The Value of Championships: A Kansas Lesson


As Selection Sunday was unveiled last night, the Kansas Jayhawks were slotted as the overall No. 1 seed.

This has set the stage for the Jayhawks and Head Coach Bill Self to finish one of the most historic seasons in recent college basketball history.

Kansas has not only won the Maui Invitational, their 12th consecutive Big 12 Regular Season Championship, and the Big 12 Conference Tournament, but they also won the 2015 World University Games in Gwangju, South Korea, as Team USA defeated Germany, 84-77. That version of Team USA consisted of the almost the entire Jayhawk roster and gives them an added championship pedigree (USA – Germany box).

This means that Kansas has already won four different championships this season.

Essentially, Self’s Jayhawks could win their fifth championship this season if they can win six more games in the upcoming National Tournament.

It begs the question, how much did it value Kansas to play the type of competition it did in the World University Games? It can be argued that this tournament will be more challenging then any games in the NCAA Tournament and rhat it really helped prepare Kansas for their rigorous Big 12 regular season.

After the gold medal win in July, Self acknowledged that “‘It’s a huge thrill, a huge honor. Our team really bonded and came together. To win it the way we won it — playing against a Germany team that outplayed us a majority of the game — we were dead tired, no legs, no lift, couldn’t make a shot and willed ourselves to win.'”

Although Kansas may not eventually cut down the mets, their championships still have provided the elite program with an opportunity to test themselves throughout the season and be as prepared as possible.

It seems that throughout college basketball, more preseason tournaments should play for championships, especially at D2 & D3 levels,  and not just have an exempt weekend where games are played for regional rankings.

There is value to winning a championship at any level of college basketball, as it prepares teams for the quick turnaround and focus that postseason play requires.

Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo




“Glue Guy” Finally Defined

Here is a great piece by NBA and NCAA Champion, Shane Battier, about what it means to be a ‘Glue Guy’.

It just goes to show you that ‘glue guys’ are important in order for teams to be successful. Most coaches would agree that the intangibles and things that don’t show up on the stat sheet are what make the difference come playoff time.

As a coach, do you have a way to chart or identify ‘glue guys’ in free agency or the recruiting process? If not should you if ‘glue guys’ are this important?

Leave your comments below and thank you for the feedback!

Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo

Saban’s Culture Makes it a Smart Choice to Keep Kirby On


Tonight’s College Football Playoff National Championship features three college football head coaches: Alabama’s Nick Saban, Clemson’s Dabo Swinney and Georgia’s Kirby Smart.

Smart is currently the Alabama Defensive Coordinator who was recently named Head Coach at the University of Georgia.

Due to college football’s schedule, Smart has had to assume both roles, as Saban has allowed him to remain on staff and finish Alabama’s run at their fourth national championship in seven years.

Clearly, Saban feels comfortable that Kirby will be ultra focused on getting his defense ready to the best of his ability, even though Saban knows Kirby will be dedicating some of his time to putting a staff together at Georgia and recruiting against Alabama and other SEC rivals.

Here are a few articles that give some perspective on Kirby’s unique situation:–georgia-roles-ahead-of-playoff-214830041-ncaaf.html

This dual role is interesting for me to fathom as a college basketball coach.

Due to the calendar/schedule, this is much more of a possibly in college football than college basketball. As a matter of fact, I have never heard of a team making a Final Four run with an Associate Head Coach/Assistant Coach who was already hired in another program, have you?

I think the sheer logistics on the coaching staff allow college football staff members to share some of the load of losing a coordinator or position coach. This would be much more difficult in my opinion on a college basketball staff because of 1) a small staff size and 2) the fact that in the tournament teams play Thursday/Saturday or Friday/Sunday on the first two weeks of the tournament. These back to back games would severely limit a coaches ability to do both jobs to the best of their ability.

Either way, the fact that Saban is allowing this shows the confidence he has in himself, his culture and Alabama as a brand.

Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo


Second Time Around…

With Oklahoma facing off against Clemson this year in the College Football Playoffs, it is lasts year’s game that is getting lots of attention.

In last year’s Russell Athletic Bowl, Clemson romped Oklahoma 40-6 (and was leading 40-0 after the 3rd quarter) and commentator’s were harsh in their criticism of Oklahoma (Clemson Blows Out Oklahoma).

This aside, it reminds me when I was the Head Women’s Basketball Coach of Penn State University – Beaver Campus and during the 2010-2011 season we beat Penn State University – Brandywine, 54-49, at home in a game were we were up by double digits throughout but let them creep back in it at the end.

We then went on to face them in our conference championship game at the Bryce Jordan Center in State College, Pa. After leading by 10 points at the half and expanding our lead, Brandywine came all the way back to stun us, 57-54, and crush our seniors chances of winning four straight postseason conference championships. It was a heart breaking game as a coach, because I felt as though any adjustments I made to help our team keep momentum was futile. I could see the momentum slipping away but could not do much to help our cause.

I am not sure, maybe Brandywine used some external motivations as Oklahoma is using against Clemson (other than just wanting to win a championship, of course).

Do you recall any rivalries where team’s faced off against each other in the same season or in consecutive seasons that the outcome was different? The same? External motivations?

Please give your feedback below to share with other coaches and fans.

Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo


Two Great Reads (Adam Vinatieri & Becky Hammon)

Here are two articles worth reading in the latest Sports Illustrated (12-14-15):

Fossil Fueled – Adam Vinatieri article – Sports Illustrated 12-14-15 – Jack Dickey

Ponytail Express – Becky Hammon – Sports Illustrated 12-14-15 – Alexander Wolff

It is ironic that both reference Rapid City, South Dakota.

Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo