Basketball Prospectus: Unfiltered Everything Else is Fluff.

March 18, 2009

Chat Tomorrow, PLUS Coaching Carousel?

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Gasaway @ 10:41 am

Join me tomorrow at noon Eastern for my favorite live chat of the year, the one I do as the tournament’s first games are tipping off. Last year’s tip-off chat was fun and wild, as 14-seed and miracle team Georgia took an unexpected lead over three-seed Xavier. Eventually the Musketeers won pretty easily, but Xavier panic and Bulldog jubilation reigned supreme on the chat for a while there.

So yeah, click here tomorrow to go live or do it now and submit your question in advance. All topics welcomed! Keep me on my toes and make up still another postseason tournament: “Hey, John, who do you like in this year’s first-ever Elite X-tremes Collegiate Excellence Seeded Selection Invitational Vibrant Event (EXCESSIVE)? I like how the bracket lines up for Prairie View A&M. Go Panthers! All the way to the finals in Muncie! Woo!” 

And because I believe no Unfiltered post should be limited to a shameless plug for a chat, please accept this morsel of speculation regarding the hiring market for head coaches this season:

Previously I’ve wondered aloud what effect the economy will have on this year’s coaching carousel, specifically whether buyouts negotiated circa 2006 will prove too much to swallow in the strange and financially straitened new realm called 2009.

Of course within hours of wondering aloud, Dave Leitao was shown the door at Virginia. (Note that in this link the pitiless finger of hindsight is pointed at alleged deficiencies displayed by the Cavaliers on defense. Actually this year in ACC play UVA was at least within shouting distance of average on D–Boston College, for one, is dancing even though their defense is markedly more porous than Virginia’s–but the Cavaliers were way below-average on offense. For the record.) Even with a vacancy in Charlottesville, however, there remain multiple other shoes out there that simply haven’t dropped this postseason. My sense is that in better economic times we would see more positions available than the ones currently open at Alabama, Georgia, and Virginia (and, of course, an opening sans any firing at Arizona).

There is, however, one factor that could ignite a true coaching carousel this year, hard times or no. Yesterday at SI.com Seth Davis suggested that a player revolt may be in the offing at Kentucky if Billy Gillispie is retained as head coach. I can’t remember the last time I was less surprised to read something that should have been surprising. I watched a number of UK games this year. Those players just looked miserable, even when they won.

Nothing has happened in Lexington yet, of course. Maybe nothing will happen. But speaking purely as a hypothetical, an opening at a program as blue-blooded as Kentucky would ripple through the entire coaching market. Look at what happened when North Carolina hired Roy Williams in 2003. Kansas replaced Williams with Bill Self. Illinois replaced Self with Bruce Weber. Southern Illinois replaced Weber with Matt Painter. A very small number of jobs trigger after-shocks like that. Kentucky is one of them.

BONUS etymology note! What the heck does “waiting for the other shoe to drop” mean, anyway?

Now I know. It dates from the early 1900s:

Its source would seem to be the following story. A man comes in late at night to a lodging house, rather the worse for wear. He sits on his bed, drags one shoe off and drops it on the floor. Guiltily remembering everyone around him is trying to sleep, he takes the other one off much more carefully and quietly puts it on the floor. He then finishes undressing and gets into bed. Just as he is drifting off to sleep, a shout comes from the man in the room below: “Well, drop the other one then! I can’t sleep, waiting for you to drop the other shoe!” This may come from music hall or vaudeville, though it would seem that nobody has been able to tie it down more precisely.

Actually, that’s plenty precise for me.

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