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Entries in Lee Gerowitz (3)


It's A Mistake For Lance Stephenson To Turn Pro

Lance Stephenson

One Great Season

Nineteen-year-old Lance Stephenson has quite possibly made the worst decision of his life: after just one season of collegiate ball, the Big East Rookie of the Year from the University of Cincinnati will enter the 2010 NBA Draft.

Stephenson, a 6-foot-5 guard, averaged 12.3 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.5 assists per game for the Bearcats. Even more telling are statistics which show that Stephenson needed to make better on-court decisions: 81 turnovers in 34 games (nearly 2.4 per game), and he shot only 44 percent from the field, including 22 percent from three-point range. In short, Stephenson played like a freshman, albeit one with loads of talent. He even left room for improvement from the charity stripe by shooting a measly 66 percent.

Now, it's an off-court decision that may cost Stephenson and his family millions of dollars.

In non-statistical terms, Stephenson's strengths are his ability to drive to the basket and create, something most average NBA players his size can do. However, in the NBA, he'll not only need to do that, but handle the ball better and open up his offensive game by hitting mid-range to three-point jumpers on a more consistent basis. Otherwise, teams will sag off of him, dare him to shoot and simply turn him into the latest version of Felipe Lopez.

Stephenson is projected to be a late first-rounder at best. A second round slot -- which in the NBA means a non-guaranteed contract -- appears to be a more likely destination as of this moment. Of course, things can change between now and Draft Day on June 24.

Any NBA team who drafts Stephenson will be doing so based on potential. And if Stephenson lands in the second round, he potentially screws over himself, first and foremost.

Stephenson has stated his desire to "emotionally and financially support" his family, which includes his 2-year-old daughter. As heartwarming as that sounds, there's also a hard, cold reality: a 19-year-old kid, who's yet to reach his potential on the collegiate level, will now rely on excelling on the world's greatest basketball stage to support his family.

God Bless America.

Who's to blame? Exclude teenager Stephenson from the list, but feel free to include those adults who have influenced his decision.

Papa Stephenson, also known as Lance's dad, said, "We feel as a family this is the best thing for Lance's future, and he is ready for the NBA."

Translation: Someone in this family needs to bring home the bacon ... and quick.

Cincinnati Coach Mick Cronin, who just saw his team's 2010-2011 expectations plummet with Stephenson's departure, laid another "WTF" quote on the media when he said, "His personal circumstances dictate that he try to continue his development in the NBA while he's getting paid. He's going to get that opportunity to do it while alleviating the (financial) pressure on his family."

Note to Cronin: continuing development in the NBA while getting paid is also known in some circles as the NBA D-League. The "D" stands for "development." And the pay? Not too good.

Lance Stephenson certainly will have a shot at playing in the NBA. But the question is, for how long? Will Stephenson be a first-round flame-out? A second-round casualty who fades into the D-League? Or will the kid nicknamed "Born Ready" live up to his nickname and make the doubters -- this writer included -- shut up?

We're all ready to find out.

Gerowitz is a New York-based television producer, a Cincinnati graduate who once covered the Bearcats and occasional OGS contributor.


Don't Blame Brian Kelly; Blame UC

Lee Gerowitz

Special To One Great Season

NEW YORK -- When rumor turns to reality, as it did with Brian Kelly leaving Cincinnati for Notre Dame Thursday, love often turns to hate.

This particular saga, which, quite frankly, started the day Kelly stepped foot on UC's campus, began as a love affair.

The University of Cincinnati, its students and fans who had supported the program throughout the years, all wanted a winner in Clifton. After all, many of these folks were witnessing a once-proud basketball program struggle to recover from the fallout of the Bob Huggins era.

+ MORE FROM GEROWITZ: Kelly's Early UC Years Similar To Huggins'

Enter Brian Kelly. The wins on the gridiron quickly piled up, and the love affair was on.

A 22-6 record in two seasons, including a BCS berth in the 2009 Orange Bowl, will make football fans fall in love with you. Follow that up with an undefeated 12-0 regular season and another BCS berth in the Sugar Bowl, and Notre Dame comes knocking on your door.

