LONGSHOTS: Lutz of things to think about
by Dave Long
Iíve been trying to buy a computer and itís been a struggle. Partly because when it comes to mechanical devices of any kind, I need more help than the normal person. I mean the last time I brought out the tool belt to fix something, I did such a good job on my dryer, I had to buy a new one when I got done.
So the process takes a while as Iíve got my own way of making a decision. First, I LOVE sports mascots compared to sales people hanging around as I read in a store. Yes, itís their job, but when they hover Iím like Archie Bunker to the Meathead on All in the Family ó ďGet away from me will you.Ē Then I look things over and finally, when I know what I need, I ask questions. Even then, I still had problems getting answers I could understand from the computer geeks. As they blathered on about megabytes, Pentium vs. Celeron and the need for extra RAM, I had to ask them to speak English every third sentence or so. I mean when someone says ram, Iím thinking St. Louis. And, since one says one thing and the next contradicts it, it all gets confusing.
And that was just for buying a $600 computer for crying out loud. Imagine what itís like for highly touted athletes as they make the life-changing decision of selecting a college with all sorts of ďfriendsĒ whispering in their ear about whatís best for, ahem, them. I bring this up because if you can believe the rumor mill, intrigue has entered the picture on the Chris Lutz-to-SNHU story. After he enrolled in summer school two weeks ago, his plans to transfer there hit a snag before his scholarship agreement was signed.
It has rumors flying. One says at least one Division I school has entered the picture, although big fish like Florida and Arizona have been mentioned too. Arizona seems plausible since he scored 17 against them in the tournament ó although moving there might make him a nominee for the Roger Clemens Award since his stated desire upon leaving Purdue was to be closer to home. And, then thereís the buzz heís part of a deal to help current Pembroke coach Matt Alosa and son of his AAU and Trinity High coach Frank Alosa land at URI as an assistant coach.
Which is true? I donít know and Iím not asking because itís none of my business. But it does illustrate whatís involved in the process. First, a coach getting a job by delivering a player is an oldie but goodie in college ball. My friend Jimmy Powell, who coached Mario Eli at AIC, was aced out at Kansas after Larry Brown decided at the last minute to give the job to a former ABA teammate instead. And once Ed Manning got the job, son Danny Manning shockingly showed up on campus not too much later. Even Jamesy wouldnít pass on that trade. Then there was legendary Detroit coach Perry Watson magically going to Michigan after his top player Jalen Rose became the final member of the notorious Fab Five. And while it ended in scandal, it worked out OK for the now very rich Rose, who on his blog calls Watson a father figure.
Why anyone would want to read his blog is a perplexing question for another day.
Prior to acquitting himself quite nicely at Purdue, Lutz was one of the prized players recruited by the senior Alosa to play at Trinity a few years back. And while Alosa certainly had his critics, some no doubt fueled by jealousy over his being able to recruit at a private school, itís hard to dispute he helped five players go to college for free. Anyone dropping between $30K and $40K annually on higher education can appreciate the significance of that. Although, with Lutz moving on, none of his four D-I players remain where they started. But neither have contemporaries Troy Bowen and Corey Hassan, as Bowen is headed to SNHU, while after leaving BU Hassan is now at Sacred Heart.
Kids leave schools for many reasons. None the least of which is that originally they thought they were better than they are. Thatís easy to do when youíre among the best in your state, especially when friends and parents have visions of grandeur and are clueless talent evaluators. And then there are hungry coaches whose jobs depend on wooing impressible kids to their campus. Believe me this process is even more competitive than the games ó where some will say anything to get a player. My favorite story is of the assistant who got caught telling a recruit leaning to North Carolina Dean Smith had cancer and probably wouldnít be there all four years. For honest coaches in this environment itís like being in the CIA during the Cold War following American law when the KGB didnít have to.
But conversely kids make crazy decisions, or just last-minute ones that leave grown-ups trying to do the right thing, like Stan Spirou does at SNHU, holding the bag. Itís part of the deal of course, but still frustrating. Itís why I left coaching after reading an article in SI about the recruitment of Chris Washburn. He was the next great big man at the time and it was about a recruiting process that started at 14. I decided that wasnít for me, since there was no way I was going to beg 16-year-olds to come to my campus. And while not everybody has to do that, when a great prospect like Washburn has the leverage, groveling or worse enters the picture. And, not too long after he went to the NBA one draft slot after Len Bias, the late Jimmy Valvano got fired for recruiting violations at NC State.
So with all these forces at work, you can see how a youngster can have second, third and fourth thoughts trying to make the right decision. And how, after itís made, someone else will be left very frustrated. So what do I hope happens? Strictly as a local basketball guy with long-time ties to SNHU itíd be nice to see him play and prosper on North River Road ó where I think heíd be very good. But if he goes elsewhere Iíll survive, as I donít think heíll quite be another Rob Paternostro whose force of personality and versatile scoring ability was a huge key to three straight visits to the Elite Eight.
But mostly I hope he has people he really trusts as he sorts out the factors of being closer to home, academics, plans for the future, loyalty and the basketball part, what matters most, so he makes a decision thatís best for him and not anyone else.
Dave Long is host of Home Team Saturday with Dave Long and Company, 10 a.m. to noon each Saturday morning on WGAM (1250 AM in Manchester and 900 AM in Nashua).