penn looking to extend its 125-113 series lead.  To put this Rivalry in context, from 1963 to 2007, one of these two teams took the Ivy League crown in all but two seasons.  Although Penn has the series lead, Princeton currently has a 26 to 25 lead in Ivy League titles.  And, in not much of a surprise, these teams once again look like two of the best in the conference.

Penn enters tonight’s game at 5-0 in Ivy League play and 15-6 overall.  The Quakers are coming off a home win over Yale on Saturday, as four different players scored in double figures.  One of Penn’s most notable wins all season (other than the 4 overtime thriller over Monmouth) came back on December 27 when 15 players scored points, including an NCAA record 10 players that hit at least one three-pointer in a blowout win over Delaware State.  AJ Brodeur is the player that Princeton probably has to key in on tonight, as he has pulled down at least 8 rebounds in every Ivy League game so far and is capable of putting up big scoring numbers, such as the 30 he scored earlier this season against Columbia.

Princeton enters tonight’s rivalry game at 3-2 in league games and 11-9 overall, though the Tigers hold perhaps the biggest win for Ivy league teams this season when they won at USC, 103-93 in overtime, back in December.  The Tigers are coming off of a tough 102-100 overtime loss to Brown on Saturday, after slipping by Yale Friday night 76-73 in overtime as well.  Five Tigers were in double figures in Saturday’s loss, led by 27 from Devin Cannady and 23 from Myles Stephens.  Amir Bell was one rebound short of a double-double in the loss, and did have one in Friday night’s win.  The Tigers will need another strong effort from their key players tonight if they want to pull within a game of first place and avenge a 76-70 loss at Penn back in early January.

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The Hoops HD Report: February 5th

This week, we begin by discussing the three-on-three tournament taking place at the Final Four this year where each of the 32 conferences will be represented by a team of four.  We also discuss whether Villanova or Virginia is the nation’s top team, and then look at the ACC and talk about how Louisville is slumping and Syracuse is suddenly looking up.  In the Big East, we look at Xavier’s big upcoming game at Butler and what their chances are of earning a #1 seed.  The SEC continues to be a logjam with Texas A&M improving and Tennessee and Auburn continuing to win.  Washington has come on strong out of the Pac Twelve, and Kansas continues to befuddle us with just one road loss, but four losses at home.  And, we also look at how the city of Philadelphia went wild after Temple’s big win at Tulane!!  All that, and much more….

 

And for all you radio lovers, below is an mp3 version of the show…

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