La Salle coach John Giannini knows what is going on and is not thrilled with any of it. He thinks it should revert to the way it was.
"Everybody sits out a year," Dr. G says.
"Recruiting of players already in school is off the charts, incredible," Giannini said. "We've had waivers denied, Vernon Goodridge. We got Ramon Galloway eligible. I would argue that if you have a family member who is ill, maybe you shouldn't be playing 20 road games. Maybe you should be focused on helping that person and not playing basketball.
"There is no question that they intended some compassion by doing this. It's just that the lines are so blurry, it's just hard to tell. More kids are taking advantage of it. We had one guy take advantage of it in the last 9 years. Right now, there's some schools that are getting two or three guys eligible a year. It's really going to help their program and hurt others."
When you don't play as much as you expected, you begin to look around.
"Every freshman student wonders whether they made the right decision," Giannini said. "There comes a day when everything's going great and you wonder, 'Could I have gone somewhere bigger?' There comes a day when things are tough and 'I wonder if I made the right choice'; 100 percent of kids have that thought. They have a lot of external pressures. If a kid doesn't play a lot, they look at their phone after the game and all their texts. 'What's up, what's going on with the coach, why aren't you playing more?' It's a huge deal for kids, and most teams can only play seven, eight guys."
Without the transfer rule, Giannini said, "it would be impossible to build a program. You wouldn't even know what you would need when you recruit."
And even when you do know, those recruits might not be hanging around for long.
The quote machine on starting
Nobody will ever duplicate the legendary John Chaney around here for opinion on everything and outrageous quotes on most things. We still have a very honest, quotable group in this city. But Dr. G might be the least shy of all of them.
"If I was the basketball god, I would do away with the starting lineup introductions," Giannini said. "I think it glamorizes starting too much . . . I think we should introduce no one or introduce the whole team. Starting is too important to kids."
With that, he told a great story about an old high school coach.
"He sends his whole team out for the jump ball," Giannini said. "Of course, they call a technical. The coach turns around from the bench and tells the parents behind the bench: 'I hope you're happy, all your kids started.' It's so important, because we show highlights of them. The students jump around. It's not that big a deal."
The neverending season
There is very little Saint Louis coach Jim Crews has not seen in the sport. He was on the last unbeaten national champions (1976 Indiana) and has been coaching just about ever since.
When he was at IU and school ended, it ended for the basketball players, too.
"School got out May 3," Crews said. "There were no weights. There were no individual workouts, no meetings, no conditioning. There was nothing."
So Crews went home to Normal, Ill., for May, June and July, and came back at the end of August for school.
The players would get a letter from Bob Knight in the summer. And nothing else.
"School would start," Crews remembered. "We'd have a meeting. We'd have low-key pickup games 4 days a week. Then, 15 days before Oct. 15, we'd have, in our minds, a tough conditioning program and then the season. If you do that today as a coach, they'd fire you. You're too soft, you're not committed, you don't care. It's really kind of gone off the charts on that stuff.
"You're still talking about 18, 19, 20, you're talking about young people. And people are expecting them to be mentally, emotionally and physically at their peak every 3 days. It's just you against me. One of us is going to win; one of us is going to lose, so half the people are upset, because someone lost. And that's what we're putting on them."
Whatever became of the independents
If you go back 40 years, 79 independents were playing college hoops. Today, there is one, New Jersey Institute of Technology.
NJIT started its Division I life by losing 59 of its first 60 games from 2007-09. Then, it joined the Great West and played all over the country, going 46-45 the last three seasons. Then, the other Great West teams got recruited to play in automatic qualifying leagues, and NJIT is all by itself.
This and that
* Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim has had 35 20-win seasons. Think about that a minute. And then do that math.
And consider this math. When Duke and Syracuse meet on Feb. 1 at the Carrier Dome in their first game against each other in the ACC, the coaches will have more than 1,900 wins between them, and the soldout Dome will have more than 35,000 fans.
* There were 233 Division I teams 40 years ago. This season, there are 345, with another six “transitioning” into eventual D-I status.
* Loved the Louisville-Kentucky game at Rupp on Saturday. Great players, great coaches, great scene. Old, lovable Adolph Rupp did not play another Kentucky D-I school in the regular season from 1930-72. Even though Louisville and Western Kentucky especially had great traditions, Rupp would not let them on his stage. Nor would he give it to Murray State, Morehead State or Eastern Kentucky.
* Kansas coach Bill Self has won more Big 12 titles (nine) than he has losses at Allen Field House (eight).
* Richmond is 10-4. Three of its losses were in OT.
* George Washington is obviously a serious squad. The Colonials have beaten Creighton, Maryland, Miami and Boston University while also winning at Manhattan. They open A-10 play at La Salle next Thursday. The difference? Indiana transfer Maurice Creek. He was tremendous as a freshman at IU (averaging 16.4 points in 2009-10) before getting one injury after another. Finally healthy again, he is averaging 16.1 points and hit the game-winner against Maryland.