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Archive for Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Tech’s Knight picking walk-on during ESPN reality show

February 15, 2006

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— Bob Knight's reality show will be rated PG.

The Texas Tech coach puts 16 walk-ons through the paces in a new reality show that begins Sunday on ESPN. "Knight School" will give one Tech student the chance to play on his basketball team next fall.

Over six episodes, the players experience drills, scrimmages and the occasional wrath of the hot-tempered coach with 866 wins, third-most in men's Division I history.

"Some words ultimately will be bleeped," executive producer Rob Lundgren said Tuesday. "There aren't that many."

Knight has the final say on whether the winner makes the Red Raiders' roster after spring and fall workouts. Texas Tech (12-12 overall, 4-6 Big 12 Conference) could use the help this season.

"We'll have to wait and see just exactly how he fits into what we're doing," Knight said during a conference call. "How well, now that he's playing with a lot of college players, does he match up?"

Filmed over two weeks in late September, the first episode shows a nervous group of 33 hopefuls whittled down to 16. Knight's first rules, given during an initial pep talk at center court, are no hats or earrings.

"When coach walked through those doors, it's just dead silence," Cole Whisenhunt said in the debut episode. "You know he's the man."

Standing courtside, Knight nags the rookies about sloppy play.

"How the hell are we going to win a 40-minute game if you can only play 10?" he yells.

Knight's friend, Dan Stone, approached him about the series. Stone, an investment consultant from Long Island, and Lundgren spoke with ESPN during the course of several months.

"The only negative was time," Knight said. "I had to consider workouts and recruiting. I thought it was really a positive thing for both the university and the community of Lubbock. Those may have been the two most important things from my standpoint."

Knight said he hadn't had any negative feedback from coaches concerned about a recruiting advantage because of the television exposure.

"I haven't heard a word from other coaches except that they were intrigued on how we were going to do it," Knight said.

The walk-ons and Knight practiced mostly in the evenings, working around the Red Raiders practice schedule and full-time classes. The producers added an ROTC challenge course in the second episode.

"I think (the audience) will really appreciate, enjoy and learn from the effort these kids put forth," Knight said. "What I set up was basketball, period. There were a lot of other things that were put into it as tests and challenges, a lot of physical exertion things that Rob and his staff set up for these kids to go through."

Six cameras captured the action on campus and off, with players eliminated after each episode. Knight wasn't fazed by the spotlight.

"If you're worried about cameras, you shouldn't coach," he said. "Because today, anytime that we play a game, it's on television with cameras everywhere. I've probably had as many people, coaches and faculty members attend practice over the years as anybody that's ever coached. The only thing that I've ever tailored my coaching to is what's happening immediately."

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