CRAWFORD BLOG | My own pre-Grand Canyon news conference
Eric Crawford conducts his own pregame news conference. Read it here.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — It seems a small Twitter debate has fired up over Rick Pitino’s lack of recent media availability.
In this case, “small” can also be translated as, “among media members.” In my experience, the University of Louisville could announce a special media shuttle, then drive it straight into the Grand Canyon before the next home game and few would lose sleep over it.
I wrote about Pitino and the subject of his availability after Louisville’s loss at Michigan State on Wednesday. I haven’t spoken to Pitino about the issue.
The extent of my knowledge of any availability issue is that Pitino said some things that raised some NCAA flags around the time Katina Powell appeared on ESPN, and was told that any further comments the NCAA found objectionable could result in a letter of reprimand. That’s why he missed ACC Media Day. I wrote about that, and I don’t know about the rest of it.
I do know you don’t want to get a letter of reprimand from the NCAA, because ESPN would post the heck out of that on its little crawl.
As for his recent no-shows, I don’t know. Kenny Klein told Rick Bozich on Friday that his availability before games the rest of the season is undecided, but that he plans to talk after most games, unless there are extenuating circumstances, like wanting to spend longer talking to his team, which was the reported reason for Wednesday’s absence.
Whatever. Frankly, 90 percent of the time, I don’t care. Press conferences are overrated. They mainly exist in order for TV stations to get things to fill their sportscasts. It’s pretty rare that anyone says anything that’s big news, and if they do, you’ve already seen it via live stream before I can write it anyway.
Occasionally there’s a big event where the press conference is the news. But for the average basketball game, that’s not the case.
Postgame comments, to me, are more important. Fans want to hear from the coach. And, especially if I’ve driven six hours through dreary weather to East Lansing, Mich., I do, too.
But it doesn’t make or break my column. It’s the beauty of being an opinion writer. Ninety percent of the time, I don’t use any of that stuff anyway.
I can’t tell you how many Pitino press conferences I’ve been to. I wrote a book with him. I pretty much know what he’s going to say at a pre-game press conference before he says it anyway — and his are better than most. I’d say I can make a good guess three-quarters of the time on what Pitino generally will say, once I hear the question. Post-game, all bets are off. He knows basketball too well for me to guess, just based on one look at a game, what he’s going to come away with.
But pregame? Look, I can do this. Half the fans in this state accuse me of being a mouthpiece for Pitino anyway, so I’m taking charge here. He doesn’t want to do a press conference? No problem.
This is my dream scenario. Not only do I get to ask all the questions, but I get to answer them. It’ll be fine.
So, having launched into that rather exhaustive setup, here’s my pregame news conference.
Kenny Klein: Everybody good? All right coach, opening statement.
Coach Eric Crawford: Thank you Kenny for that warm introduction. We’re really excited to get back onto the court to play Grand Canyon. My respect for them is off the charts. They are, without question, the best team we will have faced since I began holding fake press conferences. We’re going to have our hands full. Questions?
Reporter: What concerns you about Grand Canyon?
CEC: Well the big thing with Grand Canyon is that you don’t want to get yourself in too big a hole early.
Reporter: Is that a joke?
CEC: Am I smiling?
Reporter: Well, could you elaborate?
CEC: They’re a tough team, because if you want to play fast — and I don’t know how much video you all have watched of the old Road Runner-Wile E. Coyote cartoons, but trust me, we’ve watched a lot — if you play too fast, you come to one of those hairpin turns and fly right off it, and pretty soon you’re falling through the air and landing in one of those little poofs of dust. So, we’re going to try to avoid that.
Reporter: Uh, yeah. Anything about their personnel?
CEC: Here’s the deal. You don’t need me to break the other team down. Let me clue you in on this. All I’m going to do — at least for the purposes of media, because why would I give you the real stuff that we’re working on and breaking down from our own film study? — is give you some general info. And here’s the formula. Take Grand Canyons’ stat sheet, find the two or three most impressive things, and hype the hell out of them. So, looking at Grand Canyon, I would tell you that they’re one of the top 20 teams in the nation in defensive field-goal percentage and among the best in limiting opponent three-point shooting percentage. So they are a serious defensive team, which means we have to make some major improvements in our own defense after Michigan State. This could, honestly, be a game in the 20s. Then, you see, I find their best player, and hype him up a lot. Their top scorer, Grandy Glaze, is a tremendous scorer, he’s going to take nearly a third of their shots. He’s 6-6, 235, a transfer from Saint Louis, a senior, and we know the kind of difference those guys can make on a team. He’s like a smaller version of Karl Malone. And then finally, I add another statement, like, “We’re going to have our work cut out for us,” (if I expect a 10-20 point win) or “We’re going to be up against it,” (21-35 point win) or “We’re going to have our hands full,” (36-plus point win). Credit Pat Forde with that scale. In this way, you can write your own scouting reports on teams, and not bother me with it.
