He arrived a little late and a bit shaken from a rough, windy flight from Florida yesterday evening, but the king of hyperbole arrived eventually and the biggest mouth in college basketball hit the ground running once it found its favorite target - the collective ears of a captive audience.
Dick Vitale, the former college and (briefly) NBA coach-turned television color analyst, was at the Pinnacle in Maumee last night as the guest speaker at the Sunoco Sports Dinner, a benefit for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
Dickie V shared his opinion on several current issues in the basketball world.
t Dan Dakich's return: “It kind of surprised me. I don't know all the particulars, but Dan obviously didn't feel things were like he thought they were [at West Virginia] when he accepted the job. He's very lucky Bowling Green was there to have that job available for him again. Sometimes you have to wonder about a situation like that - if that doesn't hurt you in the long run [for future jobs] professionally if you're looking to advance. Somebody may say, `Wait a minute now, I'm a little scared to hire him.' It's a dangerous move, but you've got to do what you feel is right. He's an outstanding young coach.”
t The NCAA's snubbing of BGSU: “They should've had a bid. The Mid-American Conference has proven itself over the years to be one of the really underrated conferences in America. BG and Butler from the Horizon League both should've been in the tournament. I just feel we honor a lot of teams with mediocre records. I get tired of hearing about RPI ratings because, first of all, when you're from a conference that doesn't have the great visibility and exposure of all the heavyweights, then you're not going to have a chance to develop a strong RPI rating. We shouldn't give out bids to more than five teams from a conference. I don't think they should be rewarded over [mid-major] teams that have a super year.”
t Jim O'Brien's quick success at Ohio State: “I'll be honest. I was one of the first guys that thought it wouldn't fit. That he was such an easterner [from Boston College] and loved New England and that he belonged there. But it just goes to show, if you can deal with people and you can communicate, it doesn't matter where you live. He's done a fantastic job.”
t Tommy Amaker's uphill fight at Michigan: “They're going to get there because, number one, you're representing a school that is so special. Academically and athletically, Michigan is one of the great schools in America. When you have that kind of formula to sell, you're going to convince two or three [great] players a year to wear that uniform, and Tommy can sell. He came at a tough time with the Ed Martin situation and all, so people can't expect that to turn around in 12 months. Michigan will be back in the upper echelon of the Big Ten.”
t High schoolers jumping to the NBA: “I'd like to work something out with high school kids leaving early and missing the most precious four years of their lives being on a college campus. But how do you tell a youngster who's looking at multi-millions from shoe deals and all of that to take a chance that maybe you tear your knee up. Who am I?”
t Prep phenom Lebron James: “He's a rare commodity. I've talked to people I respect and haven't heard one negative. With this kid, he's super at everything. [Syracuse coach] Jim Boeheim told me that if he [James] doesn't get [any] better he will be one of the top 10 in the NBA. That's one heck of a statement.”
t The possibility of James skipping his senior year and playing in Europe: “I have a tough enough time figuring out what Dick Vitale's going to do in the next five minutes. I can't make a judgment for a youngster. Every kid has to know his situation.”