By C. A. Jude Stewart
What national athletic party’s happening this week, with uninvited Jim Crow as the invisible elephant in the all-white coaching room?
Yup, the NCAA men’s national D1 hoop championships.
16 teams, 90% black players.
16 coaches. All white.
Are these overpaid, hustlin’ Honky Tonky’s toastin’ each other with with maniacal ‘Hey Pardner’-smiles, swillin’ martinis, scotch, margaritas, Bud Lights, Guinness Blacks & down-home shots of Deep South corn-pone, backyard-brewed moonshine lickkkkkk’irrrrrrrr (liquor for the literary-slang scholars) out of view of the ubiquitous CBS-ESPN-TNT-TBS-Tru TV cameras, recording it all for posterity?
Yes, I know all about Chaka Khan’s adopted brother (Shaka Smart, VCU’s terrific baldy who led his Rams to 2011’s Final 4; beat No. 5 Wichita State last week, then lost to resurgent Indiana 63-61), Anthony Evans (coach of No. 15 Norfolk State’s giant killers, who dispatched Frank Haith’s vaunted No. 2 Mizzou 86-84) & Western Kentucky’s Ray Harper, who miraculously beat MVSU 59-58 before Kentucky smashed the Hilltoppers 81-66.
These 4 black coaches are among my Top 20-BBCF (best black coaches’ fraternity; see below). Not just because they won Big Dance showcase games, but because they imbue their athletes with the RIGHT values, social attributes & most importantly — the right CHARACTER.
There’s over 5000 D1 varsity NCAA hoop players each year, 80% black. Tens of thousands more play in D2, D3, NAIA, JUCOs & community colleges. Of those, less than 1% will have successful NBA careers.
For every Bill Russell, Kareem, Shaq, Pistol Pete, Jordan, Jerry West, Oscar or Wilt, there’s a million aspirational hoopsters who never make the grade. Rent “Hoop Dreams” or “Black Magic” to learn about local legends & galvanizing black national superstars (from 1940-present) long left behind, long forgotten, long gone.
Economic statistics over the past 40 years prove that dribbling, hitting or running with a ball is NOT a viable exit out of the father-less ghetto, entrenched poverty, crime or hopeless addiction for our gifted young athletes.
The one GUARANTEED exit-strategy (with family & God’s help) is EDUCATION.
Education must be combined with the eternal values/verities of determination, hard work, self-respect (meaning: having no babies AND making no babies til you’ve got a meaningful education, job/career that pays a livable wage, social relationships–family, friends, co-workers–who genuinely love & care about you), rigorous community service, goal-formation & a refusal to adopt street or ‘hood values/culture as the basis of your own ethical/personal choices.
I love March Madness’ annual shindig like Nobody’s Fool.
I love college hoops like folks love their Mama, Old Glory, God, NAS, hot women, Gulf seafood, Southern women, red Corvettes, hot Southern women, slow dancing, football, hot Southern women who love slow dancin’ & fast struttin’ to Robert Johnson, Glenn Miller, Hank Williams, Miles, Patsy Cline, Coltrane, Johnny Cash, Monk, Willie Nelson, Cab, Bird, Count, Lionel, Satchmo, Artie Blake & B.B. King. God bless ‘em all, baby dolls.
I just think March Madness gives too many sporting young folks a delusional belief that the only way out, to riches & fame & immortality — as it did for Pensacola’s Trent Richardson, Emmitt Smith, Roy Jones Jr., & Justin Gatlin; Molino’s Don Sutton; Milton’s Lawrence Hynes (NY Giants) & Cortland Finnegan (SL Rams) — is pro sports.
They’re the EXCEPTION, not the rule. Fame is fleeting, as are riches & hot-roddin’ fine Southern women in red Corvettes, livin’ off yo’ dime.
Here’s my current”Top 20 Black American Hoop Coaches” list:
1) Cliff Ellis, Coastal Carolina (Conway, SC)
2) Leonard Hamilton, FSU
3) Shaka Smart, VCU
4) Anthony Evans, Norfolk State
5) Tommy Amaker, Harvard
6) Ray Harper, W. Kentucky
7) Bruiser Flint, Drexel (Philly, PA)
8) James Jones, Yale
9) Sean Woods, Mississippi Valley
10) Gregg Marshall, Wichita State
11) Paul Hewitt, George Mason (VA)
12) Sydney Johnson, Fairfield (CT)
13) Joe Jones, Boston U
14) Frank Haith, Mizzou
15) Jerome Allen, Penn
16) Johnny Dawkins, Stanford
17) Fang Mitchell, Coppin State (MD)
18) Rodney Terry, Fresno State
19) Corliss Williamson, Central Arkansas
20) Tubby Smith, Minnesota (tie)
20) Craig Robinson, Oregon State (tie)
Here’s the 8 Worst Black D1-Coaches:
1) Isiah Thomas (by far, the worst), FIU
2) Oliver Purnell, DePaul
3) Monte Ross, Delaware
4) Horace Broadnax, Savannah State
5) Bill Courtney, Cornell (Ithaca, NY)
6) Lenny Forrester, SIU-Edmondsville (IL)
7) Chuck Martin, Marist (Poughkeepsie, NY)
8) Trevor Blatant, P. U.