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McCollum's Column: Some musings on Derek Fisher, NCAA challenges and the College World Series

Posted: June 10, 2014 - 4:55pm

Here’s a fresh batch of “David’s Appetizers,” assorted musings and observations on the sports scene:

IN KNICK OF TIME

Derek Fisher is the perfect coach to work under Phil Jackson and the New York Knicks.

The 39-year-old Little Rock-Parkview and UALR star knows NBA pressure. He has played in a record 259 playoff games, has made game-winning shots in the playoffs and has five championship rings.

He also knows the game off the court, having served as the head of the NBA Players Association. He knows negotiation.

He’s been a rock in locker rooms from high school to pros.

He’s stable and he’s a icon of trust for all.

He has faithfully played and served under Jackson. He knows the system.

Jackson, if he doesn’t want to abandon completely hands-on coaching, can go to the bench and work alongside Fisher periodically without communication problems. Jackson can mentor him on the finer points of the game, particularly the physcological aspect.

Fisher has no head coaching experience. I like what he said about that:

“But I am experienced. Basketball is a game that I am experienced in playing, understanding, leading in, guiding in, helping another group of people achieve the greatest gift in the world as a professional athlete, and that’s being a champion. That I have experience in, and that’s the experience that I plan on sharing with these players, sharing with this organization.”

It’s been great to watch his growth as a high school star on some of Little Rock-Parkview’s best teams.

I expect him to be one of the next great young NBA coaches.

CHALLENGES AHEAD

With stipends and benefits being advanced for athletes in the NCAA’s power conferences, the smaller schools and those with limited budgets in NCAA Division-I could face an ongoing challenge in a potential arms race for perks.

Among the proposals advanced by Pac-12 presidents that will likely be matched by smaller schools are liberalization of transfer rules, cutbacks in practice time and giving athletes a greater voice with conferences and the NCAA.

Others that relate to stipends and other benefits can strain budgets and create recruiting chaos.

Here’s what Dr. Brad Teague, UCA’s athletic director, told sportsillustratedcnn.com as he analyzed the challenge:

“Do we start picking and choosing some of the things? Well, let’s go ahead and give the stipend but not give the travel for the parents. Let’s do unlimited meals and snacks, but not do this. Several in our conference might pick some, several may pick others, but it really boils down to what does the recruit want? Well, this school’s giving me this. What about you all?’’

CWS

Only two of the eight national seeds (Virginia and TCU) made the College World Series.

The two that made it from the Southeastern Conference (Vanderbilt and Ole Miss) are surprises.

There are three teams from the Big 12 (almost four since Oklahoma State made a regional final). All three are from Teas (the University of Texas, TCU and Texas Tech.

It should be completely wide open — as college baseball has been all year.

If pitching and defense are the keys, watch the Big 12 teams. They have a combined 34 shutouts. The other five teams have a combined 36.

(Sports columnist David McCollum can be reached at 501-505-1235 or david.mccollum@thecabin.net or follow him on twitter @dmaclcd)

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