Reporter: What about their coach, Dan Majerle?
CEC: He was a great player in the pros, and has done an outstanding job at Grand Canyon, obviously has them 6-0 this season, which I think is their second in Division I. So that’s not a good job, it’s a great job. Majerle is a God in parts of the Southwest. No, really. An actual Deity. He also worked at ESPN, so I’m going to have to not comment on him further on advice of counsel.
Reporter: You can’t talk about ESPN?
CEC: Or to ESPN. No.
Reporter: And counsel has advised you not to talk to or about them?
Reporter: And who is your counsel?
CEC: Myself. Next question.
Reporter: So, um, how do you think your team will respond after an emotional game at Michigan State. Do you worry about them being flat?
CEC: No, and I’ll tell you why. We have great respect for Grand Canyon. We know how good they are. The Grand Canyon is 277 miles long and over 6,000 feet deep. Did you even know that? You, because you sleep till noon, and probably aren’t even really awake even now, have no idea how good they are. But our guys know what they’re up against. Because we’ve told them. You don’t get to be 6-0 against the likes of Black Hills State without being pretty good. They beat Mississippi Sate by 40. Or close to that. Is that right, Kenny?
Klein: Mississippi Valley State, by 34, I think.
CEC: What does he know? They’re a very good basketball team.
Reporter: It’s interesting that you have decided to play a game at Grand Canyon next season. How did that come about?
CEC: It’s a funny story. I told Kevin Miller that if we play enough expensive road games in far-away, remote locations, we could bankrupt The Courier-Journal. And he laughed and scheduled the game.
Reporter: How are you and the team doing considering the distraction of all these allegations?
CEC: You know it’s funny, I see what you’re doing with that question. It’s not a question about the allegations, it’s a question about how we’re doing. But it’s still a question about the allegations. You know I’m not supposed to talk about the allegations. But if I start talking about how we’re handling it, I might say something about them, which would be about the only news I make today, because I’ve made a careful effort to say nothing even remotely interesting. So, to your question, I can tell you that not doing press conferences cuts down on the distraction considerably. And I’m handling that great.
Reporter: And what are your thoughts on the allegations?
CEC: Just to clarify, am I, Eric Crawford, involved in any of the allegations?
CEC: All right, good. What I would say is this. Why does the school even have a lawyer? We’re talking about criminal behavior here. If there were women in the dorms trying to sell sex or even stripping for groups of players that may have included underage guys as recruits, they’re predators and need to be investigated and prosecuted. If a former member of our basketball extended staff had a role in bringing them into the dorm and paying them money, he needs to be prosecuted. And once all that is done, the NCAA can determine how culpable we are and what penalty we face. I’m not sure what all these lawyers are doing, except for billing by the hour.
Reporter: What do you say to reports claiming you should have known what was going on?
CEC: I understand what these people are saying, I do. But let me ask you a question. Whenever a crime is committed, you watch the family of accused on TV, or the neighbors, and what do they say?
Reporter: Well, they . . .
CEC: That’s rhetorical. They say, “We had no idea.” They say, “This is a shock.” And why do they say that? Why didn’t they know? Because what the accused person was doing was ILLEGAL! People don’t go around talking about it if they do illegal things. They try to hide it. And criminals, if they really are criminals, are some of the best at hiding stuff. Especially in this case, which involves stuff that — allegedly — not only was illegal, but against NCAA rules, most likely, if it happened exactly the way she says it did, which I highly doubt, but it’ll all come out in the end, so we’ll know. I can tell you this. I wish I had known. Because I would’ve had a heck of a story.
Reporter: Wait, are you a coach, or a columnist?
CEC: For the purposes of this press conference, I’m both. It’s my column. You don’t like it, stop reading. Anything else? Anyone?
Drop mic. Head out.
You can leave my share of the $2.5 million media payment at will call.
Copyright 2015 WDRB News. All Rights Reserved. You may follow Eric Crawford via Twitter @ericcrawford. He is available for news conferences seven days a week.