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The Most Important Thing Brad Underwood Can Do This Week



I’ve been thinking a lot about the fallout from Desmond Mason’s comments from a few days ago. Mason essentially said former alums have been shut out from the program.

“You might offer to retire some guys’ jerseys and they might deny you,” said Mason. “Coach Sutton always had everybody coming in … all of a sudden that thing ceases. And then you have no relationship. And when you have a relationship it’s kind of dry and cold.”

Bombshells. Shrapnel all over the place. And part of it came off poorly because apparently Mason was interested in becoming the next head coach. But part of it seems to be a real thing that has transpired since Eddie Sutton stepped down.

I don’t know if that’s a Mike Holder thing or was a Travis Ford thing. But I do know that Brad Underwood can do a lot of wound-healing in the next year.

Underwood, for all intents and purposes, is the head of the athletic dept. when it comes to hoops. Mike Holder is technically his boss, yes, but Underwood makes the dough and calls the shots. And a couple of calls would go a long way right now.

“We’re all in this together,” said Underwood on Wednesday. “It takes everybody, it’s not just a coach and a group of players. It takes everybody to do that. I’m a relationship guy. The more people I get to meet the better.”

He should get on the phone and “meet” Desmond and the Grahams and Big Country and Scott Pierce and Mo Baker and John Lucas. He should call Le’Bryan in Japan and Markel in New York. He should reach out to Janavor Weatherspoon and Fred Jonzen. Because, like it or not, folks respond to what those dudes think.

So whether Desmond is right or not, what he says matters. And Underwood seems like he knows this.

“Every elite program, your former players, former managers, former coaches, they have have a unique club or bond,” said Underwood. “Their interaction in the program, because the guys that sat out there today that are going to play next year, they’re going to be a former player someday.

“And you have to have that connection and that interaction. There’s nothing better than seeing a former player talk about, ‘Well, I played in the championship game in Kemper Arena back in 1985 and this is what …’ People need to hear that and experience that. It’s a big part of the program. It’s a big part of what I’m going to try to do every year and making sure we recognize those players when they come back.”

Perfect. Like Holder said on Wednesday (and this was buried in the many things he said), we think we got a guy who gets it. I’m not sure Travis Ford ever did. I’m hopeful Brad Underwood will.

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