MEMPHIS – The first AAC Media Day is in the books. A few notes, quotes and thoughts …
This league should really be pretty good – this year. Once Louisville leaves, there will be a gap in power and brand recognition, no question. And when Larry Brown, 73, moves on, SMU will lose the most compelling thing about its program.
This is something the teams will have to address, and UConn, too, by scheduling better and better non-conference opponents. But for now, a coaching dais that includes Rick Pitino, Larry Brown, Fran Dunphy, Kevin Ollie, et al, is fairly glittering, and the inaugural AAC season should have its share of ranked teams.
Here’s the main story on our website and for the Thursday Courant. Lots of coverage, video, photos, etc., there.
I know they only picked first and second teams, but I feel like DeAndre Daniels should have had a place on one of them. “People are always overlooking DeAndre,” Shabazz Napier said.
Like most papers, The Courant has an extensive special preview section planned and Media Day is a chance to stockpile needed interviews for that. Won’t spoil it here, but a lot of good stuff from Shabazz Napier, DeAndre Daniels and Ryan Boatright for “special section” stories we’re preparing. More on that down the road
The panel discussion with the league’s coaches was pretty interesting and entertaining. Seth Greenberg did a good job moderating. He asked Rick Pitino, after winning a championship, getting his horse in the Derby and getting his first tattoo at age 61, what can he do for an encore? “The only realistic thing would be to get another tattoo,” Pitino said.
Later, Pitino said, “we have no business thinking we’re going to win another championship except for where we’re ranked in preseason polls, which we all know are meaningless.”
Pitino also riffed on his horse, which he named after Russ [diculous] Smith, the AAC’s preseason player of the year. The horse has a bad habit of fading in the stretch, it seems, “so it was an insult for Russ to name the horse after him, because Russ never quits.”
Larry Brown, on Smith, said, “his will to win is very special. You can’t win a national championship without a player like him.” But to compare Smith to Allen Iverson, who played for Brown with the 76ers, “would be unfair,” Brown said.
BTW, did you know Larry Brown, who has had 14 head coaching jobs, nearly got his first chance at UConn? He was telling Connecticut reporters he was offered the job in 1967, when he was a 26-year-old assistant on Dean Smith’s staff. Brown decided he wasn’t ready, and instead went back to playing in the ABA. Things turned out pretty well, though.
More on that here in the AAC notebook for the Thursday Courant.
Kevin Ollie was talking about Shabazz Napier’s curiosity, and his knowledge of a lot of things. When the van passed the neat little Triple A ballpark downtown. “He knew who played there, and whose farm system it was, the Cardinals, and all that,” Ollie said.
Cincinnati has aspirations of hosting the AAC Tournament, and presumably Media Day with it, someday soon.
Jon Rothstein of CBS tweeted me this morning to say he thought South Floirida, picked eighth, was a “sleeper.” I agree. … In case you didn’t see it elsewhere, here is the AAC’s coaches poll, and preseason honorees. From the AAC release:
2013-14 AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE PRESEASON COACHES’ POLL
Rank Team (First-Place Votes) : 1. Louisville (9) * 2. UConn (1) 3. Memphis 4. Cincinnati 5. Temple 6. SMU 7. Houston 8. USF 9. UCF 10. Rutgers
2013-14 AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE PRESEASON INDIVIDUAL HONORS
Preseason Player of the Year: Russ Smith, G, Sr., Louisville
Preseason Rookie of the Year: Keith Frazier, G, Fr., SMU
Preseason All-Conference Teams
First Team: Sean Kilpatrick, G, Cincinnati Shabazz Napier, G, UConn * Chane Behanan, F, Louisville Russ Smith, G, Louisville * Joe Jackson, G, Memphis *
Second Team: Isaiah Sykes, G, UCF Ryan Boatright, G, UConn TaShawn Thomas, F, Houston Montrezl Harrell, F, Louisville Anthony Collins, G, USF Victor Rudd, F, USF
– * unanimous selection
The Courant’s Nick Greene caught up with A.J. Price, who is trying to catch on with the T-Wolves, story here.
Just one more thing: Want to post this great read on former Husky Andre Drummond by Grantland’s Jonathan Abrams.