The Drive Tuesday 3-20-1: Steve Kerr joins The Drive, breaking down the hometown favorites still in the NCAA Tourney, discusses which school he thinks will win, and also offers the Charlotte Bobcats some advice on who to kick to the curb and who to draft.
With several new injuries marring the Carolina Tar Heels roster, there are doubts as to whether or not the early favorite can bring another National Championship to the Carolinas. Kerr thinks the injuries will definitely make for a bumpy road the next few games, but thinks Carolina can bounce back.
“Carolina’s strength is playing with pace and really attacking you and putting you on your heels, no pun intended…It is just, all of a sudden, if they become a half court team, they are good just not who they are…when everyone you are playing against is peaking…it is tough to reinvent yourself, and I am not sure that is going to happen.”
NC State has taken the NCAA Tourney by storm, already making a much bigger splash than anyone predicted. Kerr says he was surprised by the Wolfpack’s record after he saw them play in the tournament, saying their record does little to reflect how strong and talented the team is. He attributed the slow start to the season to the arrival of Coach Gottfried, saying it often takes players awhile to adjust to new methods of playing, and unfortunately and fortunately, the team is just now hitting its stride.
“I was just blown away by the talent on that front line…it is a really well balanced, athletic team..and I was trying to figure out how they lost twelve games! …it is going to take a little while to implement your system, they are peaking at the right time and gaining a ton of confidence.“
Duke’s early exit from the tournament was a rare occurrence, but Kerr believes that is shows that the differences between the one and sixteen seeded teams is not as huge as it has been in years past.
“I think more than anything it shows you how the talent is dispersed pretty evenly. It used to be a 2 vs. 15 seed looked like David versus Goliath…this was different…Lehigh had some talent…I think it was a bad match up because Duke is guard oriented and Lehigh had the best guard on the court…one and done, it hardly ever happens to Duke, but sooner or later, it was going to happen.”
Kerr is reluctant to offer a name of which team will take the national title, but said at this moment, Kentucky was high on his list.
“I think there are several teams that have a legitimate shot…Kentucky is the favorite…I could very easily see them losing to Kansas, Michigan State or even Syracuse…there is a group of five or six teams that are better than everyone else, including a healthy UNC. I have watched this tournament long enough to know you don’t ever call anyone the favorite…last year Ohio State and Kansas were such big favorites to make it to the Final Four and neither even made it…”
Kerr was actually present for one of the biggest upsets in the NCAA Tourney to date, Norfolk State’s overthrowing of Missouri. He said he knew Norfolk State was talented, but definitely did not see the outcome of the game coming. He also said upsets like that are bittersweet because of the thrill and supreme disappointment.
“I was struck by [Norfolk State's] athleticism and how well coached they were…I thought they would play hard and eventually get worn down…Missouri allowed them to get in to a comfort zone…Missouri didn’t take them seriously enough…it was a huge thrill, those upsets are historic and full of excitement…I was thrilled for Norfolk State but at the same time, crushed for those Missouri guys…it is incredibly painful to see those tears in guys eyes.“