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The Blade [a DDSCB3 story]

Started By Wayne23, Feb 16, 2015 06:40 PM

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#21

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November 27
 
We started off 2-2, being very inconsistent. We knew we’d need to find our lineup over time and the process was proving difficult. Wright State managed a deal with the local public TV station to televise all of our away games (They wanted home games but would not get them until we started to consistently sell out). This meant that Mai saw all of our games (And recorded the away games on her VCR). She had lots to say about how the team was doing and what changes needed to be made.
 
Ball handling was great but rebounding was a definite issue. I didn’t wait to pull the trigger, making changes at SG and PF. This would likely not be the final solution but it was a start. Mai was happy with me for acting so quickly. I reminded her that we were playing some pretty good teams early on and that we would likely take some lumps, especially since our next four were on the road.
 
December 11
 
We split those four road games and I was satisfied with that. Mai wasn’t. Our problem was at SG, which both of us, as well as the entire staff knew. The problem was finding a solution. 
 
“You need to try the freshman.”
 
“Hite?”
 
“Yes. When you put him in he scores points, and he does not turn the ball over.”
 
“I just don’t think he’s ready.”
 
“The three you use at SG now will never be ready.”
 
Oops! I told her I’d think it over, discuss it with staff, and put him in with the first unit from time to time at practice. That wasn’t quite good enough for her but she shrugged and went on to other topics. Hm… Hite…
 
When I brought it up with staff I was bombarded. It appears that they were all wondering what I’d been waiting for. Okay, okay. Hite will start at 2 in our next game. What do I know, I’m just the head coach.
 
December 18
 
Two wins. Okay, okay but they were both at home. Hite? 7, 4, 4, and 9, 6, 4 with a total of 3 TOs for the two games. I’m telling the press it was all my idea.
 
December 26
 
We proceeded to lose our last pre-conference game, at home. Hite played very well but our PG, Cris Byde was in foul trouble all night, and that’s what did us in. We need more than 18 minutes from him, especially 18 lousy minutes.
 
6-5, RPI #71. We played better teams than we’ll see in conference but 6-5 isn’t great.
 
Mam and dad came down for the holidays, just in time to see us lose that last game. It was more than time for them to meet Mai and her family. Things could not have gone better. It was a great XMas. My folks left on the 27th since I was heading out of town for a game.
 
January 1
 
Happy 1999, except not quite. We won our first conference game on the road then lost at home when we shot 29%. This season is getting to be a project. I’m frustrated and Mai is manic. She is NOT a good loser. Well, you know the old saying, “Show me a good loser and I’ll show you a loser.”
Hite is miles better than anyone else at SG but we have no bench. When I sub in it all goes downhill. We need depth.
 
January 15
 
We lost one then won our last 3. Are we beginning to jell? I hope so, but we have a tough road game followed by a home game with the first place team so this week will tell us a lot.
 
January 22
 
Lost the road game by 1 then crushed the first place team. That loss really hurt.
 
At the halfway point we are 11-8, 5-3, in 4th but ½ game away from 1st.We need to go at least 6-2, hopefully 7-1 in the 2nd half.
 
January 29 Everyone hit our SAT score but we still haven’t landed that second guard.
 
We are now in a four way tie for 1st place. The stress is almost too much for Mai. I try to take all of this in stride.
 
February 5
 
Big road win and we held serve at home. Alone in 1st with 3 teams one game back. We’re finally playing well, 4 straight wins, 7 of 8. Win Hoop at C, Cris Byde at PG, and Hal Main at SF are leading us but Hite has made a huge difference since we put him in the starting lineup. Kemp is okay at PF but that’s still a spot I’d like to get more from.
 
February 12
 
My little kitten is all happy again. 2 more wins. Only Green Bay is 1 back, everyone else is 2 or more games behind us. 6 in a row, 9 of 10. Byde had a career high 32 in the road game this week.
 
“Papa Joe, how would you feel if I got an actual kitten for Mai?”
 
“This is a nice idea. I think she would like this very much. Why do you ask me this though?”
 
“Well, she is still living im your home and will be until we marry in May so I wanted to be sure it was okay for you to have a kitten in your home.”
 
“Ah. Yes, this is fine.”
 
February 19
 
Two more wins. Still 1 up. Green Bay is lurking. If we lose one they are right there.
 
Mai LOVED the kitten.
 
Bracket Breaker next, which is not something I love. You zoom in for the game and play with no rest or you zoom out after it and play the next game with no rest. This year caught a break, thankfully. Yesterday was at home and so is the bracket breaker, and we don’t play at Milwaukee for three days. With only a one game lead I do NOT want to play a conference game with my kids jet lagged and exhausted.
 
We won by 9. All five starters in double figures. One to play and we are 7-0 in the 2nd half. 9 straight wins, 12 of 13.
February 22
 
Mai came to Milwaukee with us. She really wanted to be at this game since it’s such a big one. Dani came to chaperone. Yep, Papa Joe is definitely old fashioned. Oh well, wedding will be here soon.
 
We won by 4 and Green Bay lost their last two so we win the conf. by 3 games and we’ll host the tournament. 20-8, 13-3, RPI #40. We have a week off. I’ll give the guys two days off to rest and to let little nagging injuries heal. Then it’s back to work.


#22

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March 5
 
It’s Detroit in the semi-finals after our two byes. Detroit finished last but got hot and pulled two upsets in the early rounds. We beat them by 5 both times so this is not an automatic win.
 
69-62. It took a long time but eventually we took control, building the lead to 13 with 3:33 to play. Byde, Hoop, and Main, as usual, led us but Hite and Kemp also played well.
 
March 6
 
It’s 2nd place Green Bay, 19-10, 10-6, for the title. They won by 15 there, then we won by 12 here. We’re definitely stronger inside so that’s where we’ll try to play the game.
 
64-56. Champs! Again, all 5 starters contributed. A big win for us. 
 
We’ve won 12 in a row, 15 of 16. RPI is #31. 22-8.
March 12
 
Lots of excitement here. I don’t think a #7 or #8 is unrealistic with our RPI. Damn! #13 in the East. They did it to us again! We play #4 Creighton, 26-3. They have an edge outside but I think we have an edge inside. Again, we’ll try to play the game inside.
 
March 16
 
65-57! Hal Main had 20, and he seemed to hit a shot every time we needed one. We got 40 RBs (+15). All 5 starters did well and we actually got some bench help from Rash and John. Big win!
 
Now we get to play #5 seed, #10 ranked- how does a #10 ranked team wind up as a #5 seed-  UConn, 23-10 against much stronger competition. They are the stronger team but I think we have a shot at this one. We need to play our best ball, though. Their starting SF is banged up. He’ll play but not at 100%.
 
March 18
 
50-55. We built an 8 point lead then. Byde got hurt early, played only 14 minutes. Then his sub got hurt.  We hung tough but it was not to be. I couldn’t be prouder of my guys. Too bad that Cris Byde’s college career ended with an injury.
 
Great season! Mai cried for a long time after the game. Matter of fact she’s still crying off and on and it’s 3:00 a.m. Need to get her home to that rascally kitten of hers. He makes things better no matter what. Best idea I ever had.
 
March 25
 
That UConn team just beat #1 in the country Kentucky by 12. Makes us look pretty good!
 
April 1
 
Mai and I are here at the final 4- with Dani as chaperone. Highest ranked team is #5 (Oregon), followed by #8 (UConn), followed by 2 unranked teams. Interesting.
 
UConn won, but Oregon was upset by unranked Ohio State.
 
April 3
We lost to the champs, UConn by 5.
 
April 4
 
Lots of great conversations at the final four. Mai and Dani and I really enjoyed the trip.
 
“Someday we come here with one of your teams, Blade.”
 
“That’s the goal, Mai.”
 
Awards: Win Hoop, our Center, got POY, Defensive POY, and 1st team along with Hal Main. Cris Byde got 2nd team, should have been first. I got the Coach award, which made Mai very happy.
 
I’m not going anywhere but it will be interesting to see what sort of offers come this way.
 
April 9
 
A couple that might have tempted me some, but nothing spectacular. Next year we’ll be ready to move on so I need another good year here.
April 16
 
We finally signed that 2nd guard.
Bud informed today that he will retire after next season. That will probably work out since we hope to be out of here after next season but it’s hard to imagine doing this without him at my side. We hired two assistants. Bud and I agreed on both hires.
 
March 30
 
The end of another season. I ask for a facilities upgrade. Nope. Surprised, I thought I’d earned it, and we sure brought money in. We sold 98% of the available tickets for the season as well as bringing the tournament here. Oh well.
 
My numbers: 165-82, .668. Off- 27, Def- 43, Recruit- 90, Scout- 42, Player Development- 35. Reputation- 31.
 
Wedding is in two days and the place is buzzing with activity and excitement. Can’t wait!


#23

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May 1
 
My wedding day. When Papa Joe brought Mai down the aisle she was so stunningly beautiful it was all I could do not to cry. Bud Sneed was my best man, of course. The wedding was perfect. Everything went just the way we wanted it to go, both our families were there, as was everyone else we wanted to be a part of it. I left Bud in charge of the team and flew my beautiful bride to Hawaii for a week. The honeymoon was even more perfect than the wedding.
 
