No, this isn't an excuse to share my weekly KTGR interview in two different posts. That's just a bonus.
Yesterday on KTGR, Matt and Brandon were arguing about an interesting premise: If you had to build an SEC basketball program from scratch (and while Kim Anderson isn't doing that, per say, it's relatively close to that), how would you go about it?
While I was stammering around for an answer to this, I pulled up Ken Pomeroy's rankings. On each conference page, he shares how each conference grades out in different categories. Here's the SEC (with conference ranks in small font next to values):
SEC teams block shots, crash the offensive glass, get to the line, and play at a pretty fast tempo. They also turn the ball over a decent amount and shoot horribly. This table alone gives you a pretty clear impression of a conference that is long, athletic, and not incredible from a fundamentals standpoint. SEC basketball has a fast, up-and-down style that probably doesn't please purists (or, at times, anybody else either).
Evaluations aside, though, what does this mean from a program-building standpoint? If you're an incoming basketball coach with a black hole for a roster, do you attempt to go upstream or down? Do you attempt to build a long, athletic team and hope that you can make it better than the others? Or do you swerve in the other direction and try to exploit weaknesses with a team that is great at slowing the tempo down, handling the ball, and nailing outside shots?
I don't actually have an answer. I stammered and stuttered around a few different answers on the radio, but no partial answer really satisfied me. In theory, either could work. And maybe the answer comes down to recruiting -- if you're able to sign blue-chip athletes, you go with the status quo approach, but if you're in the land of three-stars and occasional fours, maybe you go with the alternative?
In the end, recruiting, development and coaching matter than size and style, I guess, but it's a really interesting question, one I wanted to highlight and share.
So what say you? Do you go with the flow and try to build a better athletic team, or do you load up on shooters and ball-handlers, maybe with an old-school big man who can push around the 6'9, 205-pound high-fliers?