Thursday, March 15, 2007

All they needed was a chance

One of the most enjoyable things about following sports is realizing the lessons they teach that carry over into everyday life.

The lesson that came through loud and clear from the first- and second-round games this week in Winston-Salem was the value of giving people a chance.

Coach Roy Williams didn’t think Reyshawn Terry was good enough to play for North Carolina when Williams inherited Terry from departed coach Matt Doherty. But Williams told Terry he would give him an opportunity and be fair with him. Terry matured into the best athlete on North Carolina’s team.

Tom Crean was just a high school coach when Tom Izzo, then an assistant coach at Michigan State, took an interest in him. Though their recruiting targets didn’t overlap when Izzo was at Michigan State and Crean was an assistant at Elma College, Izzo took Crean along to Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Rensselaer, Ind., to watch high school players.

"He was one of the first people to ever give me the time of day as a young coach," Crean said. "I looked up to him in a real hero-idol kind of way, but as time went on our friendship grew and we became peers."

Izzo is one of the great NCAA tournament coaches, and now Crean has become one of the hottest young names in coaching at Marquette, a job he took after serving four years on Izzo’s staff at Michigan State.

They meet each other Thursday evening in a first-round game that might not have been possible if Izzo hadn’t given Crean the same kind of chance Williams gave Terry. – Ken Tysiac