Then it was back home and back to work. Mai expects to finish up her doctorate and defend in March or April so if the offer comes, we’ll move at the end of the season.
 
My team is short one guard. We’ll be tough inside but an injury to a guard will put us in deep trouble unless someone makes some real progress. That is always possible, and there’s plenty of time for it to happen.
 
June 26
 
We weren’t able to pick up any transfers so 7 scholarships. We need guards, I want at least 5, and maybe 6. Looking at 30 to start with.
 
After two months of married life I have to say I love it. We’re still both way too busy, and we don’t see enough of each other, but now it’s a shared life, and it’s great.
 
September 18
 
Mai made some sort of breakthrough in her research and she feels like she now has everything she needs to complete the writing of her dissertation. She is very excited about that. Pape Joe and Mama Li are wonderful to us. They are helpful in any number of ways without overwhelming us or intruding on us.
 
Recruiting is going well. We haven’t gotten any commitments but several guys seem close.
 
Schedule is a little stronger than last year.
 
October 2
 
We’ve been married five months and one day and it’s still terrific. I have never been happier.
 
We have commitments from a PG and an SF and we feel that a few others are close.
 
First day of practice and yes, we are definitely weak at guard. Fortunately we are both strong and deep inside.
We’re picked to win the conference again.
 
November 6
 
Wholesale changes following the exhibitions. Win Hoop, at C, is my best player. T. J. Hite is really all I have at PG. He’s the one guy who simply cannot get hurt for any length of time. Every backup is a non-Point Guard just filling in. I’ve got Hal Main at SG, Ward Arp at SF, Deek Hood at PF, and Jim Hawk in for the guards, Don Kemp and Ed Jake in for the bigs. So PG and C are set, but 2, 3, 4 are all wide open. Let’s see how it goes.
 
Mai and I had a long talk about the probability that this is our last year at Wright State and that this is definitely Bud Sneed’s last season, at his request. 
 
“It’s okay to move. I know we need to do this so you can be successful big time coach. Losing Bud will be hard. He is wonderful.”
 
As always, Mai hit it on the nose. We’re both excited about the start of the season.
 
We had an early road game in Hawaii with a few days to do some tourist stuff. Mai went with us, of course. To be fair, the other coaches’ wives came along as well.
 
November 20
 
We won our first two games, both on the road. Hawaii was beautiful and romantic. Now it was home with UNLV and then Mississippi.
 
November 27
 
We lost to UNLV when T. J., for the 2nd time in 3 games, was in foul trouble all night. I was all over his butt. He’s the one guy who needs to stay in the game. We bounced back against Ole Miss when T. J. stayed out of foul trouble.
 
December 11
 
As T. J. goes, we go. We beat Utah and Penn, both ranked, and lost to two mediocre teams because T. J. got into foul trouble. 5-3 and very frustrated.
 
December 18
 
Same story. Against Dayton T. J. fouled out after turning it over 9 times. We lost. Against Georgia he committed 2 fouls and 2 TOs. We won. And again, he’s it. There is simply no one behind him. I hope to have 5 PGs next year. I am really going after them. 3 already signed.
 
December 26
 
In a plane headed for our first in conference game. We ended the preconference season with a ridiculous 45-31 win over Xavier. Middle school score. But, it was a win and T. J. stayed out of foul trouble. We end up 7-4.
 
We had a great XMas. My family was not able to join us but Papa Joe, Mama Li, Dani, Mai and I had a wonderful day.
 
January 1, 2000
 
Happy new millennium!
 
We start with two wins. 
 
I ring in the new year with my beautiful wife and then it’s back on a plane. Mai is working very hard on her dissertation and expects to finish early, perhaps as early as Feb. 1. She hopes to defend in early March.
 
January 8
 
A tough 1 point loss in Detroit. Then a win at home. 
 
January 22
 
For the most part T. J. has been staying in the game but he reverted against Valparaiso and we lose. At the halfway point we are 6-2, 1 back of Detroit. 
February 5
 
T. J. hurt his calf and we lost a game. Then came 1st place Detroit, at our place. A win here would be big, and a loss would put us two back. T. J. was better by game day. 66-45. Hal Main had 24 at SG, we took care of the ball, we owned the boards, and T. J. stayed in the game.
 
February 26
 
In a crazy end to the season Detroit lost their last 2. We won by 1 over them and 3 or more over everyone else. 19-8, 12-4, RPI #47, heading for the tournament.


#24

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March 5
 
Tourney is at our place again since we finished first. We play UIC in the round of four. Beat them by 3 there and 8 here so we need to stay awake.
 
77-72. It wasn’t as close as the final score. We were up by 21 fairly late and I emptied my bench.
 
Detroit for the title, as expected. They beat us by 1 there and we won by 21 at home. This will make a big difference as far as seeding for the NCAA is concerned.
 
March 6
 
72-70. Whew! +2 TOs, +4 RBs, but we won it at the foul line, and nearly lost it by giving up 11 threes. Don Kemp came off the bench for 14 and 7 and that was a huge factor.
 
Win Hoop hurt his back. We think he’ll be 100% for our first NCAA game.
 
March 9
 
Mai defended her thesis. It gave me goose bumps to be there. I didn’t understand a whole lot of what she said but she clearly knew her stuff. The committee had only a few questions, and all of those were easily resolved. It was now Dr. Mai Price!
 
March 12
 
We’re at 21-8, RPI #37, and we’re waiting to see where we’ll go and how high. #12 in the East. We play #5 Oklahoma State, 20-11. I was hoping for as #10 but not shocked. This is a tough match up but I think we can win the game if we play well and play smart.
 
March 16
 
74-63. Great win! 41 RBs, our season high. We played together really well.
 
In a break for us #13 seed Weber State upset #4 Charlotte. We’ve never been beyond the second round but we have a great shot at it this time. In looking at game tapes we feel like we should beat this team.
 
March 18
 
53-52. Hell of a game! +3 TOs, +7 RBs. It was back and forth all night. Finally, they scored with 14 seconds left to take a 52-51 lead. I did not call a time out but let my guys bring it down and find the shot. They did. With 3 seconds left T. J. faked a pass and put up a 15 footer. It went in. Weber State was not able to get a good shot off and that was it and we are in our first Sweet Sixteen.
March 19
 
Pandemonium on campus when we arrived here. We head to Pittsburgh on the 21st but I thought a couple of days at home made sense. 
 
Next up is #1 in the country Indiana but we’re just enjoying what we’ve accomplished for now.
 
In looking at game tapes the only chance we have is to keep the game inside as much as possible. They are way better than us outside but only a little better inside. We will need a near perfect game and lots of luck to win this one but we’ll give it all we have.
 
March 23
 
I am in an absolute state of shock, 62-61. They led by 18 early in the 2nd half and then it all turned around. We hit 9 straight shots, while they went 1-11. That tied the game and forced Coach Knight to use a time out. We had never led at that point (2:27 to play). They hit two shots to go up 4 with :44 left. T. J. came down and got it in to Win Hoop for a layup. Down 2 with :26 left. They were holding the ball to make us foul. We doubled the ball and their PG made a bad decision. Hal Main got a step in steal, brought it down, and with :02 left launched a 3. It went in, we took our first and only lead, and they never got a shot off. This is the most incredible win ever. We’re all over ESPN and the rest of the sports channels. This is the most fun basketball has ever been. Mai is beside herself with excitement.
 
Next up? #10 in the country Michigan State, 26-7, #3 seed in the East. I can’t believe we’re playing for a chance to go to the final four! I think we have an edge inside and we’re about even at the Point; they are definitely better at 2, 3, and 4. I don’t know if my guys have one more great game in them but that’s what it will take. Indiana was tougher but this is a very good team.
 
March 25
 
59-70. We dominated the first half but it all changed in the second. Hoop reinjured his back early in the second. He played the rest of the way but he wasn’t effective and they got almost every rebound in the second half. 
 
I couldn’t be prouder of my guys. 24-9, Elite Eight. Amazing.
Mai is having a lot of trouble with the loss but she always does. She becomes so emotionally involved. Don’t get me wrong, I love that about her, but the price is high.
 
April 4
 
Mai and I went to the final four and I had lots of very interesting conversations. Michigan beat Michigan State by 3 for the title. It was a great game.
 
Awards: Win Hoop was POY and 1st team with Deek Hood. Hal Main was Defensive POY, and 2nd team. I got the coach award.
 
April 9
 
Offers: Disappointing. Very few worth even thinking about. We’re flying out to USC though. Hm. Not sure they can compete with UCLA, Arizona, and some of the others in that conference but we’re thinking about it. No. Tulane? A definite step up in lots of ways and a program with some possibilities. Hm. After visiting I ask for 48 hours. Mai and I are leaning toward saying yes. 
 
We speak with Papa Joe.
 
“This will take you toward your goal?”
 
“Yes, it will bring me a step closer. The school is in a much better conference, they have more money to work with, the facilities are better.”
 
“And the salary?”
 
“Much better than what I’m making now.”
 
“Then you must take this opportunity. We will miss you both very much, of course, but you cannot pass up an opportunity.”
 
