It's never too early to talk about coach of the year, and it's never boring to reminisce about less-than-friendly basketball courts around the country. We asked our coaches which current coaches match their styles and which buildings they particularly disliked bringing their teams to.
Which current coach matches your style of coaching?
Seth Greenberg: "Rick Barnes because you have to know who you are, how to win, and Rick knows who they're going to be defensively, physically. You've got to recruit players who'll play for your head coach, and a big part of that is evaluating. Rick's staff did a great job of evaluating who could play for him. Finding the Grant Williamses, developing the Admiral Schofields, the Jordan Bones, the P.J. Tuckers, back in Texas. To me, Rick coaches his team hard, but he cares deeply about them. He's engaged with them. And you can coach your players hard as long as they know you care about them. It's a form of love: You want to help them get somewhere they can't get to themselves. I was big on player development, and I think Barnes does such a good job on that. We have that and that mindset that it starts on the defensive end."
Fran Fraschilla: "Defensively, Rick Barnes at Tennessee: I worked for Rick for three years, and many of the defensive principles I employed as a head coach I learned from Rick. He was excellent at putting together a defensive system of toughness and accountability. It was necessary because we were coaching in the old Big East, with top-20 teams all over the league. Offensively, I would say a lot like Greg McDermott's teams, in that we tried to play fast but also very efficiently in the half-court offense. I always thought that Greg had -- and still has -- really good concepts to get his best players the ball in their best places on the floor to score."
Dan Dakich: "It's presumptuous of me, but I like what Matt Painter does. I ran a lot of motion offense, and there's not a lot of motion offense; ran a lot of ball screens, and that really moves people, sets a lot of screens away from the basketball. That's the style he grew up with, with Coach [Gene] Keady. Coach Keady and Coach [Bobby] Knight were both very similar. And I like watching them because that is something that we liked to do, both as an assistant and as a head coach."
Which building did you really hate taking your team to?
Seth Greenberg: "I hated going to Boston College. I loved going to Duke, to Carolina -- the environments were great. But when you go to Boston College, the floor was on the ice. It was cold in there. There was no environment, no energy in the building. And you're in a hockey locker room, kind of separated, and it was hard to get your team together. It was such a different environment than anywhere else in the league. We won at Duke, at Carolina, but we couldn't win at Boston College. They had good players, but there was something about going into that building, that the environment was devoid of energy and excitement and urgency. We tried everything to get our guys to understand that it's a tough, different environment than going to a place like NC State, Maryland, elsewhere. It had its own unique set of obstacles that we had to create in our own locker room and within each other. I was big on creating causes, and it was hard to create a cause in that environment because there really wasn't much of one. You play a home game there, in this pro town, and unless they were good, there wasn't good ownership from the student body and the fan base, especially the midweek game. I did a poor job of getting them to the point they needed to be at to compete and beat them because they were a good team. A riddle I had no answer for."
Fran Fraschilla: "Gampel Pavilion at the University of Connecticut. At the time I was at St. John's, they had one of the five best programs in the country, a very hostile fan base and a coach who was soon to be in the Hall of Fame. The noise made a jet engine takeoff sound like a baby's lullaby. It was excruciatingly loud. I remember losing a 10-point lead in regulation in part because our guys were completely distracted by the atmosphere. We were, however, fortunate enough to win, and I think it might have broken a very long home win streak.* It still wasn't fun until the final buzzer went off."
Dan Dakich: "When I was in the MAC ... I really didn't like going to Toledo. Toledo was dark. It was kind of like a big convention center, and it didn't feel 'basketball-y.' It felt 'convention-center-y.' And we usually got our asses beat."
* The St. John's win over UConn on Jan. 8, 1997, snapped the Red Storm's seven-game losing streak to the Huskies. UConn, which entered the game on a seven-game win streak, had won nine games overall at Gampel before that matchup, according to ESPN Stats & Information.