|Posted by paul on August 27, 2012 at 9:50 AM|
On one hand, anything Bobby Knight says has to be taken with a lot of salt. His greatest players - Larry Bird and Isiah Thomas - were smart to escape his clutches. I see him as a coach who had a need to dominate his players, and the way this played out was that his greatest players were assigned roles on the team that prevented them from exploring their full talents. The perfect Bobby Knight player would really have been Ray Allen. As I see it, Bobby Knight's famous 'motion' offense was really a lot like the offense the Cs set up for 'Sweet and Sour' Ray; the best player on the team was basically designated as the shooter. He would come off screens, receive the ball, and pop mid-range jumpers. If Bird had stayed at IU, he would have been that guy. He probably would have been College Player of the Year. He probably would have won a college championship. And he would have been a disappointment as a pro, like Calbert Chaney and Damon Bailey, because the rest of his game would have atrophied.
In this video, Knight discusses his admiration for Jared Sullinger. It's heartening stuff, the kind of stuff we've discussed here. Knight talks with great admiration about Sullinger's court sense and understanding of the game, but above all about Sullinger's nose for the paint, and his aggressive but smart way of fighting like a lion for low post position. Knight wouldn't say this, I'm sure, but what he's talking about is a man with the mentality of a center. In today's game, a guy who will fight for the low post, play after play after play, can be very, very effective, in my opinion, even if he doesn't have the best repertoire of moves, and the best physical tools, because that's just rarely done, and remember, Sullinger will be playing with a point guard in Rondo who has an eye for feeding big guys down low.
Obviously, Sullinger isn't ready to be such a dominant force that we can just force the ball to him in the paint, and build the offense around that, but I hope Doc doesn't go with the prevailing 'wisdom' that Sullinger is too short, and doesn't have enough lift to be effective in the paint. He has the heart, he has the nose, and he has the court sense and basketball knowledge to make something good out of a play one way or another. At the very least, this kid can wear down opposing front lines, but I think he can do a lot more. Please let's not make the same mistake with him that we made with Glen Davis. The way I remember it, Davis was ridiculed every time he tried to establish himself in the post. I think Sullinger has the same instincts to attack the post that Davis had, but more so, and with more knowledge and understanding of how to make it work. Let's unleash this guy on the league. He can be on offense what Bradley was on defense last year. Guys will be muttering to him 'man, give it a rest already', as they head up the court after another bruising session with him in the paint...