Thursday, November 20, 2008

College Basketball clinics now on ESPN

College basketball season is underway, and the first Tar Heels game I could see was Tuesday night, and the pre-game included the usual panel of commentators with one new guy--Robert Montgomery Knight, aka Coach Knight, who retired from Texas Tech but made his name at Indiana.

Now, being a Tar Heel fan, I didn't know all that much about Coach Knight other than the fact that people I respected were impressed with him. He got a lot of bad press, whether or not he deserved it I don't know.

Last Tuesday, I sat in front of the TV open-mouthed as he made more serious and substantive observations in the ten minutes or so he had the floor than I've heard out of Dick Vitale's mouth his entire career (and unlike Vitale, he was about to complete a thought without mentioning what a "class program" they have at Duke). I *learned* a lot, a shocking amount considering how much study I give the game in general and this team in particular, from his low-key off-hand comments and observations about the Tar Heel's up-coming game with a badly-struggling Kentucky squad.

Tonight, he provided the color commentary for Duke's game with Southern Illinois. As little as I can stand watching Duke play (Why can't they just play a clean game? Why all the elbows and tripping? Oh, never mind), and worse yet, win, I was unable to turn it off because I was endlessly fascinated by Coach Knight's commentary. I think I learned more about the game in those two hours watching him call a Duke game (I can't believe I'm writing that) than I learned in my first five years as a serious fan.

Whatever you may think of Coach Knight's career thus far, if you want to understand the way the game is played, and why defenses set up they way they do, and what works on offense, and what teams that are falling behind need to do to catch up, try to catch a game that Coach Knight is calling. It was absolutely riveting. He's got a great career ahead of him as a commentator.

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