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Coaches can't be held responsible for all that players do wrong

At some point, players who get in trouble need to be responsible for their own actions.

Indiana Hoosiers head caoch Tom Crean coaches against the Louisville Cardinals during the first half at Madison Square Garden. (Brad Penner/USA Today)
Indiana Hoosiers head caoch Tom Crean coaches against the Louisville Cardinals during the first half at Madison Square Garden. (Brad Penner/USA Today)Read more

ONE OF THE many things I have never understood is why exactly the head coach is responsible for everything his players have ever done, might contemplate doing or will eventually do. Perhaps I am just missing the point, but I really think the players should be responsible for what they do.

Somehow, it has not evolved that way. Now, when a player does something stupid, and players will do stupid things, it is always the coach's fault. The coach should have detected during the recruiting process that a 17-year-old would eventually do something dumb. And, if that player does something wrong and the coach does not immediately order the bus to run over him, said coach is soft and the program is out of control. Compassion and second chances are yesterday's news.

Indiana coach Tom Crean is the latest to get caught up in the "all-knowing coach is responsible for everything that goes on his program" madness. In the last year, there have been multiple arrests and disciplinary violations involving players - last month, three were suspended for four games; they have since been reinstated.

I have talked to Crean on the phone a few times and in person a few times. I certainly don't "know" him. I did not particularly like his act in 2012-13, when he had the No. 1 team for a while and seemed intent on running it up on any team he could. That said, I don't see why he is expected to oversee his players 24/7 and be responsible for everything they do, be it underage drinking, a DUI or a failed drug test.

There are obviously limits, and second chances are not forever chances. Some offenses do not get players another chance, but some do or, at least, should. And the coach should have some discretion.

John Chaney always told me you can be as tough as you want, but you better also find time to put your arm around your players. It made sense when he told me and it still does.

What happened to the scoring?

Remember all the excitement early last season when scoring was up because fouls were actually being called and all those called charges that were actually blocks were being called blocks. Forget it.

After 1,000 games last season, teams were averaging 75 points. After 2,500 games this season, teams are averaging just less than 69 points.

In the 2012-13 season, teams averaged 67.5 points, the lowest since 1951-52. The game had become stale; the sport had tilted hard to the defense.

Once the early-season mismatches were over last season, scoring did go down, but it was still 71 points at season's end, a 3.5-point improvement, a nice start in remaking the game.

This season's scoring trend is ominous. If it is less than 69 points now, what will it be like when conference play begins and coaches become even more conservative?

Where have you gone, Paul Westhead?

Kentucky's numbers

No. 1 Kentucky is certainly not helping to make the game aesthetically pleasing, but the Wildcats are playing defense at a historic level. They are holding teams to only .828 points per possession. Only three of their nine opponents have gotten to 50. They are allowing only 45.8 points and are winning by 31.8 points per game. They are holding teams to 24 percent shooting from the arc, 30 percent inside the arc and a ridiculous 27.9 percent overall. What they don't block (8.9 swats per game), they alter.

The city predictions

Figured I would let everybody play for a few weeks and use the season predictions when my favorite website had a little more data.

Villanova is predicted to finish 26-5 and 14-4 in the improved Big East. Temple is supposed to go 16-15, 8-10 in the American. But remember, the prediction is made off current results, which do not include about-to-be eligible Jesse Morgan and Devin Coleman. Saint Joseph's and La Salle are predicted to have nearly identical records, 14-16, 8-10 Atlantic 10 for the Hawks and 15-16, 8-10 for the Explorers. Drexel, which has been decimated by injuries (again), is supposed to go 14-15, 10-8 in the Colonial. Penn's record is predicted to be 9-19, 5-9 in the Ivy.

We'll check back in 2 months and see what the predictions look like near the end of the regular season.

Son of Mo huge in upset of season

Still not sure how NJIT went to Michigan and won Saturday, but it absolutely happened and was no fluke. NJIT just played better than Michigan. Junior Ky Howard scored 17 points on 7-for-9 shooting for NJIT. Yes, he is the son of St. Joseph's Prep and Maryland great Mo Howard and brother of Villanova assistant Ashley Howard. On the season, Ky is averaging 12.6 points on 61.1 percent shooting.

Remembering Gola

Bob Knight is one of my least-favorite analysts because he seems disengaged from what is actually going on in front of him, but the man does have a memory. He knows and loves the game's history.

Loved how during Saturday's La Salle-Temple game at the Palestra, he explained that his favorite player while growing up in Ohio was La Salle great Tom Gola. Knight went over Gola's game as if he had just seen him play last week. It was a wonderful tribute to a Philadelphia legend.

Great coaching job

Look no further than Jeff Jones at Old Dominion. He left a safe, comfortable job at American to take over an ODU program heading for a new league (Conference USA) after a 5-25 disaster in 2012-13. In his second season, Jones has ODU at 6-1 with wins over LSU and VCU.

Perfect from the floor

Hofstra's Ameen Tanksley (Imhotep Charter) did not miss a shot from the field on Dec. 2 against Norfolk State. He was 9-for-9 from the field, 5-for-5 from the arc and 7-for-9 from the line while scoring 30 points. He was 20-for-25 from three over a four-game span for Joe Mihalich's 6-2 team.

This and that

* University of the Sciences coach Dave Pauley stopped counting texts after 90 following his team's crazy upset at Drexel last Thursday. The best call had to come from UCSB coach Bob Williams, one of Pauley's good friends. Williams wanted to know what Pauley was doing. He told him he was washing his team's uniforms.

* Want a mid-major sleeper to follow in March? Try Northern Iowa. They are 8-0 with blowout wins over Virginia Tech and Northwestern and close wins over Richmond and George Mason. They also went to Stephen F. Austin and ended SFA's 34-game home winning streak.

* Remember Brett Comer, the point guard who threw all those lobs to the ceiling for Florida Gulf Coast at the Wells Fargo Center in March 2013? Well, he is throwing some more. His team is 8-1. He has 58 assists and only 18 turnovers.

* When the NBA season began, UCLA (15) and Arizona (12) had 27 players on rosters.

* The Ivy League had a record eight postseason wins in 2014, counting Harvard's NCAA win, Princeton's CBI success and Yale's long run in the CIT.

* Speaking of bizarre upsets, that really was Yale winning at Connecticut, 45-44, last Friday on a last-second three. The Huskies had won 68 straight against in-state opponents.

* Once the actual tournaments fill their fields in March, I am proposing a four-team elite field with USP, NJIT, Yale and a team to be named. That Final Four will, of course, be held at the Palestra. Tickets will be free.