Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A one-ingredient soup is a bad soup

Attended DePaul's practice yesterday at Cal's Haas Pavilion where the Blue Demons will take on Cal tonight.

Many thanks to Coach Jerry Wainwright and assistant Gary DeCesare for allowing me to sit in.

When I got home, I dug out an article from November 2006 from the Chicago Sun-Times that I'd saved about Coach Wainwright, who's also coached at Richmond and UNC-Wilmington.

According to the story, "Wainwright and DeCesare are gym rats. They like to outwork everybody. They understand that recruiting is about relationships. Wainwright is very approachable, someone who cares about his players and the people who are involved in their lives. DeCesare is a grass-roots guy who knows what it takes to succeed at the high school, AAU and college levels."

A sign on his desk -- ''You can modify behavior but you can't rehabilitate character'' -- provides a hint to his philosophy. Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, a good friend, once told him that he traced much of his success to the fact that he talked to his players more than he coached them. Wainwright never forgot.

A couple of highlights from the article:

-- On his recruiting philosophy: ''I want to recruit Cadillacs and polish them. There is a place for people to rebuild junk cars, but today what we do will be on the front page. If a Cadillac hasn't been polished or fine-tuned, it speaks to problems in the future.''

"One of our rules is I don't recruit someone I can't have a conversation with. I'm almost 60, and these kids are 20. I have to stay current. I know more about rap songs than the U.S. Treasury policy. I'm not real good at cocktail parties."

-- On what he looks for in a player: Wainwright looks for "good shooters and good attitudes, players who blend versatility and athleticism, basketball players who are athletic and can play multiple positions."

-- On the importance of role players and chemistry: "Backcourts win games, inside play, not inside players. Most everyone in college basketball has a pretty good first five. Six through 11 is where they measure championship teams. A one-ingredient soup is a bad soup. But the most important thing is chemistry and team morale. It matters what they do, not what I do."