We are what Gary makes us

I was just going to post this as a reply to someone else's comment but I feel like expressing my view of MD basketball.

I meant the title in a good way.  It's well known Gary despises the whole recruiting scene and what a sham it has become.  Handlers, kids who get pushed along academically, money, entitlement, etc.  He simply won't go along with any of it. 

I don't believe we're an elite team, but we're a team I'm proud to be associated with.  And we are a good team, just one that can't seem to pull out those single digit games right now.  I'm a die hard Gary fan if only for the fact that he doesn't run a shady program.  If you want a dominant team that gets the one-and-done's every year and is always in the championship talks, then maybe this isn't your team.  We aren't always going to be a great team, but Gary will always get the best out of his players.  It's why we love MD whether you realize it or not.  We're David where teams like Duke, UNC and the likes are Goliath.  That's why it's so satisfying to beat them!

And it's not like Gary hasn't tried.  Think about the recruits who either committed to MD or seemed locks and then suddenly disappeared.  Terrence Ross, Gus Gilchrist, Lance Stephenson....and that's just the past few years.  These kids obviously had grade issues to say the least and many even had ongoing legal issues.  Gary's two favorite players from the past decade are Juan Dixon and Greivis Vasquez.  Not highly touted recruits, but four year guys who became leaders on the floor and commanded the ball when the game was on the line.  They worked hard beyond what was asked of them.  Juan Dixon even had a key to Cole! 

There's a story about how John Calipari flew down to N.C State a few years ago before Sidney Lowe took over to interview for the vacant basketball coaching position.  He flew in on his private jet with his entourage to tour the campus.  His official reason for not taking the position was he didn't want to play in a conference with high caliber teams like Duke and UNC.  The unofficial reason was their academic standards for basketball players were far too high compared to Memphis and he couldn't get the recruits he wanted.  Now I don't know how true the unofficial reason is but it seems plausible and absolutely is a reason why MD, along with many other programs, can't get certain recruits with academic problems.  I'm just waiting for Breunig, Whittington, Judge, or someone else we're pursuing to suddenly drop off the recruiting map due to grades.  And from what I hear, Whittington may be an issue.  I guess we'll see.

Anyway, take this for what it's worth.  Gary is a great sideline coach.  I don't think it's that he "can't" recruit, but more that he isn't willing to deal with certain recruits who are often among the most highly regarded in the country. 

I think some people also have an unrealistic view of our program.  We aren't Duke, UNC, Kentucky, Kansas, Syracuse, UCLA.  We do have a great program history with a HOF coach but we are not elite.  Look at the top 20 recruits on ESPN for 2011: 4 for Kentucky, 2 for UNC, 2 for Syracuse, 1 for Duke, 1 for Texas, 1 for Memphis.  Those programs are either elite or having shady academic standards or shady coaches (I think you can pick that one out).  Now Virginia Tech does have one but he's a local kid and they got lucky that he wanted to stay close by.  We will get top 100 recruits (Parker, Faust, Stoglin) but usually not the top guys.  We have to get kids that fit our program.  And I'll bet you like having Jordan Williams don't you?!

I'll leave you with this thought.  Gary seems to despise entitlement.  It goes against everything he stands for: blue collar, hard working, no complaining, earn your keep style of play and work ethic.  If you're a top 10 or 20 or 30 recruit who gets national attention (games on ESPN, your own page on Rivals, ESPN, etc.), plays on a well known AAU team, gets free athletic gear, gets recruited by huge programs across the country, has a handler who basically acts as your agent, plays in the McDonald's All American game, and who knows what else.  Do you think you might have a bit of an ego and a sense of entitlement?  OF COURSE!  Now there are some that don't fall into that category.  From what I've read about Nick Faust, he seems like a genuinely good kid who just wants to work hard and win.  But the majority seem to fall into the aforementioned category.  Look at Mike Jones, great shooter (rated second behind LeBron James) but he basically refused to play defense.  I'll take a full court player thank you.

I would like to be more competitive and I think Gary could do a bit more to recruit, but I'm happy with the way the program is run and I enjoy our scrappy style of play.  Now if we can just pick up another big or two...

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