Saturday, February 18, 2006

Mayer: Oh, those meddling parents


Can't publish the gentleman's name because he occupies a highly sensitive position in matters athletic and academic. Yet he provides delicious food for thought about the process of college basketball recruiting.

It resulted from a conversation about the vagaries and caprices of talent-hunting and how helicopter mommies and hovercraft daddies can be intruders from hell.

"I think I'd go out of my way to sign the most talented orphans possible," the guy declared with a chuckle, having had far more than his fair share of coping with nutty parents. In that scenario, such kids would be so grateful to the coach for rescuing them from Boys Town or its equivalent that they'd listen, work and excel without interference from a parent(s).

You know where this comes from. In the past 10 years or so, Kansas University has had a number of court personalities, some of them actually pretty good, whose moms and dads have just about driven coaches Roy Williams and Bill Self nuts with their constant interference and intrusions. "My boy needs this, my boy needs that, how come he doesn't play more, why do you criticize him?" That doesn't just happen on television shows or in the movies, folks.

David Padgett transferred to Louisville, seems to be doing well, and it would appear his attentive parents helped him make a good choice. Can't see Padgett fitting into the current picture too famously, chemistry being what it is. But the reason so many of us still resent him is that he diddled around long enough that Self missed getting J.P. Batista, the talented 6-foot-9 insider who figures so lethally in Gonzaga's successes. You can only fantasize how much he could be helping Kansas.

Then there was the ultra-brief Micah Downs career here, before he left for Gonzaga. Evidence is that a little parental involvement figured in this defection (seven high schools?). Yet bottom line, Downs like J.R. Giddens amounted to addition by subtraction.

There are countless horror stories about parental distractions for KU basketball in fairly recent times, and a lot of them are true. It's tough enough for a coach and his staff to single out terrific talent and get the kids focused on being Jayhawks. Trouble is, parents may appear committed and dedicated to the coach's concepts to begin with, but the blood thickens faster than the water, and before long they want to be adjunct coaches - without being asked.

Oklahoma State's Eddie Sutton has had big success with transfers, guys who were desperate for a second chance and eager to do what they were told. Even so, too many lurking helicopter moms and hovercraft dads. Limber up the ack-ack guns!

A coach is tremendously blessed by parents like those of Nick Collison and Kirk Hinrich. Loyal, knowledgeable, supportive, ready to help at the drop of a hat. But the tutors have to take the bitter with the sweet, and you can be sure lots of them wish certain coddled kids were orphans.

Still on the parenting thing, KU's Brandon Rush's mother thinks he needs at least another year of seasoning in college, and Brandon would be wise to listen to momma. He has loads of NBA-type skills, but he can be as big a ball-management disaster as Keith Langford. The pros would eat Rush alive at his present level of non-paint ball-handling, the way Oklahoma Staters did on crucial occasions when Rush played Carl Casual with the sphere.

Mom's right, Brandon, you need a lot more work.


sportaholic 13 years, 11 months ago

I agree-- the JW is really big on criticism these days. Keegan and Mayer occasionally have something positive to say, but they mostly bash the boys in crimson and blue. Okay, "bash" is a harsh term, but they do seem overly critical, emphasizing negative more than positive.

We get it, this men's basketball team is young. Yeah, they lack some experience. Indeed they are improving and are vastly improved from the start of the season. Let's see writing about how these players have fundamentally changed over the course of the season (as nicely written by Keegan in the "not conceited" article-- kudos on that one). Mayer, I think, is still peeved about the new-- and fair-- Allen Field House seating arrangements based on contributions. Thus, he seems eager to bash away on this KU team, its coaches (well, okay, maybe not so much), and (especially) the athletic administration in general.

Okay Bill, we understand, you don't like Lew and his new seating arrangment. Yeah, you want there to be loyalty to 50 year seat holders, etc... I personally don't want to see empty seats with seat backs during a sold out game and I would like to see many people I know who have supported the athletic teams for 30+ years be rewarded for their tireless and selfless contributions to the Williams Fund (previously in the nose bleeds despite 30+ years of contributing). Reward those who pony up the dough.

Keegan-- an editor does more than slam people to arouse debate; they must also be able to arouse debate with the positive words they write, and, sometimes, with the words they don't write at all. You're pretty good, but you have a ways to go before you fill Woodling's shoes. I think you'll get it and succeed. Until then, I guess I'll just have to cringe once in a while. Chuck is a genius and we can all learn from him. That's my word, and I'm sticking with it.

Bedore-- you are the best. Raef baby! (Gary will get that joke, I think)

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