Hello New Orleans. We told Tulane that we’d take the job. The Tulane physics department very much wanted Mai so that was not a problem.
 
April 11
 
We’re in New Orleans. Until we find housing we’ll live in graduate housing. Not for long, I hope.
 
April 16
 
I have a staff to hire. Thought I’d keep one of the assistants but he bailed. I am happy with my #1 and #2. #3? We ran out of money. I think he’ll be okay, but no more than that.
 
April 30
 
I ask for a facilities upgrade and I get it, from B- to B+. Great way to start!
 
After 9 years of coaching my numbers are: 189-91, .675. Off- 31, Def- 49, Recruit- 90, Scout- 42, Player Development- 40, Reputation- 38. Ready for a new challenge!


#25

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May 1
 
I took on a huge challenge. I knew that coming in but as I look at game tapes I don’t see a team that is going to be very competitive in this tough conference. We’re going to have at least one very tough year. We bought the Gold national and the basic international scouting reports. Recruiting is going to be vital.
 
May 15
 
As I get to know A. D., Matthew “Biggie” Smalls, I am less than happy that I decided to come to Tulane. “Biggie” made it very clear to me that he is a football guy and that the basketball program can expect to get precious little from him. 
On a more positive note Mai loves the physics department here, and is happily settling in to her place within that 
department.
 
June 5
 
We’re looking at transfers. 
 
June 12
We grab three transfers, a very good looking SG, and 2 PFs who both show promise.
 
June 26
 
Getting our 3 transfers left us with only one scholarship. I felt I could do better in the transfer market.
 
July 31
 
I stopped in to discuss the schedule with “Biggie.”
 
“I’ll do what I can.”
 
He said that while going through some papers. I started to ask another question. He never lifted his head to look at me and grunted an answer. I left.
 
August 28
 
Wish I had more scholarships. Lots of kids are interested in coming here.
 
September 18
 
I went in to see “Biggie” again yesterday to ask about the schedule.
 
“It’s comin’.”
 
I explained what I was looking for. Mainly a fairly soft schedule so we could get some wins. He made it obvious that he was ignoring me.
 
“We have to leave in the spring if you get any kind of a good offer.”
 
“Yes, Mai, I think we do. I hate to do it though. You are doing so well at your work.”
 
“I will get good work at the next place.”
 
Coming here was clearly a mistake. Now to find a way to survive it and look good in a bad situation, if possible.
 
September 18
 
“Biggie” threw the schedule on my desk and walked out. He doesn’t use email (of course), or he would have simply emailed it to me. I’m shocked and pleased to see that we’re at the Las Vegas Winter Jam. The schedule is more challenging than I would have liked but not as bad as I feared, all in all.
 
We get a commitment from our only recruit. Let’s see if spring changes anything.
 
October 2
 
First day of practice. Definitely a rebuilding year. Our goals include winning 15 games, making the NIT and finishing in the top half of the conference. Maybe to all three. We are picked 4th in conference in the polls so maybe either we’re better than I think we are or the league is worse.
 
November 6
 
As always exhibitions caused me to make some changes. The season is here, ready or not.
 
November 20
 
We are 1-1after the first week. “Biggie” booked us into a red eye flight for our road game. 
 
We got to our destination at 10:00 a.m. on game day. We lost, of course. I got back home and he and I had a long, ugly fight about it. Then I went over his head and spoke to the Vice Provost who was less than helpful. I make a quick lineup adjustment.
 
December 4
 
More lineup changes. We’re 3-2 but still finding our way. Red eye flights will be the way we travel. I’ve gone all the way to the Provost and the President. The President was more sympathetic and she is looking into it, she says.
 
December 16
 
At the Las Vegas Winter Jam. We’re 3-4 and haven’t jelled yet. 
 
December 18
Won the first game, lost the second. We didn’t look bad though. 
 
December 25
 
May 1
I took on a huge challenge. I knew that coming in but as I look at game tapes I don’t see a team that is going to be very competitive in this tough conference. We’re going to have at least one very tough year. We bought the Gold national and the basic international scouting reports. Recruiting is going to be vital.
May 15
As I get to know A. D., Matthew “Biggie” Smalls, I am less than happy that I decided to come to Tulane. “Biggie” made it very clear to me that he is a football guy and that the basketball program can expect to get precious little from him. 
On a more positive note Mai loves the physics department here, and is happily settling in to her place within that department.
June 5
We’re looking at transfers. 
June 12
We grab three transfers, a very good looking SG, and 2 PFs who both show promise.
June 26
Getting our 3 transfers left us with only one scholarship. I felt I could do better in the transfer market.
July 31
I stopped in to discuss the schedule with “Biggie.”
“I’ll do what I can.”
He said that while going through some papers. I started to ask another question. He never lifted his head to look at me and grunted an answer. I left.
August 28
Wish I had more scholarships. Lots of kids are interested in coming here.
September 18
I went in to see “Biggie” again yesterday to ask about the schedule.
“It’s comin’.”
I explained what I was looking for,. Mainly a fairly soft schedule so we could get some wins. He made it obvious that he was ignoring me.
“We have to leave in the spring if you get any kind of a good offer.”
“Yes, Mai, I think we do. I hate to do it though. You are doing so well at your work.”
“I will get good work at the next place.”
Coming here was clearly a mistake. Now to find a way to survive it and look good in a bad situation, if possible.
September 18
“Biggie” threw the schedule on my desk and walked out. He doesn’t use email (of course), or he would have simply emailed it to me. I’m shocked and pleased to see that we’re at the Las Vegas Winter Jam. The schedule is more challenging than I would have liked but not as bad as I feared, all in all.
We get a commitment from our only recruit. Let’s see if soring changes anything.
October 2
First day of practice. Definitely a rebuilding year. Our goals include winning 15 games, making the NIT and finishing in the top half of the conference. Maybe to all three. We are picked 4th in conference in the polls so maybe either we’re better than I think we are or the league is worse.
November 6
As always exhibitions caused me to make some changes. The season is here, ready or not.
November 20
We are 1-1after the first week. “Biggie” Booked us into a red eye flight for our road game. 
We got to our destination at 10:00 a.m. on game day. We lost, of course. I got back home and he and I had a long, ugly fight about it. Then I went over his head and spoke to the Vice Provost who was less than helpful. I make a quick lineup adjustment.
December 4
More lineup changes. We’re 3-2 but still finding our way. Red eye flights will be the way we travel. I’ve gone all the way to the Provost and the President. The President was more sympathetic and she is looking into it, she says.
December 16
At the Las Vegas Winter Jam. We’re 3-4 and haven’t jelled yet. 
December 18
Won the first game, lost the second. We didn’t look bad though. 
December 25
5-5 heading into conference play. We are a patchwork quilt but we’ve made it work fairly well. A few teams in conference will beat us up, but many will be at our level. We’ll be okay I think.
 
We are a patchwork quilt but we’ve made it work fairly well. A few teams in conference will beat us up, but many will be at our level. We’ll be okay I think.


#26

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January 1
Happy 2001!
 
January 23
 
At the halfway point in conference play we are 9-10, 4-5. Those 15 wins? They aren’t going to happen. Our biggest problem is our inside game. We don’t have one, at least as far as rebounding is concerned. No improvement in my relationship with “Biggie” and no help from the university administration. Those red eye flights are a big reason why we’re playing so poorly on the road.
 
February 26
We end the regular season 13-15, 8-10, tied for 6th. RPI 268.
 
March 9
 
We play last place Central FL in the qualifying round. 67-50.
 
March 10
 
Memphis is up in the round of 8. They won in OT the first time but they crushed us the 2nd time. 63-72. That will undoubtedly end our season.
 
March 12
 
As expected, no invitation. We’ll look at the roster to see if we want to make any late moves.
 
April 4
 
We did make a couple of roster moves. Mai and I go to the final four.  The situation at Tulane never got any better so we hoped to make some good contacts that will lead to offers. The contacts were definitely made. Oregon won the title.
 
Awards: I sort of thought we would be shut out but Del Bank and Stew Seal both made 2nd team.
 
April 9
 
Offers: One real good one, Wisconsin. Mai and I are going to visit.
 
April 12
 
We applied. We got the job. I flew out immediately. Mai needs to clean up some projects and she will not join me until early May when she starts here. The physics department definitely wanted her and she has a contract.
 
The press conference was not pretty when the questions about why I was leaving after only one year came up. I was careful. I simply stated that Tulane didn’t turn out to be a good fit and I didn’t feel that I could be successful there. Further questions on the topic got only, “No comment.” The fact that Tulane has run through four head basketball coaches in seven years did not come up.
 
I kept the #3 assistant, promoting him to #1. I found two great assistants to fill out the staff.
 
I hit it off with my new A. D., Mike Lyle right from the start. He too was a football guy but he made it clear that he would support the basketball program in every way possible. I asked for a facilities upgrade.
 
“Blade, it’s just not in the budget.  Look, I’ll make sure the money’s there next year.”
 
I believe him!
Not a good year but my numbers are: 203-107, .655. Off- 33, Def- 53, Recruit- 90, Scout- 42, Player Development- 43, Reputation- 38. Hoping for a great year with this new start.


