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Teams teeter on two big decisions

On Sports

Two basketball programs have decisions to make. Some people might not agree, but I believe there are a lot of similarities. And in both cases, there is an opportunity for strong leadership to make a bold move.

Is there strong leadership, though?

At Oregon, new Athletic Director Pat Kilkenny is said to not be in love with basketball coach Ernie Kent. That sounds a little strange, with the Ducks headed off this week to play in the round of 16 in the NCAA Tournament.

On the other hand, if you look at the total program under Kent, I can understand why someone might think the Ducks could do better.

I'm not in love with the way Oregon chooses to play.

The Ducks would be more sound if they recruited better big men, got the ball inside more and didn't rely so much on 3-point shots. But, of course, this is the crapshoot college game, where the too-close 3-point line has made the sport more about streaky shooting than inside power.

I wouldn't favor a change in coaches for the sake of change.

Kent is a good recruiter who seems to be able to put together solid teams every three or four years. Maybe that's all that should be expected - although the Ducks should have been embarrassed that neither of this state's blue-chip recruits this season so much as paused to think about attending college in Eugene.

Many here believe Mark Few at Gonzaga would be a better coach than Kent. I don't know Few well enough to say that, but if you're the AD and you think Few would be better, it's your duty to get him. Period.

I don't care if Kent wins the national championship - your job is to put the best coaching staff in place that you can. And it's your job to know which man is the better coach.

I see a similar situation with the Trail Blazers' search for a general manager. Everyone, it seems, both inside and outside the organization, is rooting for Kevin Pritchard.

He's a good guy and has done a solid job. It would be the popular, easy choice to just slide him up the ladder.

But doing so without checking to see if Geoff Petrie or Jerry West is interested would be stupid. Petrie is a no-brainer if you could get him.

Maybe Kiki Vandeweghe or Rick Adelman would be, too - and are at the very least worthy of interviews and consideration.

Pritchard, who hasn't been at the business all that long, could get a few more years in his player personnel position, learning from a great one, before moving up.

If he wants to go someplace else, wish him luck. But to select him over the proven track record of the Original Blazer, Petrie, just because he's here, would be a big mistake.

Hiring one of these men from outside would require vision and the ability to withstand criticism from all directions.

That's what great leadership is about - making the right moves and selling them to the doubters. Leaders know that long-term results beat short-term satisfaction every time.

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