Brian Kelly

Brian Kelly not only answered the door, but he let them in, let them take all of his belongings, pack them up and move them to South Bend, Indiana.

And now, some, not all, but some UC fans are hurt. Some are betrayed, even hateful toward the man they once supported. For these people, the love affair with Kelly is clearly over.

And why? Because Brian Kelly lied to them. Kelly promised them he'd stay at UC. He told the media, the fans and even his own players so.

One Cincinnati blog recently displayed comments directed at Kelly such as "Two Faced" and "...liar, traitor and he shall be marked with the sign of the beast for eternity!"


+ VIDEO: Brian Kelly Waves Goodbye To UC Fans In Pittsburgh
+ ARTICLE: Does Daunte Culpepper Hate Hot White Women?
+ GALLERY: The Hot Girls Of College Football
+ OPINION: Five Reasons Why Tim Tebow Should Not Win The Heisman
+ ANALYSIS: Cincinnati Is Going To Hate Brian Kelly

Well, there are always two sides to a love affair gone wrong, and if you're one of the bitter ones, shame on you. Shame on you for being blind toward what are the real reasons why UC is looking for a head football coach ... again.

BK, as the kids called him, was always up front about two key things: 1) What he thought it would take for UC to compete for a national championship each year, and 2) His admiration for Notre Dame. He repeatedly stated his case for point No. 1, and those close to Kelly were well aware of point No. 2.

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And let's get this out of the way before we continue: Blame the NCAA for the supposed dishonesty you get from the Brian Kellys of the world during sagas like this. It's the NCAA that allows schools with coaching vacancies to hover like vultures over coaches who currently have jobs and seasons that are still playing out. Because of this, if Kelly denies a rumor if only to protect his players, he's a liar and a traitor. Or, if BK gives an honest answer if only to protect his players, he's a liar and a traitor. It's a lose-lose situation for a coach like Kelly, but before you so quickly judge him, ask yourself something: What would YOU, the angry, betrayed fan, do if you were in his shoes? What would YOU do if you had the opportunity to upgrade your life for your family, all while trying to protect the players that helped you get to your current superstar status?

Kelly's message to UC was always clear: he and his staff would need sufficient monetary support to stick around. His team would need to practice on a field other than the one they played games on. The 107-year-old, 35,000 seat stadium, which he called the "Wrigley Field" of college football, would need to be upgraded and expanded.

To its credit, UC listened. In tough economic times, the administration supported Kelly and his staff as best as it could. Money was raised for the practice fields, which are currently under construction. Possible scenarios to expand and upgrade Nippert Stadium are being considered.

But it's too late. Unfortunately, the University of Cincinnati played a waiting game, and got burned.

Simply put, UC wanted to have its cake and eat it too.

UC wanted a coach who'd be the school's rock for years and years to come, but didn't provide enough foundation for him to build upon. Mark Dantonio arrived at UC in December 2003. Nearly three years later, he recognized the program's shortcomings, accomplished his mission of using UC as a stepping stone in his coaching career and was off to Michigan State, which drew 25,000 fans ... to his first spring game.

A week after Dantonio was named MSU's coach, Kelly arrived at UC. And three years later, he's gone too.

The bottom line is, if UC truly wanted a coach to commit to the Bearcats on a long-term basis, UC should have committed to upgrading its program a long time ago. How about after Rick Minter, who coincidentally came to UC from Notre Dame, ended his 10-year, 53-63-1 tenure with the Bearcats in 2003?

UC's facilities have certainly improved in recent years with the completion of its Varsity Village, but one has to wonder, at what point was UC going to sweeten the pot for the long-term stability of the football program? At what point were they going to make the program a destination job, not just a stepping stone, for a football coach?

Kelly certainly used the Cincinnati football program as a stepping stone in his coaching career. But he did much more than that. He showed anyone who has ever supported this program that the school with no practice fields, the school with the 107-year-old stadium that is the smallest in the Big East conference, is a school that can compete for national championships.

Kelly may be gone, but the momentum he built is not. At least not yet. There is a small window of opportunity for the University of Cincinnati to capitalize on what Brian Kelly built in such a short amount of time.

Kelly's departure leaves two questions: Who will be the next Bearcats' coach? And will UC allow time to run out on him, too?