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May 1
 
We managed a quick trip to see Papa Joe and Mama Li, and then to see my folks. It was nice.
 
June 12
 
We were able to pick up what looks like a really good transfer SG.
 
July 14
 
A lot has happened. Matt Yoke is doing a great job as my recruiting coach. He has some talented kids talking with us.
 
Mai says she’s very happy in her new position here and really likes the people she’s working with. Of course everyone loves her as soon as they meet her.
 
September 18
 
We’re in the JAG Holiday Tournament. Schedule may be a bit soft. We’ll see.
 
Babies. I want them. Mai isn’t so sure.
 
“I want children, Blade, but I also want my career.”
 
“I’m not asking you to give up your career.”
 
“But babies need care.”
 
“Lots of people find really good day care for their babies, and they keep working.”
 
“That is not our way in Thailand.”
 
“Mai, this isn’t Thailand.”
 
“No, but my parents would be shocked by this.”
 
We decided to think it over and talk it over for awhile.
 
We’re picked to finish 8th in our 14 team conference. One of our goals is to finish in the top half. We’ll see.
 
November 6
 
A lot has happened. Exhibition games left me more puzzled than anything else. I’m fairly certain about SG, SF and PF, but PG and C are up for grabs, as is sub time, and 2, 3, 4 are not rock solid. Our first few games will tell us a lot and they will undoubtedly lead to some lineup changes.
 
Oh, Mai is pregnant. It seems fate has taken a hand. We both want the baby. We’ll deal with the other things later, but we are discussing them regularly. 
 
Papa Joe is talking about selling his business, moving here, starting a restaurant here with Dani, and having Mama Li help out with child care. I told him that who knows how long we’ll be here. He asked if it would be at least two years. I said it will very likely be 2-3 years at the very least but there are no guarantees. I think he’ll sell and move here. Again, time will tell.


#28

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November 20
 
Two wins in week one and we’re ranked! #24. Not sure we’re that good, actually, but we beat two quality opponents-  at home.
 
Papa Joe has his business for sale and he’s flying our here to Madison to see what’s available. He is way wealthier than I thought. The restaurant in Bangkok is a goldmine, and he’s owned it for 25 years. He built it from scratch and it is THE place to go in Bangkok. It’s always full. He pays his brother very well for running it and still takes a huge profit back with him every month when he goes to Thailand. Actually, he has most of his money in Europe, Swiss bank accounts, investments and the like. He says he is very diversified. I asked why he works so hard here and he said he loves it. No argument, since I work as hard as he does because… I love it!
 
All 5 recruits signed. We may make a move for one more big guy in the spring. Remains to be seen.
 
December 4
 
We’ve made several adjustments, and a few more are possible. We’re 4-2, losing to 2 ranked teams on the road. We’re doing better than I had anticipated, all in all.
 
Mai is having no health problems. The baby is due at the end of June.
 
Papa Joe decided to open a Thai style restaurant just off campus. It will feature every kind of middle Eastern and Asian food imaginable in buffet style. Not so sure how the midwestern “meat and potato” folks will react but he is optimistic.  His restaurant and other properties in Toledo are for sale and he thinks he has a buyer. He has already bought the property here, and there will eventually be the restaurant and three houses. I told him we would definitely be moving again.
 
“I make money when we sell, Alvin. By then restaurant will be very successful.”
 
Who am I to argue?
 
He did say he hopes our next stop will be the destination school. So do I!
 
December 21
 
Just beat #20 Gonzaga at their place. 7-2. Heading for the JAG tourney. Two more minor lineup adjustments. I think we’re finished with lineup tweaks.
 
Renovations to the building Papa Joe bought have begun. He hopes to open the restaurant in May. I think that’s optimistic.
 
December 25
 
Mai came with me to the JAG and we had a great tournament. We met #1 seed Texas in the final and beat them by 19. We flew to Albany 10-2 with one to play before conference play began. We’re doing way better than I had thought we would. We play 8 guys and all of them contribute. Different guys seem to do it on different nights.
January 1, 2002
 
I guess we were due for a bad night and we had it in Albany. Still, we wound up 10-3 in preconference play.


#29

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January 29
 
14-7, 4-4 at the halfway point of conference play. 5 teams ahead of us, 5 behind us, and tied with the other 3. I’m actually pretty happy with that.
Papa Joe sold his properties in Toledo. It’s official. He will move here sometime in mid-February, with Mama Li and Dani, of course. He will act as a sort of “clerk of the works” on the renovation of the building that will be his new restaurant, and Dani will keep an eye on the construction of the three houses. It will be great to have them here. I’m one of those strange people who really likes the family he married into.
 
Mai remains perfectly healthy and she is still working full time. She says she plans to do so until the baby is born. With Mama Li in charge of child care Mai hopes to go back to work halftime a month after the baby is born, and then full time a month after that.
 
February 12
 
4 to play. We’re 17-8, 7-5, in a 5 way tie for 3rd. 2 teams 1 back of us.
 
February 19
 
18-9, 8-6, alone in 5th. 2 teams one ahead of us and 4 teams one back of us with 2 to play.
 
Papa Joe, Mama Li and Dani are here. We had a great evening with them last night. 
 
February 26
 
19-10, 9-7, RPI #22, tied for 5th heading to the post season. This insures that we will meet all of our goals and frankly, it far exceeds my expectations. I couldn’t be happier.
 
March 9
 
Iowa in the quarter finals. Beat them by 3 at our place so it should be a challenge.
 
62-47. We played well. Starting SF got hurt- abdominals, about two weeks. His back up has been playing better so that’s not a big issue but it does make the bench short.
 
#23 Purdue, 4th seed, is next. We won by 2 in OT at our place.
 
March 10
 
71-62! #3 in the country Michigan in the semifinals. A tall order! They beat us by 16 and 19 in the regular season.
 
March 11
 
54-70. Now to see where we’ll go and how high.
 
March 12
 
Michigan won the tourney. 
 
#6 West. We’ll play #11 UNC Asheville.
 
March 17
 
The whole family came to Phoenix.
 
57-42. Too many TOs but we rebounded well and played great D.
 
#3 seed, #20 ranked Maryland next. We need to play very well. If we do we have a chance.
 
March 19
 
59-68. Not quite. Starting PF Mel Tone hurt his knee early. I don’t think it’s serious but we didn’t play him for the last 32 minutes. That meant two starters were sitting. We simply couldn’t overcome that. Hey, great first season!
 
April 4
 
Mai and I went to the final four. She’s showing but not a lot, and she still seems to be feeling great.
 
Michigan won it all.
 
Awards: Mel Tone made second team.
 
April 23
 
No interesting offers but it would have taken something spectacular. I ask for facilities again, thinking that Mike Lyle will keep his promise from last spring. 
 
He does. We’re up from C to B-. Looking forward to next year. We had a great year this year. Way better than I expected.
 
We finished 22-12, RPI #20. Team Prestige is up from 43 to 51. My numbers after 11 years as a head coach: 225-119, .654. Off- 36, Def- 58, Recruit- 90, Scout- 43, Player Development- 47, Reputation- 41.
 
Now we wait for the baby. Well, among other things. Both of us will keep working. Mai has a research project she wants to leave at a place where the rest of her team can move forward with it. I doubt that she’ll stay away from the department completely. I suspect she’ll bring the little one with her and make at least short visits. We don’t want to know the baby’s gender before the birth. My folks are coming here for 10 days in July, after the baby is born- well, we assume anyway.


#30

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May 20
 
Papa Joe opened his new restaurant last night. It’s gorgeous, the food is fantastic and the variety of choices is amazing. It was full right up until closing time.
 
June 16
 
Went into the transfer pile and got what appears to be a very good SG.
 
Mai looks great. She’s gained 12 pounds so she doesn’t show a great deal. She says she feels fine and she continues to work. Due date is in 11 days, June 27.
 
June 26
 
Looking at 15 recruits, 11 are PGs. No baby yet.
 
June 30
 
BABY!!! A beautiful little girl, 5 lbs., 13 oz. Mother and daughter are both doing fine. Mai described her labor as one short, sharp pain. She woke me in the middle of the night, I drove her to the university hospital, we went into the delivery room. She had the baby within 10 minutes of the time we went in. Papa Joe and Mama Li came to visit in the afternoon. Everyone will be back home tomorrow. Oh, the baby’s name is Lili. My mom’s name is Lillian and of course you know about Mama Li. Seemed like the perfect name!
 
July 11
 
Mom and Dad are here. Lili is growing and doing very well. Mai has already been to work a couple of times but only briefly each time.
 
Thai Garden, Papa Joe’s restaurant is a tremendous hit. The population around here goes down when school is out, but Papa tells me that they are at 97% of capacity so far. Since Mama Li is in charge of day care she does not work at the restaurant. Dani is officially the assistant manager but Papa Joe leaves a great deal of the decision making to him. 
 
Dani is now 22. He has a girlfriend and it seems pretty serious. She is Vietnamese. Dani told me privately that if and when we move to take another coaching job he wants to stay here and run the restaurant. That just might work out well. Papa Joe wouldn’t mind, I’m sure, having a thriving restaurant here, and then starting another wherever we go next. We’ll see what happens. 
 
