Archive for Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Giddens a mistake waiting to happen

February 21, 2007


A pact with a prima donna should have some guidelines or at least come with a warning label.

But maybe all that's necessary is this forecast: You'll get what you deserve.

That's the way it is for Lobos men's basketball coach Ritchie McKay, who more or less tossed the dice in recruiting the Division I baggage named J.R. Giddens, the former problem child of the Kansas Jayhawks.

So far, the dice have come up snake eyes, and McKay is getting what he deserves, what he should have expected - lots of problems, lots of headlines.

It was naive to expect that McKay, not exactly a people person, would know how to handle this temperamental almost-star, who came to the University of New Mexico obviously basking in the hype of his potential and the hype of his newfound coach.

It was a mistake waiting to happen, an ill-conceived union destined to create minor dissensions within McKay's "family" of Lobos.

McKay's road map through college basketball is dotted with players who preferred to hit the road rather than deal with McKay's ego and his unique brand of coach control.

McKay has issues dealing with the regular Joes and egos of the hardwood. He was out of his league in dealing with Giddens, who has been suspended until at least next Monday when he'll meet with the beleaguered coach.

McKay said Monday that Giddens did nothing illegal or unethical, and the suspension was more about being a good teammate. Some Lobos players said they expected him back soon.

The reason McKay brought Giddens to UNM in the first place is obvious: McKay was looking for another disgruntled transfer to save his job.

It's ironic that McKay found salvation - a three-year extension - in the recruitment of Danny Granger from Bradley, but might have lost a job in bringing in Giddens.

What's difficult to fathom at this point is why McKay finally did to Giddens what he should have done long ago - kicked Giddens off the team, removed Mr. Prima Donna from the family that seems to be happier and seems to play better without him.

The guess here is McKay simply is looking for another red herring - another prop - to wave in front of Lobos fans.

McKay is good at such sleight of hand - an old letterman's jacket, his Christian faith, his "family" of Lobos.

And now maybe we will overlook his struggling program because he has made this brave stance, has declared that character is more important than winning and contending for league titles.

It won't wash.

Giddens' prima donna attitude should have been squashed long ago. He should have been benched long ago. The suspension of Giddens comes across as a calculated move by McKay to gain some sort of favor in his fight to keep his job.

In McKay's mind, he probably is a great and misunderstood coach, fighting the brave fight without his best player against the evil powers of the Mountain West. McKay probably sees the benching of Giddens as a reflection of integrity and strength that should be admired by one and all - especially Paul Krebs, UNM's director of athletics.


But a lot of Lobos fans would probably be happy just to see this Lobos soap opera go away.

They probably would prefer to see a solid program, headed by a strong leader, producing winning basketball.


quigley 11 years, 3 months ago

Good article. I can't say I didn't get a little joy from hearing about Giddens screwing up again.

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