Monday, March 10, 2008


It's often cringe-worthy when people who write for other sections of the newspaper try to tell us about sports. (Yes, there's a defensiveness -- where will us sports guys be when truly talented writers descend upon us?)

Jack Aubry, a seasoned political reporter who apparently played hoops at Queen's in his day, had a glorified letter to the editor special in the Paper of Record today about Dave Smart not being up for CIS men's basketball coach of the year, even though the Carleton Ravens are 31-0.

"... There's already been a bit of craziness off the court that has left serious Canadian basketball fans shaking their heads in wonderment."
No, not really; anyone who follows university sports for more than two weeks out of the year (Final 8 and the week of the Vanier Cup) is numb to rather enigmatic award choices. Remember when the Hec Crighton went to a quarterback (McMaster's Ben Chapdelaine in 2001) with more interceptions than touchdown passes that season?

"... Dave Smart, the Johnny Wooden of Canadian basketball, will not be receiving the national coach of the year award for 2007-2008."

"I don't want to exaggerate, but in the world of awards, it's akin to denying Albert Einstein the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921. Or telling Wayne Gretzky that he wouldn't receive the Art Ross Trophy for scoring in 1985-86 even though he broke the NHL record for most points in one season with 215."

Sorry, you exaggerated. Yes, it's silly to synch up OUA and CIS awards when the two best candidates might be in the same division. And Smart is the Canadian game's answer to Wooden (although Wooden didn't win coach of the year during all 10 of UCLA's national championship seasons -- he only won seven times).

A poorly designed system that will invariably produce confusing outcomes. There's no need to draw analogies even the most hyperbolizing sportswriter wouldn't commit to print, especially when it's apples and oranges.


The Nobel Prize is for accomplishments that have stood up to a test of time. Einstein was honoured in 1921 for scientific proofs he had come up with more than a decade earlier. In hockey, the Art Ross Trophy is a straight stats award. If the coach-of-the-year award just went to the coach whose team won the most games, yeah, it would be a totally valid analogy. (Guess what, in that 1985-86 season, Gretzky's peers in the players' union didn't select him as the winner of the Lester B. Pearson Award as the NHL's outstanding player. They honoured Mario Lemieux instead. )
"There should be blood over this."
No, there shouldn't be. It's amateur sports, for pity's sake. It's the ultimate tribute to Carleton's coaches and players that Smart wasn't the OUA East coach of the year during an unbeaten season. (It went to Toronto's Mike Katz.) They have reached that level where it almost seems redundant to honour them. They make a difficult game look simple. Let's appreciate that instead of being a bunch of homers.

Like any serious Canadian basketball fans need Smart to win an award to recognize his accomplishments and his abilities. The proof is in how hard his teams get after it on the court.

(There's a very good rebuttal up at The basic point is this is getting silly -- and it appears the Carleton student paper has shown more accountability and perspective than a Parliament Hill reporter.)


Big V said...

I have an issue with how the coach of the year award is given out.

I find that a lot of times in all sports the coach of the eyar recipiant is someone whos team has dramatically improved their record.
Whats to say one coach is better than the other.
In football its not that unlikely that a team improves thanks to one or two players who come out of their shell. Yet the coach still gets the award even though he may not be the best that year.

If you look at the OHL, it is clear the Brian Kilrea is one of if not the best coach in the leagues history. He somehow manages to make his team a contender every year, regardless of the players. Chances are if he had two seasons in a row with the best record in the OHL he would only get coach of the year for the first... Because its hard to move up past the Top.

Anonymous said...

I happen to think Dave Smart should have gotten COY this year.
However, I am not really upset that Mike Katz won it...especially when you consider Katz took over a moribund program and has returned it to national prominence.
Same thing with Dave DeAviero who revived a nearly dead Ottawa U program and was rewarded with back to back COY's.
The irony of this whole controversy is that Smart himself probably could not care less whether he won or not.
He's got four COY's already.
He would most likely be upset if Aaron Doornekamp doesn't come away with the Moser.
At any rate, a big thumbs down to the Citizen for publishing that tirade.
Jack Aubrey's article is what it op-ed piece.
But you have to back it up with some facts.
This was just nothing but pre-conceived notions and conspiracy theory.
I think Aubrey and the Citizen owe Coach Katz a sincere and profuse apology.

sager said...

It's just hard to grasp where Mr. Aubry (since the subject is the Citizen, let's use honorifics) was coming from, speaking as a lifelong sports-page reader and admittedly far, far less accomplished journalist.

Mark Wacyk rightly called him out for the potshot he took at Mike Katz and the University of Toronto. A good coach and a good school deserve better than that.