One of our two KSR editors, Tyler Thompson, is on vacation this week so being the good boss that I am, I volunteered to pick up a night post tonight to try and take some of the load off Drew Franklin. Tonight’s post was supposed to be a simple affair, in which I reviewed the state of Kentucky basketball recruiting, Mark Stoops’ comments today at the KSR Tour and the overall awesomeness of Slice Rohrssen. But then, like the evil dictator that he is, Coach K had to come out of nowhere and ruin my night. With one rumored decision, Coach K has once again topped my list of most disliked people in this great country. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported tonight that after Camp Team USA has been completed, it is expected that Coach K will pick Mason Plumlee to represent the team at the World Cup of Basketball over Demarcus Cousins. I want you to read that sentence again, this time with focus and if you are drinking, when you have become sober. Demarcus Cousins is reported to likely not make Team USA because Coach K prefers MASON FREAKING PLUMLEE!!!!
That sounds made up right? Like if you were going to create a “Coach K is the worst and favors mediocre white Duke players over talented skilled professionals,” Onion piece, you would probably title it “Coach K picks a Plumlee over Boogie,” wouldn’t you? It can’t be real. Coach K can’t favor a reserve averaging 7.4 points and 3.8 rebounds a game over Demarcus’s 22 and 15, can he? Demarcus Cousins is legitimately one of the top 5-8 big men in the NBA. His numbers this season probably should have made him a third team All NBA center and most people who know the game say he is about to have a 2-3 year breakout that could put him (along with Anthony Davis) as a potential All Star starter. And Mason Plumlee…well he was a decent reserve on an underperforming Brooklyn Nets team. Yet Coach K would rather have that Plumlee, Mason..or maybe its Miles, who heck the knows the difference, instead of Demarcus “you can’t guard me” Cousins. Sure thing K.
Its a headline and story so baffling that it almost defies belief. Look at these statistics comparing the two big men:
So the numbers aren’t even in the same ballpark. Now some may say, “but Matt, Mason is a good team player and Demarcus is a trouble maker!” Says who? What has Demarcus done that has really “caused trouble?” Yes, he has had a temper in games and has a number of technicals. But if he is on Team USA and he is in that mode, guess what he will do…be on the bench? And whoever would come in and take his place would certainly be much better than Mason Plumlee. But what has Demarcus ever done off the court to be a team chemistry killer? What teammates has Demarcus had that are not fans of him as a player? And would he not be on the same team as guys who are friends of his and former Calipari players like Anthony Davis and Derrick Rose (and possibly John Wall). One of the things that we learned long ago at Kentucky is that Demarcus excels based in part on those around him. What could be better for him, and what role could he serve better in, than on a team of other top talents with a common goal, all the while actually winning games.
I could break down the International game and tell you why Demarcus would also play well in that style (he is tough, rebounds, is physical and can hit a mid range jumper). Give me a skill that Miles Plumlee has that Demarcus Cousins does not…you can’t. The reality is that there is no explanation for a Plumlee over Demarcus except the Duke connection. Plumlee is not one of the top 40 big men in the NBA and putting him on the team would be the utmost in Duke favoritism over skill. Over the years we have seen Coach K shun top talent to put floor slapper in the game that are often scrappy, but underachieve in big games (hello Lehigh and Mercer). But to have those same odd decisions while with Team USA, that seems bizarre at best.
The only good thing about this decision? It once again confirms to me that Coach K is the worst. Over the years, Coach K had slowly backed down from his sole perch atop my disliked list that he climbed up in 1992 (sharing it with Laettner). Between saying the occasional nice thing about UK, winning at a high level and leading the USA to a gold medal (all the while praising Anthony Davis as the next star of the NBA), had slowly made me forget that at Coach K’s core is a black hole. He is the coach of the least likable team in basketball history, full of players that are spoiled and snotty, and helped in their success by an adoring media and a constant badgering of officials that borders on psychological warfare. I had forgotten that K, the one who looks like a rat and makes your blood boil during home games in Cameron Indoor. He had been replaced by the humble Coach K who lost to Mercer and then looked noble entering their locker room and congratulating them after the embarrassing upset.
Not anymore…picking Plumlee over Boogie reminds us that all good Coach K moments are a facade for the real Coach K. The real Coach K favors Duke and the worst of humanity over Boogie, the Big Blue Nation and all that is good. I had forgotten that I hate Coach K, but leave it to the Brown eyed Blue Devil to remind me by replacing a great American on the team of the Red, White and Blue. You won’t fool me again K…you are the worst.