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Why Sim Bhullar is Perfect for X

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This has nothing to do with basketball.
Anyone who has either (a) seen the film Miracle, (b) watched any meaningful sporting event brought to you by ABC/ESPN, or (c) watched any Winter Olympics coverage since 1980 while living outside of Russia and the former Soviet republics knows the story of the 1980 US hockey team. The parallels between that team (or at least the Disney-fied version that came out on film) and mid-major basketball schools could be drawn pretty easily; we may even do that here depending on how long/boring the summer turns out to be. My focus right now is a little more narrow.

In the early stages of the movie (again, I was negative five years old in 1980, so my reality is based on grainy footage and a Disney script), Herb Brooks is agonizing over which players are going to be invited to have the opportunity to play for the US team. An assistant - who probably exists only as a plot device - points out to Brooks that he hasn't selected the best American players. Brooks responds, "I'm not looking for the best players; I'm looking for the right ones."


Fast-forward 30+ years (makes you feel old, doesn't it, Dad?), and Coach Mack has just signed seven-foot-four, three-hundred-something pound Sim Bhullar to join the Musketeers at some point in the future. Almost on cue, Musketeers fans began fretting about the young man's ability to hedge over screens on defense, play a running game on offense, sustain a meaningful pace for more than 20 minutes, and generally adapt to the college game. Bhullar is rated as a three-star recruit by most sources; weren't there any four-star guys left on the radar?

The problem with the "accumulate as many stars as possible" approach is two-fold. First is the obvious observation that recruiting ratings are fraught with uncertainty. Some big-time recruits never pan out. By the same token, some poorly-rated players blossom in college. It's difficult to predict how a 16-year-old player is going to perform at the age of 21. The other problem is that throwing the most talented five players you could accumulate onto the floor isn't always the best approach to winning. That's why legendary recruiter John Calipari only made his first Final Four appearance this most recent season.

It might be about Sim; I've not read it.
More to the point, Coach Mack and his staff probably looked at the roster and saw Davis, Martin, and Wells stepping in for Holloway, Lyons, and Redford, and Reynolds, McKenzie, and Farr filling the holes left by McLean, Taylor, and Robinson. This left the Muskies with some great perimeter players and some very athletic bigs, but nobody to step into the space-eating shoes that Kenny Frease will vacate. While this might not be an issue all the time or even most of the time, teams always run into at least a couple of knock-down, drag-out games that call for a big body to create real estate in the middle. That's why Xavier pursued and ultimately signed Bhullar. Sure, there might be more talented players left on the board, but Coach Mack's not looking for the best players. He's looking for the right ones.