Meet your new Pistons head coach Avery … er … John Kuester!

"Um, excuse me. Can I be your next head coach? Yes? Great"

"Um, excuse me. Can I be your next head coach? Yes? Great"

By H. Jose Bosch

So I guess buying the Army fatigues in anticipation of joining the “Little General’s” ranks was a bit premature. That sucks because I thought the camouflage was rather slimming.

So not long after talks with Avery Johnson fell through, it looks like the Pistons finally have their man in Cavs assistant John Kuester.

Not being completely familiar with the assistant coaching ranks of the NBA, I went to the best source of information on anybody in the world — Wikipedia. This is all I got:

-“In both his junior and senior year (1979 and 1980), Kuester was voted UNC’s best defensive player. Also in his senior year, as was voted Most Valuable Player of the ACC Tournament and the NCAA East Regionals.” (Not too bad)

-“From 1985 to 1990 he was the head coach at George Washington University. His 1988-1989 Colonials team compiled a 1-27 record, one of the worst ever in NCAA history.” (Ouch)

-“Via, close sources say Kuester is to be named head coach of the Detroit Pistons, to be formally announced July 8, 2009.” (Hey, that’s what I’m talking about!)

So yeah, not too many career highlights.

For what it’s worth Kuester was an assistant for seven years under mercenary NBA coach Larry Brown and one of those years was 2004 with the Pistons and we all know what happened then. It’s good karma!

This isn’t the kind of hire that rips attention away from all the free agency signings that will be officially announced in the coming days. At the same time I can’t say it’s a terrible hire.

Kuester has experience in an NBA locker room (he played some pro ball and he’s been an assistant since 1990) and he doesn’t have the ego or I’m-burning-myself-out intensity that made Johnson and Doug Collins risky choices.

The biggest problem may be that Kuester is too nice according to Mike Rosenberg. But as the same column pointed out, Kuester did earn the respect of Pistons players in 2004 because he was the only assistant who stood up to Brown. So he may be a good guy but he has a spine.

I personally would’ve preferred Johnson. He’s fiery, he’s won as an NBA coach, and he has a funny sounding voice, which would’ve been gold for this site.

But the Kuester hiring won’t be a disaster.

Team USA, College B-Ball Celebrities Descend on Chicago

By Paul M. Banks

Last week, the International Olympic Committee visited Chicago to further evaluate the city’s 2016 Olympic bid. This week, Team USA basketball’s most prominent leaders, along with other basketball celebrities from around the nation, will visit Chicago as the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Foundation holds its inaugural “Court of Honor Gala” at Union Station.

The Tuesday evening Gala celebrates the achievements and contributions of Jerry Colangelo, chairman of the NBA’s Phoenix Suns and managing director of the USA Basketball senior national team from 2005-2008.

Colangelo, a Chicago native and University of Illinois graduate, assembled the 2008 U.S. Olympic team, coached by another Chicagoan, Duke University coach Mike Krzyzewski, who will speak at the Gala. Krzyzewski guided the “Redeem Team” to Olympic gold in Beijing this past summer.

Chris Bosh of the Toronto Raptors, a member of the Olympic team, will also speak at the event and former Duke star and current ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas will serve as master of ceremonies. I had an exclusive with Bilas at the NABC’s ESPN Zone mixer on Monday night.

“It’s going to be one of those rooms with all the people who have been great doers in the game of college basketball. I think the biggest development we’ve had over the last 30 years in USA basketball is when Jerry Colangelo took over as Executive Director and formed a real program that we can now build on. We’ve had so many great coaches and players over the years in USA basketball, but we haven’t had the structure to give them the tools they need to be as successful as they can be.

I think the program put in place by Jerry Colangelo, working with Coach K and everybody at USA basketball- that was a big home run they hit in Beijing, but it was also over a three-year period. What they did the three years before was perhaps more important: with the structure, organization, how they choose the team, the commitment that all the players made, it wasn’t just a commitment for the summer, it was a three-year commitment,” Bilas said.

Krzyzewski will also lead a group of some of the nation’s top collegiate coaches in the NABC Foundation’s Ticket To Reading Rewards (TTRR) program. The coaches will visit Chicago middle schools to visit with students and the TTRR program, a reading incentive program that encourages Middle School students to read books outside the classroom and obtain rewards for reading.

In addition to Krzyzewski, coaches scheduled to participate include Jim Boeheim of Syracuse, an assistant coach with the 2008 Olympic team; Mike Brey of Notre Dame; Jeff Capel of Oklahoma; Tom Izzo of National Runner-up Michigan State; Bill Self of Kansas, the 2008 NCAA champion; Tubby Smith of Minnesota; Kentucky’s recent hire John Calipari; and Bruce Weber of Illinois.

Tubby Time at TSB

By Paul M. Banks and Rikki Greenberg

Orlando “Tubby” Smith is currently the men’s basketball head coach at the University of Minnesota. Smith previously served in the same role at the University of Tulsa, the University of Georgia, and most recently, University of Kentucky. Smith’s coaching has had an immediate impact on the previously inept Gophers squad. The team went from 8–22 in 2006-2007 to 20–14 in 2007-2008.

Smith also led his Golden Gophers to the Big Ten Tournament semi-finals after defeating 2nd seeded Indiana. Coach Smith also harvested a top 25 recruiting class, the best in years for the program. In 2008, Smith had the highest salary of any employee of the State of Minnesota.

The legendary coach’s resume includes a national title, 5 SEC Championships, and three coach of the year awards. My apprentice Rikki and I asked him a few questions after his team got upset by Northwestern.

Coming off an emotional win at Wisconsin, his team displayed a lack of energy at Northwestern, especially in the second half. Tubby talked about why they possibly had a (please excuse the horrible cliché) “trap” game.

“You got to be able to match the level of intensity and if you don’t, you’re not going to win. I think the guys tried and we went to a line up, we tried a lot of different defensive adjustments and changing our defensive ability. I know we played hard and with energy. We’re a good team, but we don’t have that guy to take over and dominate the inside.”

In the midst of his presser, a spider dropped in on the podium. Tubby commented on the unsuspecting party crasher
“It’s a good sign right? (laughter ensues) Even he’s got the best of the Gophers! I’m going to crush him.”

You go man!

A reporter there asked him “whether or not the loss to Northwestern was a good thing for the team?” (que? Huh? What? Why?)

“Oh no, I don’t think there is any good time for a loss, but if there’s one time to be had certainly to get one behind a good win. I think it was a real attention getter for our guys…to understand how hard they have to prepare and play and I thought that was important. We played a lot of guys so we should have found that combination, but we couldn’t.”

Finally, Tubby commented on how NU plays a “unique brand of basketball” with their Princeton set on offense and their 1-3-1 zone on defense. Mr. Banks (not Lacey Banks of the Chicago Sun-Times, but our own Mr. Banks) asked him what the biggest difference between the current Northwestern team is from the NU team Minnesota played last year, and in what areas they improved the most from last year…

“Northwestern doesn’t win a lot of games and they’ve battled through some of the toughest teams in the league. Today they looked they corrected some things I saw on the tape. A lot of it had to with shots…a lot of lay-ups and when you don’t shoot well, your problems get magnified.”