Gerowitz is a New York-based television producer, a Cincinnati graduate and occasional OGS contributor.


Kelly's Early Years Reminiscent Of Huggins'

This week, three old buds I wrote sports with at The University of Cincinnati's The News Record many years ago are contributing guest posts to One Great Season. Today's update is from Lee Gerowitz, who now lives in New York and is a senior producer for Howard TV On Demand, which is Howard Stern's totally uncensored on-demand channel.

Lee Gerowitz

Special to One Great Season

CINCINNATI -- There were two significant arrivals on the University of Cincinnati campus in 1989.

First and foremost was the arrival of yours truly. I would spend five glorious years at UC before graduating in 1994.

Overshadowing my grand entrance onto the Clifton campus was the arrival of some up-and-coming basketball coach named Bob Huggins. Huggins wouldn't leave UC until August 2005. And as we all know, he didn't exactly graduate from UC -- but let's not beat a dead horse, right? (My apologies to Art Long, whose name you should Google along with "horse" in case you don't know).

Bob Huggins put Cincinnati Bearcats basketball -- heck, even the entire university -- back on the map. Some would argue, based on the program's downfall that followed his departure, that he also wiped them off of it.

Twenty years after his arrival, the Bearcats have re-emerged, but this time via the gridiron, courtesy of football coach Brian Kelly.

It's unlikely, but not entirely impossible, that Kelly will spend 15 years coaching his version of the Bearcats. Yet, when you look at the beginning of both Huggins' and Kelly's tenures at UC, there are clear parallels.

Before UC, both men had great success at smaller schools. Huggins compiled a 71-26 record (including a 30-0 regular-season mark in 1982-83) at Walsh University before heading to Akron, a Mid-American Conference school. Kelly won two national championships at Grand Valley State University in 2002 and 2003 before heading to Central Michigan, also a MAC school.

In five seasons at Akron, Huggins compiled a 97-46 record, reaching the post-season three times, including a 1985-86 trip to the NCAA tournament. His first squad, the 1984-85 team, went 12-14. The following season the team went 22-8.

In 2004, Kelly's first CMU team went 4-7. The next season, the Chippewas went 6-5, the program's first winning season in seven years. In 2006, his final season at CMU, he went 9-4, won the MAC title and played in the Motor City Bowl.

Then came their arrivals in Clifton. Both men were brash and outspoken. Huggins challenged, well, everybody, while Kelly targeted the local media for their lack of coverage of his program.

Huggins took over a once-proud basketball program that hadn't reached the NCAA tournament since 1977. A once-proud program boasting legends such as Oscar Robertson and national championships in 1961 and 1962.  Huggins had inherited a program that had lost its identity, thanks to the pathetic 70-100 record accumulated during the Tony Yates era. To say the Bearcats established a new identity under Huggins is an understatement. Bottom line: during the 1991-92 season, just his third at UC, Huggins would begin a string of 14 consecutive NCAA appearances by storming into the Final Four.

Mark Dantonio, who left to coach Michigan State University in 2006, was Mother Theresa compared to Yates, leaving the UC football program in much better shape for Kelly than Yates did for Huggins. Despite this, Dantonio was a straight-laced, defensive-minded coach who preferred smash-mouth football. In short, some would label his style of play as boring.

Kelly, upon arrival, ripped that scheme to shreds and installed a fast-paced, and more important, fan-friendly spread offense. In his first full season with the Bearcats, Kelly won 10 games, a feat the program hadn't accomplished since 1949. The following season, Kelly won 11 games and his second consecutive Big East Coach of the Year Award by reaching what some believe is college football's equivalent to the Final Four - a BCS bowl berth (in the Orange Bowl).

Which brings us back to Bob Huggins and that magical third season.

This is also Brian Kelly's third season. Entering this weekend's Homecoming game versus rival Louisville, the Bearcats are sitting pretty (despite Tony Pike's injury) with a 6-0 record and No. 5 ranking. Another Big East title and BCS bowl berth appear to be within reach. So does an undefeated season.

And dare we say, a potential slot in a national championship game?

One thing's for sure -- just like Huggins and his 1991-92 Final Four squad -- a campus, as well as a nation, is staying tuned.