Papa Joe and Mama Li are both 53 years old. Successful Thais at that age already begin to think of retirement but I don’t see Papa Joe retiring any time soon. He has tons of energy and loves what he does.
 
My folks are both 64 and definitely close to retirement. Dad could retire at any time. He has the years in. he says a year and a half more and he’ll max out his pension, and that’s when he’ll go. Mom says she’ll retire on her 65th birthday.
 
July 25
 
My folks are back in Jersey. Mai is working halftime (or more). Lili is in very good hands. Mama Li is wonderful. Of course we’re going to have the most spoiled daughter in history. I come home for lunch when I can, usually in the late afternoon. That way I get to spend a little time with Lili. I hope to continue to do that, again, when I can. I do NOT want to be a stranger to my kids.
 
Recruiting is looking promising. 3 scholarships and we hope to get at least 2 guards.
 
September 18
 
Lili is almost 3 months old. She knows us and smiles. No one can explain the tremendous love you feel for your child. It has to be experienced.
 
The restaurant is absolutely sold out every night (well, lunch and dinner) now that school is back in session.
 
Two PGs have committed and the 3rd is close.
 
We’re going to the JAG Holiday. We’ve beefed up the schedule a bit. No long road trips, which is great.
 
October 2
We got the third recruit. One of the three may have trouble hitting our SAT score so we’ll save the rest of our recruiting money.
I like what I saw at today’s first practice.
We’re picked to finish 5th in conference.


#31

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November 6
 
Can’t believe Lili is more than 4 months old. She does more now, laughs, reaches for things, very much knows who is who in the household. I only get home for lunch 2-3 days a week, but I also get to spend some time with Lili in the morning. Mai is working full time. 
 
Lili spends part of the day with her and the rest with Mama Li. Mai and I have to work at finding time to spend together but we do work at it and we treasure our time together. I think we love each other more than ever. This has been a great relationship right from the start.
 
Exhibition games led to more questions than answers. I will play 7 most of the time, but who gets how many minutes remains open.
 
November 20
2-0 for week one.
 
November 27
 
3-1 but some really tough teams are coming up. We need to rebound better.
 
December 22
 
Tweaked the lineup. We’re rebounding better and we’ve won 4 straight. 7-2 heading for the JAG Holiday. We’re the #4 seed but I think we can win this thing.
 
Mai, Lili, and Mama Li are all coming with us. 
 
Papa Joe and Dani are too busy with the restaurant, which continues to do a fantastic business. Papa is brilliant. Everything in the restaurant has some sort of Asian style but he has included lots of beef and pork dishes to appeal to the locals. It works!
 
December 23 
We beat Colorado by 14. Next up is #1 seed Temple. They beat us by 19 at their place. We have a stronger lineup now and we’re playing really well. They also have 2 starters out with injuries. 
 
December 24
82-64. We were in control all the way. 10-2 St. John’s, the #2 seed in the final.  They haven’t played anybody.
 
December 25
 
71-52. Again, we were never threatened.
 
Baby’s 1st XMas spent on a plane. She’s too young to know. She and her mother and Mama Li head home while the team and I go to Georgia for a game. We’ll celebrate the holiday when I get home, most likely on the 30th, Lili’s 6 month birthday.
 
 
December 30
We beat Georgia to end the preconference season at 11-2. Since the lineup change we’re up 5.7 RBs per game and we’ve won 8 straight.
 
The Big 10 is tough this year though.
 
Lili didn’t know what all the excitement was about but she definitely enjoyed the XMas/birthday celebration.
 
“Let’s have the second baby right away. Two is enough, and if we have them close together it’s better.”
 
“That’s fine with me, Mai.”
 
January 1, 2003
 
Happy new year!


#32

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January 8
Beat #21 Indiana at home, and beat a tough Michigan State team by 2 on the road. We’re ranked! #19, RPI #16. This is the first time one of my teams has been ranked and it feels really good!
 
January 22
 
16-3, 5-1, Ranked #17, RPI #15, alone in 1st.
 
January 29
 
Iowa beat us by 2, there. Now we’re in a 3 way tie for first.  
 
That recruit did not hit the SAT score. We offered to another PG, and we’re looking at a few new recruits as well.
 
February 12
21-4, 10-2. Alone in first, 1 game up on Maryland, 2 on Indiana and Ohio State, with 4 to play.
 
Lili has a cold. It is the first time she has been ill and it is a little scary. The pediatrician says there is no cause for alarm.
 
February 19
 
We lose to #20 Indiana on the road. We’re tied with Maryland with 2 to play.
 
Lili is much better. She is still coughing a little.
 
February 26
We finished second, 1 back of Maryland. 23-6, 12-4, #15, RPI #24.
 
March 10 
 
We play #7 seed Michigan in the round of 8. 
 
58-50. It will be #3 seed Indiana in the semifinal round. We beat them by 6 then lost by 14. 
 
March 11
 
We did NOT come to play tonight. 20 TOs and the shots wouldn’t drop. Part of the latter is that guys weren’t working hard enough to get open so lots of our shots were forced. Maryland was also upset, by Minnesota.
 
March 12
 
The loss will hurt us regarding seeding for the tournament. Let’s see where we land. We’re 24-7, 12-4, #17, RPI #28. 
It was a long wait. #3 in the West. Frankly, I never expected a #3 seed. I’m thrilled. We play 22-8 Wagner.
 
Lili is talking, and she has started to walk, even though she’s only 8 ½ months. She is definitely entertaining but she needs to be watched constantly. She’s into everything. Mama Li doesn’t usually have her all day but when she does she looks very tired at the end of the day.
 
March 17
 
Mai can’t get away from work. Her research is at a critical stage. So I’m in Salt Lake City without her. Hope to get to San Francisco for the Sweet Sixteen. If we do, Mai will be with us there.
 
64-34. It was never a game. #11 seed Brigham Young upset Ohio State so this is essentially a home game for them. We think we’re the better team though.
 
March 19
80-73 and off to the Sweet Sixteen in San Francisco!
 
March 24
 
The whole family is here.
 
#2 seed, #4 ranked Creighton. This is a tough matchup for us. We need to get the ball inside regularly and we need to rebound well.
61-73. We rebounded well (+5) but 20 TOs hurt. Great season! We far exceeded expectations and we have all 5 starters back.
 
March 26
 
The third PG signed with us.
 
April 4
 
Mai, Mama Li, Lili and I go to the final four. I’m not looking to leave Wisconsin for another year but if opportunity knocks we’ll answer the door.
 
Kentucky beat Maryland by 1 for the title. Great game!
 
Awards: PF Mel Tone made 1st team, SG T. J. Dant made 2nd.
 
April 23
 
Some interesting job offers but not interesting enough. My #1 assistant left for a head coaching position. I like the guy I hired.
I ask for another facilities upgrade. I’d like to get us to B+. I love Mike Lyle! We’re at B+!
Team Prestige is up to 54. After 12 years as a head coach I am 251-127, .664. Off- 41, Def- 65, Recruit- 90, Scout- 44, Player Dev- 53, Reputation- 46. Next year we’ll be looking to move up but if it takes 2-3 years that’s fine. We’re happy in Madison.


#33

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May 1
 
Mai is pregnant again. The baby is due in mid-November. We’re excited, of course.
 
June 16
 
We look at transfers. We pick up a PG and an SF.
 
June 30
 
Happy birthday Lili. 1 year old. It was quite a celebration!
 
We have 4 scholarships. Probably need guards more than bigs, but I’d take 2 of each.
 
August 7
2 guys nominated for the Norton Award: SG Tod Oma #25, SF Jay Bayn #35. These are my first two. Cool!
 
September 18
Got a PG, an SG and a C to commit. Hoping for the PF to join them.
 
We’re invited to the Coaches Classic, which is quite an honor. We play Florida first so we’ll need to be on our toes. It also means I may be away when the new baby is born. We’re playing an ambitious schedule.
 
Speaking of the new baby, as was the case last time, Mai has gained very little weight, she says she feels great, and she certainly seems to have lots of energy. We’re about two months away.
 
October 16
 
We’re picked to finish 3rd in conference, ahead of 4 ranked teams.
 
November 6
 
Mai still seems as energetic as usual. She’s due in a week and a half.
 
Exhibitions set our lineup.
 
November 13
 
In a HUGE upset we beat #3 Florida, 86-84. The first round featured 4 upsets in 8 games. We play #10 seed Temple next. They upset #7 seed Stanford.
 
November 15
We beat Temple 58-40. Trap Jones has been huge at C, and Tod Oma has played very well at SG. #2 seed, #2 ranked UConn is next. I’ve managed to watch both of their games. They’re better than us, especially at PG and PF, and their bench is deeper, but they aren’t a whole lot better. If we play well we have a chance.
 
November 17
 
80-71. Another great win. Tod Oma, Jay Bayn at SF and especially T. J. Dant at the Point led us. Trap Jones had another great game. We opened a huge lead early (22 points) and UConn had to try to play catch up all night. Every time they got close we scored a basket.
 
#8 seed Dayton made it to the final and we’ll face them. We feel like we’re the better team but we need to play that way.
 
