Oct. 31, 2010
AN EVENING WITH COACH KNIGHT
Who: Legendary coach Bobby Knight
When/Where: 7 p.m., Monday (Nov.1) -- Embassy Suites
By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
If Albert Einstein were speaking, you might want to throw out a chalkboard and let the genius scratch out some mathematical formulas, some physics stuff, maybe kick around his famous theory of relativity.
If it Ludwig van Beethoven was in town, or maybe Billy Joel, you might drag out a piano and let them tickle the ivories while you sat back and enjoyed the musical ride.
It would be fitting if there was a basketball court in the Embassy Suite's Sandia Ballroom on Monday night, maybe some raw basketball talent, and Bobby Knight would full-court them with some fundamental knowledge of the game. Maybe kick out his theory on man-to-man defense.
The advice here would be to sit back, watch a hoops' genius at work, and enjoy the ride. And maybe be prepared to cover your ears if "The General" gets too carried away with the job.
In his purest form, Knight is a teacher and a disciplinarian. He is a giver of basics and fundamentals and honest-effort principles that helped make him the winningest men's coach ever at the D-I level. He sees the little pictures that help form the big pictures.
"He is a big-time educator," said Lobo coach Steve Alford, who played for Knight at Indiana. "He never wavers on the principles he believes in. He would make adjustments for what a player could or couldn't do, but he never tolerated any lack in fundamentals or effort."
Knight won 902 games overall, and three national championships at Indiana, with one of those NCAA titles coming when Alford was throwing in bombs and swishing free throws. Alford went 7-of-10 from 3-point range in the 1987 title game.
It was Knight, who once took a quick look at The Pit and the New Mexico job, who encouraged Alford to take a more serious look at taking over the UNM job. Knight recognized a good place to play ball.
The legendary coach will be the featured guest at 7 p.m, Monday (Nov. 1) at the Embassy Suites in a fundraiser that sends a portion of the money to UNM's libraries.
It is a side of Knight that often is overlooked by the media and fans, who usually are drawn to the more controversial side of this fiery, outspoken coach.
Alford said his first up close encounter with Knight came when Alford was in the third grade and signed up for an Indiana camp.
"My dad worked out a deal where I could come a year early," said Alford. "You weren't supposed to be in the camp until fourth grade. I bet I attended more Indiana camps than any other kid."
Obviously, that was a good deal for Alford. He learned the game from two of Indiana's best coaches - his father, Sam; and Knight. It was a good deal for Knight, too. He landed one of his best players ever.
In 1987, as a Indiana senior, Alford told "Sports Illustrated that he came to Indiana because: "(Knight), more than any other coach, or individual, could get the most out of me. He doesn't want me to be just a shooter. He wants me to become a complete player. He's taught me to think the game, to compensate for the size and quickness and jumping ability I give up to others by outthinking them."
Alford, a lean 6-foot-2, realized he had to get the most out of his talent in every area of the game. He passes on that belief to his Lobos, regardless of size or athletic ability. Be the best you can be. It's a fundamental principle for excellence.
His Lobos will have a chance to maybe hear the same message from a different voice on Monday. So, pull up a chair. Sit back and enjoy an evening with a special teacher.