Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Head Cases Put Teams Far Behind

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Head Cases Put Teams Far Behind

Article excerpt

Byline: Michael DiRocco

This column is about Southeastern Conference issues and trends, but for just a moment, we need to head to the NBA.

Ron Artest, the head case of all head cases -- with the possible exception of Dennis Rodman -- recently was traded from the Indiana Pacers to the Sacramento Kings. We all know Artest's history and have seen his incredible talent, and that spurred an interesting debate:

Which would you rather have, a head case who scores 25 points per game or a solid player who averages 10 to 12 and is a great locker-room presence and team leader?

SEC men's basketball coaches didn't have any trouble making that decision. They wanted the 10 points per game and leadership.

"Those kind of guys are guys that I feel like you can win with, that are great for the chemistry on your basketball team, guys that have an understanding of what's important," Arkansas coach Stan Heath said. "I always ask this question to the guys on my team: 'Are you playing to play or are you playing to win?'

"I think sometimes when you get the guy that is maybe -- in your terms -- is a little bit of a head case but is putting up a lot of numbers, that's the questions you ask him, 'OK, is it about numbers or is it about winning?' That's where that guy that has those intangible things with 10 points per game is going to help you in the long run."

It wasn't a surprise that Kentucky's Tubby Smith felt the same way.

"You want the guy that's a leader," Smith said. "It depends on what you call a head case. Your idea of a head case might not be the same as some other people's. Obviously, you're looking for the guy that is going to be a team player, that is going to be a leader on and off the court. …

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