Digger delves into the state of college hoops
Digger Phelps has never been one to hold back.
As a college basketball analyst for ESPN, he and fellow former Detroit University and Detroit Piston coach Dick Vitale are always trading shots about collegiate hoops.
Tuesday, he was in rare form, dispensing opinions on the state of collegiate hoops.
While there is no denying the mass exodus of both high school and underclassmen stars to the Pros, Phelps feels it is a bunch of sound and fury signifying nothing.
“I don’t that we, at the college level, can do anything about it,” he said. “But, you know what’s amazing to me about that is March Madness is still March Madness.
“Championship week, I love watching Gonzaga because I’m a ‘Zag fan. But, I know Duke is going to show up and Arizona’s going to be there. We had 12 upsets in the first round, that’s what good for the game. It’s the excitement of the first two rounds, then you have the sweet 16 and the final four.”
However, he does realize there needs to be changes to keep the young stars at the collegiate level.
“Money’s a big issue, the good kids will take the money,” said the former Notre Dame coach said. “You can give the kid a million dollar insurance program or a $50 thousand loan, but they don’t want to hear that.
That’s not going to save the college game.”
Rather he feels there should be a better distribution of the funds made on collegiate sports. Schools and conferences make millions of dollars on tournaments and post-season play, while the athletes who make the money machine run, go relatively unpaid.
“They should get a $1000 dollars a month, but they don’t get the cash,” he said. “That should be given to them out of the financial aid office. If you need a plane ticket home, we buy the ticket, here you go.
“If you want food money, here’s food coupon to eat at the cafeteria at night.”
And the money is there. Annually, CBS makes millions on the NCAA tournament.
“The Division I tournament is making $10 million over the next ten year, the money’s there,” he said.
He also has his picks for the upcoming season and Duke is at the top of his list.
“I still think they’ll show up because of (Chris) Duhon and (Jason) Williams,” Phelps said. “They got the guards who can play and (Carlos) Boozer can play.
“(Mike) Dunleavy’s a player and this kid they got from Rutgers, Donte Jones, can play. He sat out this year. The other team you look at is UCLA. This is a solid team this year, look at (Jason) Kapono coming back, (Dan) Gadzruik is a good player and I like Billy Knight as a player.
“Maryland’s got a good team, even though they lost Terrence Morris.”
As for his counterpart on television, Phelps thinks Vitale’s picks are not always right – despite the fact he’s picked the correct champion for three of the last four years.
“That’s because he picks five teams that are all on magazine covers,” Phelps joked. “But three years ago, I was the only one who picked Connecticut over Duke.
“He picked the Dukies because he’s ‘Dicky Dukie’ and I said UConn by three and I was the only media guy to pick them.”
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“Let Them Play,” rallies are taking place across California with a mission to bring back high school and youth sports.