Technology meets hoops: How times have changed
I used to hang out around a basketball coach, Ralph Miller, who continually preached that nothing had changed in the game since the 1930s...
Seattle Times colleges reporter
I used to hang out around a basketball coach, Ralph Miller, who continually preached that nothing had changed in the game since the 1930s. Today, I'd contend nothing has changed around the game since, oh, about 2005.
Saturday, Washington State standout Klay Thompson was late for a team bus and benched for the first few minutes of the Arizona State game, and he later ascribed his tardiness to a misplaced iPod.
What's next in our Gen Z world? "Uh, coach, sorry I'm late. I was friending somebody. And, oh yeah, I was on Skype and lost track of time."
A couple of days before Thompson's misstep, a blog created something of a stir among observers of Oregon State basketball.
Not just your garden-variety, out-of-mom's-basement blog. This one came from George Dohrmann, a Pulitzer Prize-winning, sports-investigative journalist and the author of the critically acclaimed book "Play Their Hearts Out." It's a hard look at the dark side of youth basketball.
One of the principal figures in the book is OSU guard Roberto Nelson. His father is in prison, and Dohrmann occasionally provides Nelson's dad extensive updates on Nelson and the Beavers.
Dohrmann has a blog, and last week, in a scathing, 1,200-word post, he questioned just about every aspect of OSU's style, calling the Beavers "one of the worst major-conference teams in the nation," and saying there appears to be "no discipline, poor fundamentals, a lack of leadership and a coach on the sideline who doesn't appear to have any answers."
Tuesday, I asked OSU coach Craig Robinson if he'd read Dohrmann.
"I have not read it," Robinson said, laughing, "and the way everybody's talking about it, I don't think I am (going to)."
This isn't exactly what Robinson needs. After a promising first year, his past two OSU teams are a combined 23-34 and 12-20 in the Pac-10. Dohrmann may not be Bob Knight assessing Robinson's team, but he can't be written off as some fringe screwball, either.
Six or eight years ago, Dohrmann would have had no blog, and — good or bad — there would have been no resulting swell of fan criticism of Robinson.
But back to Thompson and the Cougars. Tuesday, when I asked WSU coach Ken Bone if circumstances could ever mitigate a disciplinary action, he said Thompson didn't tell him about the iPod until Monday. Thompson mentioned it to reporters Saturday after WSU went down to ASU, 71-69.
Bone said he would have acted differently if Thompson had "come to the bus prior and just said, 'Hey, my iPod's in my room somewhere and I can't find it,' and he goes back to his room and finds it."
In general, Bone said, "we're trying to lay down some discipline within the program. When there's time involved, be on time. It's kind of a life lesson. We're not trying to throw away games because of it. He understands the rules and had no issue with it, and neither did anyone else."
Since Thompson didn't mention the iPod at the time, Bone said, "I didn't even ask him. There was no reason to ask."
Can there be extenuating circumstances? Of course. But Thompson didn't handle this one right.
Earlier, the Cougars had Reggie Moore's marijuana bust and DeAngelo Casto being late, resulting in him not starting a game. By itself, Thompson's indiscretion is small, yet more evidence that this team doesn't yet get the concept of veteran leadership.
And what's more ...
• Arizona's Sean Miller, on the game-saving block (or goaltend) by Derrick Williams against Washington: "It could go either way. I do think, whether you want to count it or not, it was a great individual play by Derrick."
• Among Tuesday's UConn sanctions was a severe, two-year show-cause penalty against former basketball-operations chief Beau Archibald amid allegations he provided false and misleading information to the NCAA. Archibald played a year (1996-97) for Kevin Eastman at WSU.
• At one point in its loss to USC Saturday, Stanford had five freshmen on the floor.
• Maybe coaches overthink preparation. USC coach Kevin O'Neill said part of the Trojans' first sweep in the Bay Area since 1992 owes to last Friday, when on the day between games they had "no film, no walk-through, no nothing, a day completely off from basketball." Refreshed, USC upset Stanford, 69-53.
Bud Withers: 206-464-8281 or email@example.com
About Bud Withers
Bud Withers gives his take on college sports, with the latest from the Huskies, Cougs, and the rest of the Pac-10.
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