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Andy Katz On Duke & Stanford, Post-Draft

Andy Katz has an interesting column up about Duke
and Stanford recovering
from players leaving early (three for Duke and two
for Stanford), arguing, among other things, that Duke will have an easier time
and that Stanford is more selective in who they admit. Ok, but as one of our posters pointed out on the bulletin board, how then does Stanford excel at football when it takes so many more athletes?

Anyway, there are a couple of basic points. Duke and Stanford are both highly
selective, but after 20+ years and a strong track record of graduation, Coach K
can pitch an argument for a kid whose grades may be less than perfect. But
at Duke, like (we presume) Stanford, other factors play into admission as
well. In a few cases - Chris Carrawell comes to mind, along with Sean
Dockery - Duke has taken chances on kids from less than prosperous
backgrounds. They do this with a number of students, as we presume
Stanford does, with diversity and opportunity being the goals.

Secondly, the two programs pursue different paths towards success. In
Duke's case, Krzyzewski put an immediate emphasis on athleticism when he got to
Duke and defense pushed his program to the top. But before he was getting
classes like Brand-Battier-Avery-Burgess, and Boozer-Dunleavy-Williams, etc, and
this year's class, he was recruiting guys like Robert Brickey, John Smith, Brian
Davis, Thomas Hill, David Henderson, Kevin Strickland, Danny Meaghar, and
a lot of other guys who were maybe not as highly recruited out of high school as
some other guys were, but who had some skills and talents that fit in at
Duke. Just for another example, look what Duke did with Billy King. Let's
face it - the guy was a savant. He played defense and could handle the
ball, and that was pretty much it. At Duke, the system allowed him to
exploit his strengths.

Stanford does things very differently. This article says that Montgomery likes to have six (six!) post players. That leaves seven
players for four positions, basically, since Stanford usually likes to run at
least two big men at a time. Duke usually has two or possibly three post players, and uses the grants on athletic, mid-sized players.

Stanford also typically plays a slower, more patterned offense, and a rugged,
but less aggressive defense. They play a style which is similar to what
Duke used to play, basically in the pre-K days. We remember an article in
(probably) the Durham Morning Herald (might have been the Sun) that marveled,
during Tommy Amaker's freshman year or so, about Duke's increased
athleticism. Duke had always had courageous players, strong players, tough
players, it said. But quick players? Fast ones? Nah. Not Duke.

Having committed to Montgomery's style, and competing in the Bay area with
not just Cal but the Warriors (ok, well maybe Cal), the Giants, the 49ers, the
various lesser pro teams, and all the distractions that magnificent Bacchanal by
the Bay has to offer, well, it's not entirely recruiting that's Stanford's
problem. It's at least partly philosophical. Duke has played at very
high levels, and so has Notre Dame, though not so much lately. Stanford
football certainly plays at a high level. If there are reasons why Duke
has better talent on a consistent basis, it may be less admissions than it is
philosophy. Coach K wants a style that will make controlling the ball very
difficult for an opponent; Montgomery recruits for a style which makes control
key.

Put it this way: if Stanford basketball had the equivalent of the West Coast
offense of 49ers fame, every high school kid with a GPA of over 3.5 would have
them on their recruiting list. Stanford's style is cerebral, precise, and
successful. It's also a crashing bore more often than not. For Montgomery,
control seems to be very important, and as long as his style remains the same, a
certain number of kids will look elsewhere. That's not knocking what he's
done, because frankly, we never would have believed anyone could do such a great
job at Stanford. But the argument that Stanford has a tougher path - an
article Montgomery likes to slip in periodically - well, that path is at
least partly self-inflicted. Do you think Quin Snyder or Mike Brey would
have trouble recruiting at Stanford?