Lou Carnesecca, the former St. John's coach, is the name that comes to mind when you start thinking about college basketball in New York, a topic not in the country's mind until St. John's great season this year.
"Looie," as he's sometimes called, led St. John's to a Final Four in 1985, the pinnacle of his Hall of Fame career.
Carnesecca led the Red Men (former name for St. John's basketball team) to 18 NCAA Tournament appearances including an Elite Eight. I figured, what person could possibly be better to post than Lou Carnesecca during Final Four week.
Before you read the interview, tune into tomorrow's radio show at 5:30 ET PM until 7 PM ET on www.blogtalkradio.com/kingofsportsblog To call into the show to listen or speak to me, dial 310-982-4139.
Brad Wolff: As you know, Steve Lavin (current coach of St. John's) had all that success this season with players who had played under former coach, Norm Roberts. What do you think made this team so successful?
Lou Carnesecca: First of all, they've had great experience. They have been through the wars, but the big thing about Steve was that he got them to play better and he got them to believe in each other. This wonderful staff was able to, finally, have these kids playing at the ability we were hoping these kids would play. And they did and it has made us very proud. They've rejuvenated our program and gave us a tremendous lift.
BW: When it comes to winning, you are a coach that has been able to do that quite often. If you were to give three things that you need to win, what are they?
LC: Good players, good players, and good players (both laugh). Well you have to have players. The coach is just the director. You not only have to have players that are good, but you have to have players who appreciate the art of winning and appreciate playing together. There are many, many things, but those are the basic things. You have to play together, work hard, and believe in each other.
BW: How would you sum up your career in one sentence?
LC: I was very fortunate. I had great teaching. I had wonderful mentors and the big thing is that I was fortunate to coach at St. John's. I was lucky enough to have good players.
BW: What are your thoughts on the one-and-done situation in college basketball? (Listen to last week's show only on this topic, go to http://www.blogtalkradio.com/kingofsportsblog/2011/03/25/the-king-of-sports-blog-radio-32511-joe-posnanski)
LC: Well, I think its been that way quite a while. I really don't know. If a kid's that good, then he should go. Don't forget, injuries could happen and if you had a good piano player, you wouldn't keep him in school all his life, once he was ready you put him on Carnegie Hall and let him play.
BW: As a coaching legend, what do you think about Brad Stevens coaching Butler to back-to-back Final Fours? (On a side note, do I actually look like Brad Stevens?)
LC: That's an amazing story. It just goes to show you, if you get guys playing for four years, anything could happen. Its only one game and your gone.
BW: Well then, do you think that (Kentucky Coach) John Calipari could win it all with a couple of one-and-dones?
LC: Listen, anyone could win it this year. Its that good. And Connecticut has done a heck of a job this year. They've been monstrous!