Odom gives Cards nod, says Leslie should stay
For those still tracking their NCAA Tournament brackets, former Wake Forest basketball coach Dave Odom said he believes the team that made Duke leave the Big Dance will end up winning Monday night at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
“I think Louisville is the team to beat,” Odom said.
Wichita State has a shot at getting past the Cardinals today in the semifinals, but not if the Shockers are out there at half court trying to defend those Louisville guards.
Odom, who coached at the old Durham High School, spoke to the Durham Sports Club on Wednesday at Croasdaile Country Club. He touched on matters ranging from the state of ACC basketball to what’s wrong with the NCAA — too many rules, too many committees, he said.
And Odom answered questions from members of the sports club who wanted to know, among other things, his thoughts on Chris Collins leaving Duke to take over at Northwestern.
“He’s been a head coach sitting in an assistant’s chair for a long time,” Odom said.
Most coaches with Collins’ stature tend to accept jobs at schools whose teams regularly are in the upper halves of their conferences, Odom said. Northwestern is not in that category, but it made a difference that Collins is from that area.
“There’s really nothing to lose there, because they’ve never made the NCAA Tournament and he believes he can get that done,” Odom said. “He’s going back as kind of a favored son. I don’t think it’d be a good job for Steve Wojciechowski. But I do think it’s a good job for Chris Collins.”
C.J. Leslie has decided to leave N.C. State, but Odom said he should think again before heading to the NBA.
“C.J. Leslie definitely doesn’t need to go,” Odom said. “Basketball-wise, he doesn’t need to go because he can’t make on-the-move decisions. C.J. Leslie is good as long as he’s got an open path to the basket, and he can dunk the ball and then turn around and look at the crowd.
“But if the path to the basket presents obstacles that he’s got to make decisions on, then close your eyes if you’re a Wolfpack fan.”
While some argue that only 20 to 25 college players leave school for the NBA after their freshman seasons, those figures must be multiplied to account for the number of years of college ball those youngsters forego, Odom said.
“That’s 100 kids, and that does make a difference,” Odom said. “So your 100 best, most-talented players who could be playing college basketball are in the NBA. Every year, it’s that way. So the coaches who are coaching today don’t coach the best players. They don’t.”
A member of the sports club asked Odom if coaches should be made to sit out if they accept coaching jobs at other schools in the same way that student-athletes are required to miss a season when they transfer.
“The answer is no, and I’ll tell you why,” Odom said.
When an attorney leaves one law firm to go practice elsewhere, Odom explained, he or she is not required to sit out a year and college basketball coaches should be viewed the same way.
Odom also isn’t a fan of conference realignments.
“I really don’t see what they’ve done as being a good thing,” Odom said.
Realignments not only water down rivalries but also make it difficult for teams such as Wake Forest to regain traction in the ACC, Odom said.
That said, Odom believes realignment will help ACC basketball with the addition of Louisville and others.
The conference landscape has settled for now, but there likely will be more movement.
What those conference movers and shakers should have done was allow college football to have its own conference configuration and leave the other sports alone, Odom said. It’s expensive to have college basketball teams traveling all over the country playing games, and those costs end up getting passed on to the fans, he said.
“Football was overpowering most of the decisions,” Odom said.