King of the hill. Almost. A host of stories have been written this week about Mack Brown's ability to pocket an astounding 19 commitments from top prospects by March 1. He's "changing the game" and running an "unmatched machine." These aren't empty numbers, either: both our own Big Roy and Barking Carnival's Scipio Tex agree that the early haul is of exceptionally fine quality. As Burnt Orange Beat's Gerry Hamilton told the Statesman, "I think they already have a top-10 class. It's just a matter of whether it becomes top three."
For many of the reasons discussed amply in the links above, I wholeheartedly endorse the position Mack Brown and his staff have staked out. With only one caveat: A critical component of the value in this strategy is rooted in the opportunities the position affords the staff to hone in on the dozen or so best-of-the-best prospects who aren't interested in early commitments. To the extent Mack Brown capitalizes on that position to increase his odds landing some of those kids, the strategy is nothing short of ideal. Contrarily, failing to appreciate and/or take advantage of that benefit drains the strategy of a sizable amount of its value.
Throughout his career at Texas Mack Brown has been at his best when he is hungry and active in looking for ways to squeeze maximum value from his monstrous machine; occasional bouts of complacency and contentedness with "good enough" have led to underachievement. It's in that sense that neither Mack Brown's critics nor his "do no wrong" defenders both have it wrong -- he's accomplished a ton, positioned himself near-ideally, and, yes, can do more yet if he really wants to stick his boot on opponents' throats. Go for it, Mack. (Figuratively speaking, of course. We like that you can and do win Bobby Dodd Awards.)
Bubble burst? With Kansas State's 71-77 loss in Stillwater last night, Bring on the Cats more or less resigns the Wildcats' fate to the NIT. Probably true, though I'm not 100% sure TB's right the 'Cats would need to secure the #4 seed and then beat Texas and KU in the conference tourney just to clear the hump. Texas alone might do the trick, depending what happens with A&M and/or Oklahoma State. Either way, Kansas State needs to thump Colorado and look good reaching the conference semifinals.
The Madness approaches. Speaking of Championship Week... Card Chronicle has as thoroughly outstanding a primer for the Madness as one could possibly hope for. Brilliant.
More Madness. If you missed the end of the Washington State-Arizona State game in Pullman on Saturday... don't. Or if it's jaw-dropping dunks you need to get your March Madness blood roiling, I've got you covered in three easy steps:
3. Marqus Blakely Is Fearless (via the Card Chronicle post mentioned above)