Last Friday, the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation had its 3rd annual College Basketball Tip-Off event in Baltimore. We had 5 former or current college basketball coaches come together and share their stories about past successes and challenges, as well as their team’s upcoming seasons. This year we listened to stories from former college basketball coaches Bobby Cremmins (Georgia Institute of Technology/College of Charleston), Gary Williams (University of Maryland) and current coaches Jay Wright (Villanova University), Jimmy Patsos (Sienna College) and Mark Turgeon (University of Maryland). Being an avid Maryland basketball fan, I was like a kid on Christmas morning because I got to listen to Gary Williams and Mark Turgeon discuss the program’s history and the direction it is heading. I also enjoyed listening to all the coaches’ talk about how they became head coaches and their favorite recruiting stories.
My favorite recruiting story was when Coach Turgeon was at Jacksonville State University (his first head coaching gig). He was recruiting a player that was looking at University of Alabama and Jacksonville State. Alabama has the bigger program, so Coach knew he had to get creative in recruiting. He found out the player was a huge WWE wrestling fan, and when Coach went on the home visit, he surprised the player by asking him questions on all things WWE and specifically one wrestler, Stone Cold Steve Austin. And Coach Turgeon did get that player to come to Jacksonville State!
I love college basketball for one simple reason: it is all about TEAMWORK! Basketball is not an individual sport where one person can win a game for the whole team. It starts with the head coach, as he or she cannot do their job without the help of assistants. The coaches come up with a game plan and teach the team in practice and in film sessions. All the players work together as a team to execute their game plan to perfection: whether it is learning set plays to run the offense, or working on new defensive schemes and rebounding drills. That’s why the College Basketball Tip-Off happens to be my favorite event of the year—that and hearing great stories from the coaches.
As the college basketball season starts this Friday night, I will be watching Maryland vs. 18th ranked Connecticut on ESPN as they play at the Barclay’s Center in New Jersey. I look forward to seeing Mark Turgeon and his coaches’ game plan, and how well the team can execute that plan.
Do you have a favorite college basketball team? What are you most looking forward to this season?