November 18
Mai gave birth to a healthy boy early this morning. Can’t wait to get home to see both of them.
 
November 19
90-63. Seeded #15 we become the lowest seeded team to ever win this tournament. All 5 starters plus Ed Till from the bench played really well. 43 RBs, 8 TOs.
 
November 20
 
Home, saw my beautiful son and my beautiful wife, both of whom are doing great. Lili is fascinated with her new brother. We called him Lou. My dad’s name is Louis, and Papa Joe has Liu as part of his name so it seemed to fit. Fortunately we’re home for 9 days.
 
We are ranked #4! I think that’s a little high but we’re a good team.
 
November 28
 
I really enjoyed my time with Mai and our two little ones. Back on the road but only for a couple of days.
 
Two easy wins this week, including one over #13 UNLV by 26. We’re now ranked #2. My head is spinning. I know we’re good but I really don’t know if we’re that good.
 
Georgia Tech broke the spell, beating us by 2 there. We went to the line 14 times and they went 23, and that was the difference. Then we came home and beat Utah by 22.  Ranked #4.
 
December 11
 
A close call against Syracuse there, 62-60, then we trounced Xavier here. Still #4, RPI #3. 9-1.
It’s fun to watch Lili “taking care of” Lou. She takes it very seriously.
 
December 18
 
12 days on the road. Lost to Marquette, beat Louisville. 10-2. One more road game before I get back to my family.
 
December 25
 
Another close call. We beat South Carolina by 2 at their place. 
 
Lili really enjoyed the holiday. Lou, being just 5 weeks old, was oblivious, despite Lili’s best efforts.
 
January 1
 
Happy 2004
 
We end the preconference season at 12-2, ranked #10, RPI #1.


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January 8
 
We got our third 2 point road win then came home and crushed #8 ranked Iowa.
 
Lost to Rutgers on the road. Shouldn’t have. We went to the line 17 times, they went 39. I got a T. That very rarely happens but it had to happen this time. Then we won at home.
 
Papa Joe asked me what the odds were of our moving in the spring. I told him it’s difficult to tell. A big part of it is which schools have vacancies, and since I’m looking only for one of the very best programs in the country there wouldn’t be many openings. The other factor was that my reputation rating would probably be about 50. That’s good, but is it good enough for one of those elite programs. Time will tell.
 
Oh, Dani and his girlfriend are engaged, looking at a spring wedding.
 
January 22
 
And now a 1 point road win. Then an easy home win. We are barely surviving on the road but will to win is big.
 
January 29
 
Big home win over Maryland to put us alone in 1st. 19-3, 7-1. Ranked #7, RPI #1.
Tod Oma is #6 on the Norton List and Jay Bayn is #13.
 
Everyone hit our SAT number.
 
Mai is back at work part time. It’s more difficult for her to spend lots of time there with two children, but she does what she can.
 
February 5
 
Maryland did us a big favor and upset #3 ranked Michigan. Then we went to Michigan and got beat. First loss where I can’t say the refs were a factor. We couldn’t hit shots and we turned it over too often. 20-4, 8-2. Tied for 1st with Maryland, Michigan 1 back.
 
February 12
 
Alone in first, 1 up on both Maryland and Michigan, with 4 to play. Ranked #3 (!), RPI #1.
 
Busy as she is Mai comes to all of our home games, and she watches the road games on TV. She has never lost her enthusiasm for the game. Oh, and she still gives me lots of advice on how to coach my team, and quite a bit of it is helpful.
 
Lili is now convinced that, at not quite 3 months of age, Lou is talking. Every time he gurgles or babbles she “translates” for us.
 
February 19
 
24-4, 12-2, #3, RPI #1. Still 1 up on both MD and Mich. We have a tough road game against #20 Iowa this week.
 
February 26
 
We crushed Iowa by 23. Oma, Dant and Bayn were all immense. We finished 1 up on Michigan and 2 on Maryland. 26-4, 14-2, #3, RPI #1, heading into the post season.
 
March 5
 
Ted Oma is #5 on the Norton List.
 
Lili almost hurt Lou. She was convinced he could walk with a little help. Mai had only left the room for a moment to get diapers from the other room. When she returned Lili had almost managed to get Lou off the changing table. Mai rushed over and grabbed Lou before he could fall to the floor. She then carefully explained things top Lili, who seemed to understand. Things can happen very quickly.
 
March 9
 
We play Ohio State in the round of 8 of the conference tournament. We beat them by 21 in January. 
 
March 10
 
94-88 in OT. They missed an open 12 footer at the end of regulation or we’d be heading home. We took charge in OT. We allowed an embarrassing 24 three pointers.  We’ll definitely need to tighten the outside D.
 
#16 ranked Indiana is next. We beat them by 18 in Feb.
 
March 11
 
66-77. 16 TOs to Indiana’s 6, and a failure to stop the outside shot again. We’ll work on that before the NCAA tourney. This loss probably cost us a #1 seed, although the #2 ranked team also lost.
March 12
 
#12 Indiana beat #3 Michigan for the title. Given the upsets we may get that #1 after all. We’re gathered around the TV waiting for the show to start. 27-5, ranked #4. RPI #1.
 
#1 in the East, #1 overall. The celebration in here was gigantic. Now to prove we deserve it!
 
We’ll start off in Boston. Mai doesn’t feel that she can either take the kids or come with us and leave them at home. First time she’ll miss our NCAA tournament games. She’ll be watching though!
 
March 18
 
We got past UTEP and Missouri with no trouble but I didn’t feel we played well in either game. Maryland was shockingly upset in the first round. On to Philadelphia for the Sweet Sixteen.
 
March 23
 
#17 Oregon. They are tough inside and a good team overall.
 
56-57. Our D was plenty good enough but we were 16-49, 5-21 on threes. The shots wouldn’t drop, including the last one, a 17 footer by our best shooter, Tod Oma. Tough way to lose, but we’re out. I really thought we had a good chance to get to the final four but we simply didn’t play well during our last three games and it caught up to us. Great season though, my best ever.
 
We’ll find out in a couple of weeks if that big time offer comes.
 
#1 and #4 in the country also went out in the Sweet 16. One of those years.
 
April 4
I went to the Final Four without Mai. #3 Michigan got trounced by #2 Florida. It wasn’t even a game.
 
Awards: Tod Oma made the national 2nd team. In conference Tod and Jay Bayn made 1st team, Trap Jones made 2nd team.
April 9
 
No offers that were even remotely interesting. As I said last year, we’re happy in Madison.
 
April 23
 
I asked for an extension and a raise. Mike said I deserved it but he didn’t have the money. He also said I should ask again next year. He’d plan for it.
 
Team Prestige is up to 56. My record is 280-133, .678. My numbers are:
Off- 45, Def- 78, Recruit- 90, Scout- 44, Player Dev- 58, Reputation- 51.
 
It was truly a terrific year and we’re hoping for even more next year.


#35

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May 1
 
Dani and Ming were married yesterday. Dani and Papa Joe talked and Papa agreed that Dani would run Thai Garden when we move, hopefully next April.
 
June 26
 
Nothing in the transfer pool. 6 scholarships. Looking at 10 for now.
 
June 30
 
Can Lili possibly be 2 already! Yes she is. We had a nice celebration.
 
August 7
 
SG Tod Oma #13 on the Norton List, SF Jay Bayn #28, and PF Max Bibb #36.
 
September 18
 
We got a PF to commit. We’re Going to the JAG Holiday tournament. 
 
September 25
 
We got an SF and a PG. 
 
October 2
 
Still chasing recruits
 
First day of practice. I like what I saw.
 
We’re picked first in conference, over 5 ranked teams, two of which are top 5.
 
Nov. 18
 
Baby Lou is a year old. Lili pretty much organized the celebration. She is very much a take charge, in charge girl. Lou didn’t really know what all the fuss was about but he clearly enjoyed it. 
 
November 20
 
A two win first week and we’re ranked #17.
 
December 4
 
6-0. Ranked #8, RPI #2.
 
December 20
 
9-0 headed for the JAG.
 
December 23
 
We’re the #3 seed. #6 Penn State is up first.
 
63-43. We were in control all the way. #2 seed Illinois, 7-4 in the semis.
 
December 24
 
73-66. They gave us a battle but our PG Jake Gray pulled us through, 26, 5, 8. #1 seed, #8 ranked UConn for the title.
I hate not being home with the kids on the holiday and we’re at Tulane next so I won’t be home until the 28th. I called before bedtime today and will call again tomorrow.
 
December 25
67-60 for the title! They stayed close all the way but we never lost the lead in  the 2nd half. It got down to 1 a few times but we hit a basket every time we needed to. Center Dean Leach, 17, 11, 2, and PG Jake Gray, 17, 4, 4 led the way.
 
December 27
 
We beat Tulane by 12 to end the pre-conference season 13-0. Home tomorrow. Seems like I’ve been away forever.
 
January 1, 2005
 
Happy new year!


#36

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January 8
 
We finally lose one, at Minnesota. We shot 26.9%.
 
January 15
 
Beat #4 Michigan. #4, RPI #2, 16-1, 3-1.
 
