Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Out With the Old, In With the Really Old

By Kibby Kleiman
Tue, Jan 1, 2008 at 2:03 PM

New Year's brings some auld tidings at the University of San Francisco this holiday season and with it the best sports story in the Bay to bring in ‘08

The Dons men's basketball team spent the Yuletide holiday recycling a coach from Christmas past.

71-year old Eddie Sutton, two wins shy of 800 lifetime, was enticed to come to the Hilltop to - actually, it's unclear why. He says he wants the round number milestone and then in the next breath says really what difference is it to have 798 wins lifetime or a bucket more? He wants to retire in better graces than he had after his first two or three retirements.

He's never been to USF, will need to borrow a program to learn his player's names, and is set to take over a team that has been irrelevant for roughly three decades or about the time when Sutton was a merely a middle-aged Midsoutherern hard-ass coach.

If you want to wish a curmudgeonly start on the New Year's festivities, note not-so-fast Eddie's quotes following his debut with the Dons after a beating at the hands of the Weber State Wildcats Friday night, where he slags his new team's rebounding, speed, shot selection, free-throw shooting, energy, substitutes, defense and shoelace tying. Sutton's rep is full of stories of hellacious practice sessions, conditioning drills that end up with his charges drowning in pools of perspiration, and autocratically calling out the weakness of today's modern player (for nearly fifty years).

Asked by a reporter for a bit of silver lining about his new program, Sutton grumbled, "I'm not a miracle worker."

The man's resume is spotty, he brings with him all the trappings of Big Time college sports (a rather rare phenomenon around these parts). NCAA tournament victories interspersed with auto accidents, drinking episodes, nepotism charges, recruiting irregularities and lavish severance packages.

The culture clash(es) alone should make for an explosive season at USF. So, if you like your champagne toast with a shot of something a little less bubbly, 2008 could be the year the New Year's baby might wish he never left the locker room.

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