Big XII: Bob Knight - Part I

By Jean Neuberger - October 19, 2006

The six coaches from the morning session were all gathered outside. Only one coach, though, had a media throng going at least four deep. Bob Knight, love him or hate him, can draw a crowd. Relaxing in his chair, Knight discussed his feelings on coaching, as well as the state of basketball.

"I should have taken a different approach with last year's team," said Knight. "I didn't realize how much we had lost. We'd lost an awful lot. I misjudged the talent on this team and I should've taken a different approach. I should've played a few more guys, played a few guys less as well."

Among the new players on Knight's team is 6-9 forward Trevor Cook. Although he will sit out this season, Cook has the honor of being the first transfer player Knight has ever brought into his program.

"Pat asked him a very good question about why no major Division I school went after him," Knight said. "What he (Cook) said was very refreshing. He said 'nobody wanted me'. And that's amazing to me. Here's a player that I think could be the best player we've brought here to Texas Tech, and no one wanted him two years ago."

The Red Raiders coach then launched into his feelings about the state of basketball, both on the college and international levels.

"The three point line should be eliminated," Knight said. "Let me tell you why I don't like it. It's not difficult enough. Even at my age today, I can step on the court and hit three point shots. There are tougher shots, tougher things to do on the court that are worth less. They said the three point line was invented to stop the zone defense. Why? Does this mean we should eliminate the zone defense? No. The zone defense is a challenge. Basketball should be about challenges, and that's why it should be eliminated."

Knight also believes that a team's ability to foul late in the game in a desperate attempt so that the other team can miss free throws and lose possession should be eliminated as well.

"You shouldn't be able to foul your way to victory," Knight said. "Win it with defense."

Knight believes that the rise of the mid-majors, such as Wichita State and George Mason, are a sign of the times.

"There are 300 schools in Division I," Knight said. "There is so much basketball talent out there than ever before. When I was recruited in high school, I was a good player. I wasn't a great player, but a good player, and I was heavily recruited. I just went to a junior college game, and as I watched it, I thought 'I wouldn't have been able to start for either of these teams.' The talent pool has grown, and the mid-majors are getting talent that they wouldn't have been able to get twenty years ago. Now, when mid-majors take the floor against the bigger schools, the bigger schools just walk out there and still think 'we can beat these guys'. They have the wrong attitude, and it ends up costing them."

Which explains Knight's Red Raiders playing three games on the road at mid-majors (TCU, UTEP, and Lousiana Tech) this season. Knight wants his team focused on those critical mid-major games.

Knight also came out strong against AAU summer league basketball.

"I think the thing that hurts the college recruit the most is AAU basketball," Knight said. "A recruit plays at 7:00 in the morning and gets beat. He plays again at 1 in the afternoon and gets beat. He plays at 4 right after that and loses again, and he's got to play more games tomorrow. It becomes more about playing basketball than it does playing basketball and winning. You've got to play in the summer. But you should play in your hometown with your friends and teammates, and you'll play because you like to play and it's something you want to do."

On the NCAA rule book, Knight again was outspoken.

"If I was a college president, I'd rally to cut that book," Knight said. "I spoke a few weeks ago to the Washington Press Club. I brought with me the NCAA rule book and dropped it down on the table. It sounded like a rocket had gone off. Then, I reached under the podium and pulled out the U.S. Constitution,which was about four pages. I told them 'I'm a history major, and correct me if I'm wrong, but these four pages of paper have given Americans the best society known to the world since 1783. Why should the NCAA rule book be anything but five pages? Change the book...and tell people what to do instead of what not to do."

When asked about his reality TV show "Knight School", the coach said he actually had never seen an episode.

"The only reason I did that show was to show off our campus and our community," Knight said. "I never watched an episode. My wife would tell me if I would've liked or not liked the show each week though."

On the status of USA Basketball, Knight was very clear on what he felt the Americans needed to do.

"We used to win every game based on defense," Knight said. "Other countries would just shoot and never play defense, and we'd just destroy schools. Now, that's changed. A lot of our coaches have gone overseas and taught defensive skills, and while the attention to fundamentals has gone up overseas, it's gone down here. I watch Sportscenter to check basketball scores, and everything is dunk, dunk, dunk. We don't shoot as well and we don't pass as well as we used to."

Finally, Knight was asked about what he felt is the ideal head coach for a college program.

"If i was a college president, I'd want a coach who absolutely loved the game of basketball," Knight said. "I'd want him to be honest, with me and with his players, and be very enthusiastic. Then, I'd want to sit with him and discuss his basketball strategies. Then, I'd want the AD to hire my choice. But really, there are so many aspects to the game now. Some coaches can recruit but can't coach. Some can coach but can't recruit. A good coach has to do both, as both are aspects of the job. If you want the purest form to see who can coach, send them to coach a high school team, because then you get what's given to you. There's no recruiting. A good high school coach will be successful coaching on any level."

And judging by the success of Knight over his career, one would be foolish not to take his advice to heart.

Posted by Jean Neuberger at 12:04 PM on October 19, 2006

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