January 29
 
All of our committed guys hit the SAT score but one we offered to didn’t. 20-1, 7-1. Tied for 1st with Ohio State.
 
February 5
 
Ohio State lost. They’re in a 3 way tie with Michigan and Indiana, one back of us. We’re rebounding well, +10.2, taking care of the ball, +3.2 in TOs, +3.0 in assists. We don’t always shoot well but our D is usually solid. We play 7 and all are playing well. #20 Ohio State on the road and #8 Indiana at home this week.
 
February 12
 
Lost to Ohio State, beat Indiana. Tied with Ohio State and Michigan for 1st with 4 to play. Our last game is at Michigan.
 
February 25
 
Michigan beat us by 15, there, so we finish 2nd. Another night when we couldn’t make shots. 
 
We finish the regular season 26-3, 13-3. #5, RPI #5.
 
March 10
 
We played Purdue in the round of 8. 88-64. All the favorite won so #9 Indiana is next. We beat them by 22 at our place. I think it will be tougher this time.
 
March 11
 
72-68. It was much tougher. Dean Leach had 25, 12 to lead us. A return match with Michigan. We didn’t play very well last time.
 
March 12
 
60-55! 13 lead changes, 10 ties. With 33 seconds left and the score tied, Leach made a layup, was fouled, and converted. They came down and missed and it took them awhile to foul Tod Oma. He made them both. Great win! 29-3, #4, RPI #3, so we should be #1 somewhere.
#1 in the Midwest.
 
Mai is not coming with us to Detroit for the first two games but if we go further she will join us. She thinks the kids are old enough to leave them at home with Mama Li, and Mama agrees.
 
Oregon gives us a scare in  the round of 32, but we survive. On to Iowa City with Mai joining us.
 
March 23
#22 Ohio State in the Sweet Sixteen. We lost to them by 8 at their place.
 
82-66. Oma and Bayn led the way. #3 New Mexico and #5 Michigan were upset in this round. #11 seed, 20-14 Wake Forest in the Elite Eight. They’ve had quite a run for an 11 seed. 
 
March 25
 
77-64 and we’re in the final four. We’ll play #1 ranked Florida. On the other side it’s #11 ranked BYU vs. #16 New Mexico, so our game will very likely decide the national championship. Mai will definitely join us in Chicago!
 
April 1
 
Lots of excitement. This is the first time I bring a team to the final four. Florida has a terrific team. We’ll need to play really well and get a little lucky.
 
50-60. Tod Oma sprained his wrist early on. He played but he wasn’t at more than about 75%. That hurt. Jake Gray was a little overmatched at PG and was in foul trouble all night. One or two of the calls were questionable but not terribly so. We were +12 on the boards and -5 in TOs, but without Oma and Gray at their best we were outmanned. Florida is a great team and they figure to beat #16 ranked New Mexico State easily.
 
April 4
 
Not so easily but Florida won, 79-68.
 
Awards: I was named national coach of the year. Quite an honor! It won’t hurt in the job search either. Tod Oma made 2nd team nationally. In conference Tod and Dean Leach made 1st team, Jay Bayn made 2nd, and I got the coaching award.
April 9
 
Let’s see what kind of offers we get. 
 
Another year in Madison. I had to explain to an irate Papa Joe that there simply are not many jobs at the level I’m reaching for. He’s ready to start a new restaurant. As we spoke I got the idea that he may start a second one here.
 
“Not too close. I don’t want to give myself competition. Maybe 40, 50 miles away.”
 
He’s looking in the area around Milwaukee.
 
April 23
 
I ask for a facilities upgrade. We need one. And we get it, up from B+ to A-.
 
Team Prestige is up to 63. My numbers: 313-137, .696. Off- 50, Def- 78, Recruit- 90, Scout- 44, Player Development- 64, Reputation- 60. I’d love to get back to the final four!


#37

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May 1
 
It is really difficult to believe that I am starting my 15th year as a head coach, that I am now 37 years old, and that I have a daughter who will soon be 3, and a son who is 1 1/2. I could not be happier with my life. I can’t imagine that I could ever have found a wife more perfectly suited to me, my kids are fantastic, and my in laws are truly family.
 
As to my career, I am more than happy with the progress I’ve made as a coach, and U. of Wisconsin, even though it isn’t my final destination, is simply a great place to coach. Madison is a really great place to live.
We are ranked #16 in the first preseason polls.
 
June 30
 
Happy 3rd birthday, Lili!
 
We have 4 scholarships. Looking at 10 guys for now.
 
August 7
 
4 on the Norton List: #17 Dak Bram, PG, #24, Max Bibb, PF, #27 J. T. Dill, PF, #48, Brad Dyer, SG.
 
We’re getting some positive responses from lots of recruits.
 
September 18
 
We got a PG to commit and we’re close to a couple of other guys. We were invited to the Coaches Classic. We’re playing a very challenging schedule. Hopefully not too challenging.
 
Papa Joe closed on a piece of land just west of Milwaukee and expects to break ground within a week for Thai Garden II.
 
September 25
 
Pleasantly surprised to report that we got all 4 recruits, 2 PGs, 2 Cs.
 
October 2
 
Lili showed me a book she is reading. It’s Dr. Seuss but she is definitely reading it.
 
First day of practice. I think we’ll do well again this year.
 
We’re picked to win the conference.
 
October 23
 
The last preseason poll has us at #4.
 
November 20
 
We won the Coaches Classic, beating a couple of ranked teams along the way. And at the end of the week we’re ranked #1! This team really plays well together. The scoring is pretty evenly distributed among all 5 starters which makes us very difficult to defend.
 
Lou turned 2 this week. My little ones are growing too quickly. Lili is reading “real books” now, not just Dr. Seuss. She reads to Lou who sits in rapt attention as she reads and shows him the pictures.
 
Mai is back to working full time and is engaged in what seems to be some really high level, ground breaking research. Some new concept related to black holes. She’s working with another professor here, and professors at two other universities. The internet makes that so much easier than in the old days.
 
November 27
 
6-0 but 2 ranked teams this week.
 
Papa Joe is at the construction site most days. He hopes to open in early March. His brother’s second oldest son is flying over. He knows the business since he worked at the restaurant in Bangkok. He will manage the new restaurant when Papa Joe leaves.
 
December 4
 
We beat #7 Brigham Young by 2, then easily beat #14 Kansas. BYU hung with us all night, neither team ever led by more than 8. It was good for us to be challenged and I love the way we stayed focused and never gave up. We’re still ranked #1, RPI #1.
 
Louisville stopped our win streak at 9. We had a good first half but we simply could not make a shot in the 2nd, 7-35, 1-11 on threes, 2-7 from the line. We played well otherwise, +6 on the boards, +3 TOs. One of those nights.
 
December 18
 
Back to back road losses as Marquette beat us. Then we broke the string by winning at home. We were flat against Marquette. I really kicked butt in the practices following that game and we were much better against #10 Creighton, winning by 10 and looking good.
 
December 25
 
A great holiday. The kids are at ages where it’s really fun to watch their reactions.
 
January 1
 
Happy 2006!
 
We finish the pre-conference season 12-2, #1, #1. +8.5 RBs, + 2.8 TOs, +11.6 Points per game, +2.0 Assists.


#38

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January 8
 
#6 Michigan beat us at their place. 1-1 in conf.
 
January 15
 
Northwestern beat us at their place. That does NOT make me happy. Kurt John will start for Kurt Bibb who hasn’t been giving us much.
 
January 22
 
Can’t win on the road, Indiana beat us. 3-3 and very unhappy. #1 in conf. Iowa, there, is next so I may be even unhappier. We’re trying all kinds of things in practice.
 
January 29
 
Lost at Iowa, 4-4 in conf. Tied for 6th. Not good at all.
 
On a positive note all 3 recruits hit our SAT score.
 
Mai and I are looking at Montessori schools in the area, just in case we stay.
 
February 5
 
A win on the road and a two win week.
 
We’re playing better, 5 wins in a row and tied for 4th. 20-6, 8-4. John is giving us a lot more than Bibb did at SF.
 
February 19
 
7 in a row, tied for 3rd. 2 to play.
 
February 26
 
2 more wins, 9 straight, we finish 2nd, and we’re #2 in the country, #1 RPI. 24-6, 12-4.
 
March 10
 
It’s 16-13 Indiana in the round of 8.
 
65-62. Whew! Both starting guards and our #1 back up got in foul trouble in the 2nd half and we almost let this one slip away. #4 ranked Michigan in the round of 4. We lost by 9 there and then won by 23 at home. 
 
March 11
 
75-66. We played much better today, and we pulled away late. #8 Ohio State for the title. We only beat them by 7, at home, in our only meeting.
 
March 12
 
48-67. We were awful. Shot 32%, 22% on threes, 57% from the line. Our outside D was nonexistent. 18 TOs. 
 
Hopefully we got a bad game out of our system. Nearly all of the top ranked teams also lost so I think we’ll get a #1 seed.
 
#1 overall. Didn’t expect it but we’ll take it! You never know but this team doesn’t seem to have what it takes to win a title. Of course all you need to do is get hot for 6 games.
 
