More Q-and-A with Denny Crum on today’s college game, the best JC player he ever saw, and how he still is ‘Cool Hand Luke’

On the official “Joe B. and Denny Show” website (linked here), Joe B. Hall wears the blue jacket and Denny Crum has the red blazer ablazin’.

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Kentucky vs. Louisville never dies. Even in a battle of Snugglies.

Check out the clip from CBS Sports when Louisville and Kentucky met in the 1983 NCAA tournament, in the Mideast Regional final, with Crum and Hall trading barbs.

And here’s more from today’s Q-and-A (linked here) on Crum being inducted into the inaugural Pierce College Hall of Fame on Monday night (more on that linked here):

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Q: Do you think junior colleges still have the same impact on getting players or coaches into major college programs as in the past?

Crum: Yea, I don’t see as many go from junior college to major colleges as it used to be. It seems what they do is hire coaches from successful programs to fill coaching vacancies, and then those other spots get filled by an assistant or someone from a smaller four-year school or a D-II program. It used to be a great way for a coach to move up.

Q: Maybe it’s someone many people would have never heard of, but who’s the best player you’ve ever seen or coached that came out of a junior college?

Crum: Oh boy …. I’ll tell you what, Sidney Wicks was maybe as good as it gets when he was at Santa Monica College. Six-foot-eight and strong. But you don’t see those kinds of kids anymore in junior college. It used to be that you could use a good junior college player to fill in some of your holes on the roster, if you needed a guard, or a forward, or even a center. Everyone has a need. More kids from JCs could go right in and start at four-year schools, but now it seems you come out of high school, go the four-year schoolk, stay a year and move on. I don’t think there needs to be any kind of stigma on being a junior college player.

Q: I saw a quote of yours that said, “When I was at UCLA with coach Wooden, we spent an hour to an hour and a half on fundamentals every single day; including the day before the national championship.” Do today’s college basketball teams lack in fundamentals?

Crum: I’ve seen too many of them that aren’t fundamentally sound. Regardless of talent. But I can give you examles of what a team can do with fundamentals — Northern Iowa, Cornell, those are great examples. And they’re in the Sweet 16.

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Q: Is it because college players come and go too quickly and don’t stay around long enough to learn the fundamentals?

Crum: We lose a lot of them, but you can see how 7 or 8 seniors on the Cornell team have obviously come a long way in four years. If you’re not fundamentally sound, that kind of success doesn’t happen. You’ve got to be better at than instead of just finding talented superstars.

Q: And there’s no secret why the kids leave early …

Crum: I can’t blame them for the kind of money they can make. Golly, you could stay in school and get 10 degrees and never make that kind of money. It’s hard to fault the kids, especially those from lower-income families. They’ve never had anything and it’s hard to pass up on. But the quality of player suffers and it has hurt college basketball. It doesn’t mean there are some good programs and teams out there. Overall, (the NBA) has been good for college, good for those kids that have the opportunity to be lottery picks. It shows. You can tell. But just think how good Kentucky could be if all those kids stayed. In four years, gracious, they’d be unbelieveable.

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Courtesy of Pierce College

Denny Crum, left, with former Pierce College President Rocky Young.

Q: Do you fill out a tournament bracket?

Crum: Yeah, and at the end of the first round, i had eight winners and eight losers, and seven of them were the favorites who got beat. It shows how teams seeded 10 or 11 — any one of them on a given nght can beat you. I’d never seen St. Mary’s play, or Utah State, or Washington. Or Cornell. And then a team like Michigan State and West Virginia lose their points guards … anyone can win at any time.

Q: And where did you have Louisville finishing in your bracket?

Crum: I had them losing in the second round to Duke. They can beat anyone, but they could also lose to anyone — and they did. Even if they played good enough to beat Cal (in the first round), I’m not sure they’d get past Duke. And then, like everybody else, I had Kansas beating Kentucky in the final.

Q: And that’s the beauty of the tournament. …

Crum: Absolutely, so don’t mess with it. If you go up to 96 teams, it may save some coaching jobs because they’d get something extra in their paychecks, but we have the best postseason going. The route to the Final Four is better than the Super Bowl or World Series. I’d hate to see it change.

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Q: One last thing: Did you like the name Al McGuire gave you when he was a TV broadcaster, “Cool Hand Luke”? Can you apply that to your poker playing now?

Crum: As a kid growing up, when you’ve got name like Crum, you get called everything. Al and I turned out to be really good friends. It’s hard of me to be critical of him. That didn’t bother me. It does apply to poker playing. You’ve got to have a lot of patience, I’ll admit that. That could irritate some people.
Texas Hold ‘em is the only game where you can lose even if you have a good hand. I can’t think of any other game when you can lose even if you’re playing well. I haven’t played in a tournament much this year.

== More on Denny Crum:

== A recent interview with the website LostLettermen.com (linked here)
== His Basketball Hall of Fame page (linked here)
== His Louisville website page (linked here)
== His Wikipedia page (linked here)
== His latest poker tournament appearance (linked here) and a 2005 SI story on his poker playing (linked here)

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