(CBS Minnesota/CBS Local) The NCAA Tournament officially gets underway tomorrow night when the “First Four” tips off in Dayton, Ohio. At that point, all 68 teams will be hoping to make the unforgettable run to the Final Four in Minneapolis this year.
One man that knows a thing or two about reaching the Final Four is former Duke forward and current CBS college basketball analyst Grant Hill. Hill’s Blue Devils teams reached the final weekend in three out of his four years at the school cutting down the nets twice in the process. Now, he broadcasts the Final Four for CBS alongside Bill Raftery and Jim Nantz. With plenty of experience leading teams to that final stage, we decided to ask Hill what one key is for making that deep tournament run when we caught up with him at CBS and Turner Sports’ NCAA Tournament Media Day last week.
“It requires a focus. Obviously focusing in on the task at hand and the team that is in front of you, but also not getting caught up in all of the noise and all the chatter,” said Hill. “There is so much out there. There are so many games, so much excitement, you want to try and maintain a sense of normalcy. I think that was easier to do back in the 90’s because there was no social media, no technology like we have today, all you had was the newspaper. You could really lock in and focus. You were somewhat insulated from all that was happening around you. That is harder to do in this day and age. That is a challenge.”
The distractions can certainly get in the way of a tournament run, but they haven’t done much to slow down Hill’s former coach, Mike Krzyzewski who is still thriving in college basketball at the age of 72. This year’s Blue Devils enter the tournament as the top overall seed and the heavy favorites to win the whole kit and caboodle. For Hill, the fact that Coach K continues to be able to put together strong teams year in and year out just shows how adaptable his teaching style is.
“It is fantastic to see him still out there doing what he loves,” said Hill. “He has so much passion for coaching, teaching and leading. And he is still extremely effective. He continues to resonate with young men, it’s remarkable. He really does embody being able to adjust and adapt over the years because different players from different generations respond differently. He has been able to figure out how to connect, resonate, motivate and inspire. It is very gratifying and just makes you feel good that these young men have the opportunity, like I did, to learn from the very best.”