March 23
 
We breezed through the first 2 rounds. Lots of upsets. We’ll face #12 seed Weber State, 24-8, in the Sweet Sixteen.
69-51. We’ll face our first challenge in the Elite Eight, #2 seed, #6 ranked Ohio State. They just beat us by 19 for the Big 10 title. We beat them by 7 in the regular season. We’re expecting a battle.
 
March 25
 
60-69. And yet again, we couldn’t hit shots. Our D wasn’t all that impressive but we took 12 more shots than OSU and still lost.
 
This was not a great year, all in all. On paper we had a very good record and we made the Elite Eight, but we did not live up to our expectations.
 
Unranked, #8, #6, #4 ranked teams made it to the final four. As I said the other day, lots of upsets!
 
April 4
 
Mai and I went to the final four, with Mama Li and the kids. Only Mai and I went to the games, of course.
North Carolina beat Ohio State by 4 for the title.
Awards: Our C, Kyle Flick, was conference POY and first team, along with Dean Leach.
 
April 9
 
UCLA. Mai and I are flying out there to see. I think it may be a little too urban but is there a more elite program? It also helps that UCLA is one of the schools working on the research project that Mai is involved with.
 
April 11
 
We are now Bruins! I simply couldn’t say no to UCLA. There will be some rebuilding to do. I’m flying out tomorrow. Mai and the kids, and Mama Li will join me in a couple of weeks. Papa Joe will get here when he can, but it may be the end of summer. He’s thrilled though. He lived most of his life in Bangkok so he loves life in a big city.
 
April 23
Hired my assistants. Asked for a facilities upgrade but didn’t get it.
 
Mai wanted to fly out to look at houses but Papa Joe said we should rent something near campus. He would build our houses. Okay. How much money does he have? Real estate out here is insanely priced and he doesn’t even blink. He says he thinks 3 or 4 restaurants in the L. A. area would work out just fine. He will fly out and spend a day a week looking at possible sites for restaurants, as well as sites near campus. He wants two houses on one property. I can’t even estimate how many million all of that will cost, and then there’s the prices of getting 3 or 4 restaurants up and running.
 
“Don’t worry, Alvin. I can take care of it, easy.”
 
And so a new adventure begins.
UCLA has a Team prestige rating of 71. My numbers: 342-145, .702. Off- 54, Def- 84, Recruit- 90, Scout- 45, Player Development- 69, Reputation- 66.


#39

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May 1
 
Los Angeles is spread out all over the place and the traffic and pollution are insane, but once you get on campus it’s utterly beautiful; I let Papa Joe know that we need to live as close to campus as possible.
 
I’ve been meeting with my new assistants daily. There’s an awful lot to do. 
 
June 26
 
There was nobody worth going after in the transfer pool. 
 
5 scholarships. We need bigs more than guards. Looking at 15: 3 PGs, 1 SG, 4 SFs, 2 PFs, 5 Cs. All have at least some interest in us and all are top 50.
 
Mai and I discovered that there is an experimental school for gifted kids on campus here. Both kids qualify (what a surprise) and they’ll both start school here in August. Mai is really happy to be here. Of the schools involved in the research project this was the one she felt had the best people to work with. It definitely looks like this is the last stop on the trail for us.
 
Papa Joe bought a property right next to the campus. He will renovate the biggest building to turn it into Thai Garden IV. Then he’ll tear down the other buildings to make room for his house and ours. I can’t even begin to imagine how much all of this will cost.
 
August 1
 
Don’t know how he does it; Papa Joe closed on the property today. Talk about record time. Contractors will begin work on Wednesday. Two sets, one to tear down the buildings where the houses will go, one to begin renovations on the building that will become Thai Garden IV. Oh, Mama Li’s brother’s son will move here from Bangkok to be the assistant manager. He arrives next week. He will live with Papa Joe and Mama Li for awhile but there is room for a third house on the property. I asked, and Papa Joe and Mama Li are out of nieces and nephews, but they have other people they trust who could come here if Papa Joe decides to open more restaurants.
 
“Los Angeles is a big area. We maybe have a few more Thai Gardens,” Papa said.
 
September 18
 
Got 5 recruits to commit: 2 PGs, 2 SFs, and a PF.
 
We’re going to the preseason NIT. Playing a pretty strong schedule; hopefully not too strong.
 
October 2
 
First day of practice with my new team. I don’t know much about these guys, only what I’ve seen on the tapes. It will take a few days for me, and for my staff, to get a clear assessment.
We’re picked to finish 8th in our 12 team conference. One of our goals is top half. Hm.
 
Construction is really moving along on the restaurant. Papa Joe is aiming at a New Year’s Eve opening. The houses are coming along more slowly. We’ll probably be able to occupy sometime in the spring.
 
November 6
 
Practices are going well. I don’t see us as title contenders this year but middle of the pack in conference seems attainable.
 
The exhibition games taught me a lot about my new team.
 
“So Alvin, how come you never ask me where I get my money?”
 
“Well, Papa Joe, in the U. S. people don’t usually ask that kind of question. They wait for the person to tell, if they want to tell. And then I figured you made it from the restaurant in Bangkok.”
 
“Long story. You want to hear?”
 
“Absolutely.”
 
“My father was very rich- I mean VERY rich. Crazy rich. When I am young he insist I go to college. When I graduate he tell me if I show him a bank account with 1 million dollars- Thai equivalent of that, you know- and if I have no debt, he will give me half his fortune. I don’t know but that is about a half billion dollars.”
 
“Wow!”
 
“Yes. He does not make this offer to my younger brother. So anyway I major in finance in college. I decide I can make million quick and easy in stock and bond trading. He loan me one hundred thousand dollars at competitive interest, no break. I start trading. In 2 ½ years I make a million, have no debts. He give me half a billion dollars.”
 
“Wow again!”
 
“Yeah. So I am now 24 years old, just marry Li, what I am going to do? I like a challenge. I decide to open biggest, best restaurant in Bangkok. I take year to learn everything about restaurant business, then I buy restaurant in middle of business district, remodel, build restaurant just like Thai Garden. It is enormous success right from the start. I make lots of money I don’t need, decide I need new challenge. Biggest challenge is to be successful in America. Only place I know anybody is Dayton, a man who worked for my father, managed his U. S. interests, so I go there in 1987, with Li and Mai, and her brothers. Leave my brother in charge of restaurant in Bangkok.
 
“I don’t know anybody except one man, I don’t know American way of doing business, but I learn. In October, 1990 I open first Thai Garden. It is big success. You know the rest of story.”
 
“Papa Joe, you work very hard. Why? You are so rich you don’t need to work.”
 
“No, but I need challenge, stimulation. I don’t work so hard. Dani ran restaurant in Madison, my nephew Sami will soon run restaurant here. I do big money parts, other interesting stuff. You don’t know but in Madison, and in Bangkok when I go there every month, I am involved in lots of BIG business deals. Will be here when I learn who movers and shakers are. It is fun!”
 
“You are an amazing man, Papa Joe.”


#40

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November 20
 
Happy birthday, Lou. He turned 3 on the 18th.
 
NIT preseason. We were the #10 seed. Played #7 Stanford first. Beat them easily. Then it was #4 seed, #2 ranked Florida. They sent us home, as expected. We gave them a bit of a run though, losing by only 12. In both games we turned it over too often.
All 5 recruits signed.
 
(Author’s Note: I moved recruiting level from Normal to Hard.)
 
November 27
 
We went 1-1 this week. We lost a home game we should have won. It’s early; we’re still figuring things out. I’m not ready to make any changes yet but we may do something about the SG spot, and there’s a big guy on the bench who has played well when he goes in.
 
The kids LOVE their school. They talk about the things they do all the time and the keys that they DO, they don’t just sit. Sounds great!
 
December 4
 
Another 1-1 week but the loss was to #3 Iowa. No shame in that.
 
December 11
 
2-0 this week. A BIG win against #11 Wake Forest and then we beat UNLV on the road. Starting to jell? We’re rebounding very well and our TOs are slowly coming down. 
 
The kids still love their school. They do some incredible things. My 4 ½ year old is learning to play the piano and she’s doing some things related to the solar system. I’ve already mentioned that she’s been reading for some time. Now it’s “Chapter books,” you know, novels.
 
Lou is doing some math stuff that seems way too complicated for his age. He gets it though. It’s obvious that he does. He doesn’t read but when they read to him and show videos he can explain plot, character, all sorts of things.
 
Papa Joe is ahead of schedule. He will definitely open on new year’s eve. He’s already advertising and training staff.
 
December 18
 
Great week. 2-0 including a home win vs. #3 Maryland. Yes, we are jelling!
 
December 25
 
Another 1-1 week, barely. We squeaked out a 1 point win over Cincinnati. I have to say that I’m very happy to say that we end the pre-conference season at 8-4. We played 4 top 10 teams and beat two of them. There may still be some lineup changes but I like the direction we’re moving in!
 
The holiday was great. The kids were both upset about the fact that they couldn’t go to school for a whole week but the celebration and the gifts helped.
 
Papa Joe and Sami are very busy. The restaurant opens in just a few days. Sami is a great guy. He works hard, he’s serious when he needs to be but he always has a smile and he’s very friendly to all of us.





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